Disclaimer: the descriptions should not be taken as didactic representations of the meaning of the works. I believe the work should speak for itself. The text is only intended as an introduction to give you a sense of some of the core ideas behind each project, and how I think about them.
Architecture of Misconceptions
Abstract photography series where the language of material transformation is used as an allegory for psychological landscapes and philosophical concepts, immortalized through the camera lens with the purpose of testing perception, and the limits of understanding by way of exploring the intersection between sculpture, painting and photography. The forms and textures are like actors in deranged films, and I am the director subverting their impulses, arranging the compositions and pushing them beyond their usual capabilities through juxtapositions, lighting and a constant dance between creation and destruction.
These images occupy a space of constant friction partly based on Alice in Wonderland syndrome, a psychological disorder in which the subjects lose sense of proportions and thus find themselves in a distorted reality. I'm consciously avoiding aesthetic signifiers to intensify the friction of not being able to categorize and quantify the works; in a sense they can be seen as visual riddles, mirroring the complexity of the zeitgeist.
The premise of my work is that "perception is reality" as Einstein said; like our fingerprints we all have different perceptions which paves the way for a cornucopia of confusion, and yet we're all stuck in the same increasingly fragmented reality. What unifies us is physical reality of a brain within a flesh vehicle mounted on a skeleton walking around on a giant ball of earth, wind and fire suspended in an endless universe. The complexity of the world is incomprehensible, the more we learn, the more conscious we become of how little we know. In these works I apply my understanding to go beyond it.
One of the major themes of our increasingly post-industrial society is alienation. As technology progresses exponentially we paradoxically become increasingly estranged from each other, ourselves and nature.
This project evolved organically when I moved from my 3-floor apartment - afforded to me by playing poker professionally - back to my parent's house to keep expenses at a minimum while starting my first company. I had been living in the city for 3 years, the human ant colony, a life of excess. When I moved back without my former cash flow to keep me entertained, I rediscovered the beauty of nature. I was forced to make my way without the comforts of a solid bankroll, and nature became my revelation. I went into the woods and felt an instant connection.
Back when the project emerged from the eureka moment experienced in the woods of my native Denmark, I wasn't thinking about global warming or the larger philosophical implications. I simply felt my existential despair evaporate as I reconnected with the natural landscapes, riding around in the woods with my camera, capturing my mental transition. I like to imagine this was the same sense of connection and wonder that lead Henry David Thoreau to write Walden and later prompted Christopher McCandless to go "Into the Wild". Unlike McCandless however, my project is not a manifestation of blind idealism but rather an attempt to reconcile my own sense of alienation with nature and hopefully transcend it through visual analogy.
The project consists of photographs and sculptures.
The Rise of the Sensationalist Paradigm
(The Atrocity Exhibition)
Sensationalism gives way to xenophobia and plays to the lowest common denominator; in recent years, as we experience an increasingly fragmented reality, news outlets progressively dumb down their content in what seems to be a race to the bottom. Even the commercial art media have succumbed to this unfortunate trend, obscuring the contemporary landscape with seemingly "political correct" discourse, trend surfing and recycling of press releases.
Everyone seems to be peddling some ideological stew tainted by economical interests while substance, clarity and passion are being drowned in a sea of white noise. This project aims to challenge the zeitgeist of intermediation by taking flashy headlines from prominent art world media outlets and compose them into "ready-made" poetry that highlights the absurdity of the status quo. Simply put, this project sets out to challenge the rise of sensationalism in the art world and raise questions about it's consequences on how we perceive art.
Few people get to experience the confused exuberance of sweating over a canvas while flinging paint like a jazz musician blowing his saxophone in a state of ecstasy.
When looking at the art historical trajectory one might infer we have moved past painting. Accordingly, neophile critics have declared painting dead time and time again, and yet it lives on and keeps evolving. One of the main reasons is the simple physical act of manipulating pigment, the sheer satisfaction of having the body work in concert with the mind (both conscious and subconscious) to create something that transcends the sum of its parts.
As technology progresses exponentially, the physical act becomes increasingly important when it comes to retaining our humanity while we merge with machines.
The simple idea of this series is to convey the confused exuberance in question by photographing an aspect of painting only privy to the ones who practice it relentlessly, the sensation of wet paint, the way underlying laws of physics reveal themselves to the painter in the moment. I photograph small details, enhance and enlarge them to capture the otherwise ephemeral sensations of painting.
The nucleus in my practice is painting, I paint almost every day and almost exclusively in black and white. Black and white is the skeleton in both painting and photography, it forces us to focus on the substance of the work, the balance between form, light and darkness. My approach is rather eclectic in the sense I don't subscribe to any particular movement or style. I see art history as a buffet, and use the various ideas and concepts as ingredients to compose something idiosyncratic. I do a lot of experimentation.
Mostly I work with acrylics, ink, household paint and oil sticks and sometimes incorporate "mixed media". I build the paintings like sculptures with multiple layers, using various "techniques" of adding and detracting pigments to the surfaces (canvas, wood panels, metal plates). Everything from brushes to knifes and golf clubs are being utilized to achieve satisfaction. I've even invented a few special tools that I use from time to time.
Sometimes I also mix ink and paints with liquid consumer products such as Coca-Cola to create chemical reactions within the compositions. In doing so, I'm trying to reflect a generation brought up on high blood sugar, and the instant gratification that permeates the society we live in.
My understanding and use of aesthetics is contrary to popular belief not simply about the surface, as the dichotomy of black and white suggests. Rather, I believe there's an inside for every outside. I believe the strokes are reflections of my subconscious, which reflects the world I'm moving in and the information I consume. In that sense the work becomes autobiographical, while also reflecting the times.
I'm working with a personal contemporary translation of Japanese aesthetics (wabi-sabi) that I believe to be a timely antidote to the existential void of consumerism and pop culture. The aesthetics reflect my philosophy.
In this series of digital collages I mesh my own abstract photography with works by famous "appropriation artists" ranging from Richard Prince to John Chamberlain.
In contemporary art there's an endless stream of confusion surrounding appropriation. I've made this project in response to the confusion to hopefully contribute to the conversation around appropriation. Essentially all of culture builds upon itself; as Carl Sagan put it, "If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe". It's quite simple when you boil it down.
As I see it, there's a spectrum and ways of using appropriation in constructive ways, like Jason Rhoades installations where he combined and re-contextualized existing elements in new ways to create new meaning, or John Chamberlain's transfiguration of muscle cars into equally powerful sculptures. In the other end of the spectrum we have Richard Prince's blatant thievery. In this series I've tried to deal with this spectrum in a constructive way by taking well-known works from these artists and applied my own reconfiguration.
To learn more about this series, read my recent interview with Creators Project here.
There's an old Chinese curse that goes "I hope you live in interesting times". Well, here we are. Technology is a bowling ball striking the pins of reality, shattering our sense of metaphysics into multiple fragments: Digital reality, virtual reality, "Reality" TV, physical reality and so forth.
We move toward hyper-individualism in a hyper-reality; A total redefinition of what it means to be human. It's impossible to know where this progression will take us, only one thing is certain; we need to be conscious of the fundamental shift and how it affects our existence.
In this series I use visual analogy to highlight the merciless force of this redefinition of reality. I use various images from my personal archives of paintings in development (I often photograph my way through paintings to isolate details and get a better understanding of the composition), as well as photographs of temporary sculptures as seen in my "Architecture of Misconceptions" series, and ultimately merge them together digitally to create the finished works, juxtaposed next to each other for conceptual effect.
Frantic Lifestyle (working title)
These works are manifestations of my multidisciplinary practice, they consist of digital works, remixes made from my own abstract photography which I then print on canvas and paint on. It's a technique I spent 5 years developing and to my knowledge this is something that has never been done before. I know Albert Oehlen made digital works, printed them and painted on them, and that Gerhard Richter has printed photographs and painted on them. This, however, is something else altogether. I see it as the next step in this evolution of image-making where different mediums merge.
My approach is evolutionary, I try to facilitate a cross-pollination between my practices and force a sort of artificial osmosis between my digital work (I have a vast personal archive that I elaborate every day) and my physical work as well as my conscious and subconscious brain. In doing so I'm able to go beyond my own understanding and create something new and fresh, which I believe has a great value in a time where popular belief is that "everything has been done and redone".
There's plenty of uncharted territory, and evolution is the key.
Deranged Zen Sculptures
In this photographic series, I capture temporary "deranged Zen sculptures" in an exploration of the collective subversion of spiritual values. Today, we're more connected than ever before, but ironically more lonely than ever before as well. Partly because we've thrown the baby out with the bathwater in the eradication of religious ideology. As we're making the transition from religious societies to secular ones, a lot of dogma surrounding anything with spiritual connotations has arisen.
Traditionally, Zen sculptures are very simple, which is why they made the perfect analogy by way of adding juxtaposing materials and complexity. This is done to reflect the compounding of dogma we experience as scientists try to combat the unfortunate aspects of religion in the public discourse, while institutions, tradition and the population tries to keep up.
Zen is about finding and appreciating simplicity, a value that doesn't go well with consumer culture where the citizens are bombarded with images to make them feel insecure, in order to create a need for something that often only adds even more noise to their reality. I've been meditating on and off for the past 10 years and know empirically that simplicity carries with it the feelings we often seek in excess - which I've also tried my hands at in my days as a professional poker player.
This series explores this paradox of contemporary society in the tradition of still lifes.