Whether we prefer modern or contemporary art, it is fair to say that we can’t compare these two terms signified their art era because they are charming in their own way. However, innovation and creative matter of different media are something share in contemporary art, more carefree on art-making to re-present the art of creativity either challenging the norms or social discourse, and more experiments of material involved, and those are some of the key values I expect in contemporary art galleries.

Scandinavian Pop Art

Art is a universe creative subject and there is no geographical condition affect its quality, however, there may be cultural and historical or even political influence can be seen while analyzing the mean of artworks in terms of artists’ way of life or philosophical belief.

Hariton Pushwanger’s solo Pop Art exhibition

Galleri Pushwagner | Tjuvholmen allé 10, 0252 Oslo

Documented on 8 Jan 2018

Hariton Pushwanger (1940 – 2018) was a famous Norwegian Pop artist, whose real name is Terje Brofos. Galleri Pushwagner displays his solo works only. His art characteristic is cartoon-like, which most of them contain various bright colors and it creates a big contrast to draw our attention: for example, Manhattan 2016. In this piece, the high population and crowded high skyscrapers are significant in the metropolitan city of Manhattan that Pushwanger wanted to highlight. Instead of usual neat and playing power kind of re-presentation of high skyscrapers, he made use of waves to add living power to the buildings, different bright colours and opposite to each other, and patterns to add weight to embrace the significant city elements in Manhattan.  

Manhattan 2016

Also, most of his works are heavy content in which objects and characters were created in motions: for example, At sea 2016, and it has given us space to think of its symbolic meaning and to continue imagining. A simple monochrome outlining main objects like the ship, sailor, waves and splashing water were outlined in black without filling other colour to present a scene of sailor breaking through the heavy waves. Details of heavy waves can be seen through the crowded heavy lines that constructed the level of sea tension. The upper part of background was filled in light blue to present blue sky and the collar or sailor was in the same colour, which creates harmony in the artwork and also draws the attention back in the central. 

At Sea 2016

Besides, similar art concept can be seen in series of Pushwanger works: for example, Plant News 2017 and Fake News 2017, also Left Court 2017 and Right Court 2017, those artworks are shown below. The left and right one share similar elements but minor adjustment were seen and use of relatively different colours for re-presenting another idea, which is interesting. Both series of work that Pushwanger uses patterns and opposite colours to create tension in the artwork. 

The art construction between Plant News 2017 and Fake News 2017 are identical beside the use of colour, which Plant News is a combination of various bright colours, and Fake News which black is a dominant colour beside the pink contrast and highly associating the dark side of fact as its title.  

Left piece : Plant News 2017 | Right piece: Fake News 2017

Left Court 2017 | Right Court 2017

 

Media mixture in Western Art

Astrup Fearnley Musset | Strandpromenaden 2, 0252 Oslo | $ Admission fee

Documented on 9 January 2018

Contemporary artists tend to experiment materials for art creation. Astrup Fearnley Musset was featuring contemporary paintings and installation artworks created by western-based famous artists including Damien Hirst, Anselm Kiefer, Matias Faldbakken, and more artists who were contributing on innovative art creation. Their works involving readymade or found object: for example, animal bodies, materials that can be found on construction work, medical use of objects, furniture can be found in institution building, everyday life objects such as newspaper, and etc., also, traditional art materials: for example, oil paints, canvas, acrylic paints, and etc. Is it worth mentioning that some of the famous pieces were displayed?

Installation art

Matias Faldbakken

A famous Norwegian living artist and writer, who embraces conceptual art creation through different media experiments using minimalistic readymade or found objects, and the use of words. His works involving installation, sculptures, paintings, and writing. 

A key highlight of his large scale solo installation artwork in Astrup Fearnley Musset: Effects of Good Government in the Pit. There was a short readymade video clip looping of a man in suit dancing confidently to start off the exhibition in a setting of institutional elevator, which is shown below. General public were easy to identify Trump from the video who just became the US president about that period of time, although no face were shown in the video, just the dancing movement, outfits and the body shape. The piece of readymade video was in fact a remix from Trump’s supporters using the melody of Never Come Down and an original clip from Saturday Night Live that Trump were dancing to Drake’s Hotline Bling, which went viral after. Faldbakken was inspired by this powerful piece of drastically breaking news that created many noises in political history, and to re-present it on the aesthetic perspective which as interpreted the attention Trump didn’t ask for. 

 

Never Come Down 2017

 

One of Faldbakken’s signature artwork components is a combination of readymade objects, to be more specific: sticking many sheets of the identical newsprint (which words or the image has a value to the representation of installation art exhibition) on individual industrial objects, as the installation art are shown below.

An iconic artwork of Faldbakken, a yellow and green stripe surfboard with 2 words “Greek” which one of them is upside down, and 9 identical newsprints with image of coins and a word note which layered on top of each other and the side edge were left to show, entitled The Greek (0 Days of Sodom) 2016 was displayed along other readymades: chairs, computer cabinet, boards, greenboard, objects refer to institutional furnitures that can be seen in school, and they share in common that a couple sheets of identical newsprint were layered up to create individual pattern on top of each readymade. 

 

Left column
Top: Partial of the Effects of Good Government
in the Pit, 2017 installation
Bottom: Screen Chair (Tenggren Green) 2017

Right column
Top: Untitled (Canvas #103) 2015
Middle: Rhombus Screen (Brut) 2016
Bottom: Stone Slab(The Artist’s foot) 2016

 

The last piece in of his installation was a readymade painting named Summer Evening from the Kristianiafjorden 1901 by a Romanist Norwegian painter Hans Gude, and the small painting with a same painting style, which is shown below. The paintings were framed like those we would see in a modern art museum. However, instead of displaying this two pieces of painted landscape horizontally as norm does, Faldbakken chose to represent it in a vertical way, which creates another perspective to appreciate this piece of painting. 

Left: Sommerkveld fra Kristianiafjorden (Summer Evening from the Kristianiafjorden) 1901 by Hans Gude | Right: Unknown title by Hans Gude

 

Damien Hirst 1965 to present

A British contemporary artist who is known Conceptual art installation, and his type of artworks involving Expressionism and Modernism.

His artworks focus on the exploration of Life and Death concept using found objects. Dead animals, butterflies, or skulls are some of objects can be seen often in his various installation art: for example, the famous installation work, Mother and Child Divided (Calf), and God Alone Knows, as images are shown below, the two forms of installation works are similar that dead animal were placed in the central of the big tank filled with green liquid, but the Mother and Child Divided (Calf) that each was divided equally almost like laser-cut technology was involved to reach the result, the two part of dead cow body and calf body were placed into separate tanks, and their organ system were shown clearly, and what God Alone Knows shows three similar size of goats in separate tanks in a similar posture with open chest but their head was placed in a different direction, unlike the Mother and Child Divided (Calf), their organ system were not there, and there were marble stones under their tank which engraved individual phrase in capital letters, from left to right, “Here is the night”, “It is a reflection of the hopeful terror of the day”, and “Be not afraid”. 

Upper row
Image on the left: the Mother and Child Divided (calf) on the front and middle, God Alone Knows 2007 at the back 
Image on the right: Side angle of Child Divided (calf) of the Mother and Child Divided (calf)

Bottom row
Image on the left: Front angle from the baby calf’s head of the Mother and Child Divided (calf)
Image on the right: A gallery visitor in front of the God Alone Knows 2007

 



Anselm Kiefer 1945 to present

A German painter, sculptor and installation artist, who has explored German post-war identity in majority of his art creation through engaging the myth and memory and re-presenting German culture and collective history, which the art world has given him reference on the movement of New Symbolism and Neo-Expressionism. Some of his famous installation artworks are shown below, they were made with heavy layers involving various media involving many found objects, and embracing an overwhelming dark grey tone, as they are considered as “heavy-load maximalism”. 

 

The High Priestess was made with two steel bookcases where they were positioned next to each other as a symbol of an open book. There were filled with over 200 mainly oversized books on the shelves that not only worn out with times but they were mis-treated purposely with acid, also, they were torn and bent with other materials like dried flowers and photographs, and burned. The symbolic meaning of book refers to knowledge and civilisation, and it leads to the weight of knowledge through the representation of the High Priestess, which Kiefer wanted to present the difficulty of transmitting human history or passing the knowledge over times without manpower, also a highlight of learning under Fascism. 

The High Priestess 1985-1989

Ladder to the Sky was made of several materials including broken pieces of ceramics and glass, cloth linen and snakeskin, lead, ash, emulsion and shellac. The idea of this installation artwork was inspired by Jacob’s dream in biblical story which “God spoke from a heavenly ladder while angels were ascending and descending.” As suggested, the ash-strewn tunics symbolised the typical ancient Jewish ritual. 

Ladder to the Sky 1990-1991

Barren Landscape was made with acrylic, emulsion, ash, hair, chalk and heating element on canvas. A messy rough finish re-presented one of the most polluted cities in the worlds and it symbolised the brutal and highlighting the ugliness of industrial society which associating with the concept of death, disintegration, and disaster.

Barren Landscape 1987-1989

Mixed Media

Malcolm Morley 1931 – 2018

A British-American artist and painter, and he was known for being photorealist and expressionist among vary other styles.

New York City Postcard as shown below, it was made with Acrylic and wax. Morley painted some touristic places in New York. 

New York City Postcard 1971

Gilbert & George 1943 & 1942 to present

Gilbert is Italian and George is British, they has been working together as collaborative contemporary artists since they met at college studying Fine Art. They were recognised for their distinctive and formal appearance in the art industry.

Their artworks are bright colours involved, graphic and photo-base and in majority of their artworks are the re-presentation the concept of sexuality and figuration of themselves via creative exploration or inspiration the subject matter, which highly associates with conceptual art and performance art: for example, Yell, and Flow, those are shown below. As we can see both artworks are in bright colours, and there are facies can be referencing to the artists themselves. Base on symbol construction in Yell, men’s genital part can be reference in the centre, and the facial expression of the mens combining the colour of bright red which signified passion, which leads to the expression of intimacy passion. 

Yell 1992

For Flow, the combination of the symbols lead to sexuality, where a man laid down in the middle of the path, the pair of bare legs can be seen only in a position of legs were bent where the knees were towards the sky, and on top of the knees, there are the two men on each side who can be reference of the artists and they got their knee down facing toward each other. The path was in bright red and leading towards the sun with the same colour. Since the bare legs were slightly opened, the symbolic meaning leads to intimacy.  

Flow Gilberto Prousch1988, C-print

Painting

Asger Jorn 1914 -1973

A Danish painter, sculptor, ceramic artist, and author, his artworks are considered as avant-garde, and some of his artworks were inspired by the political situations at that period of time. 

He was known for large and colour paintings, and especially on a later period his style was abstract shapes involving dots and shape can referring human character, which suggested reminding of Jaskson Polock’s significant drip-paintings. The painting style can be seen in the example of Days Have Gone below. 

 

Days Have Gone 1963

Olivier Debré 1920 -1999

A French painter, who was known for abstract large scale of colour field paintings and associating to Expressionism: for example, New Hampshire, and Jaune are shown below. Referred an interesting comment of the artist once said, ” When I painted on the ground, there is a physical adherence that is sensual, almost sexual. ” Painting to Debré was a form of expression as kind of emotional release and the joy and passion the artist found has formed a deep connection between the artist and the painting. 

Left: New Hampshire 1975 | Right: Jaune 1966

Peter Blake 1932 to present

A British Pop artist, who was entitled as a representative in the British Pop Art history which was overwhelming in the 1960s. His works were inspired by everyday life source like folk art, cartoon characters or even Hollywood stars, and to re-create and re-form another value to the work: for example, Tarzan, Jane, Boy and Cheeta, as the image is shown below. Base on source, the characters in the painting were referencing as a group of imaginary hero with a hotchpotch of artificiality in the background, moreover, there were lack of interaction between the characters that leads to conscious awkwardness, as an artificial mean being constructed subconsciously.

Tarzan, Jane, Boy and Cheeta 1966-1975

Miodrag Djuric 1933 – 2010

A Montenegrin-born (where Yugoslav was a country in Southeast Europe and Central Europe in most of the 20th century) artist, whose nickname Dado and he was a famous painter and also good at various creative job like engraving, engaging with book illustrating work, sculpture making and etc, and his artworks were highly associated with Surrealism: for example, British Graves, which is shown below.

British Graves 1971

R.B. Kitaj (Ronald Brooks Kitaj) 1932 – 2007

An American artist with Jewish root, who was famous for painting. His artworks were inspired by political history, art, literature and identity in which Jewish heritage matters, and associating with Figurative art, Abstraction art and Modernism. Also, he had a significant impact on British Pop Art development involving bright colours since he had long committed working in England before he left for good. Besides, he was recognised as one of the world’s draftsmen. Juan de la Cruz as one of his Pop artworks, which is shown below. It was addressing the Vietnam War for the background, featuring an American soldier, John Cross and the irrelevant historical figure in 16th century Spain whose Spanish name means Saint John of the Cross in English but the lower class identity were in common, to re-present idea of fighting their battles within “duty, conviction and reform”. 

Juan de la Cruz 1967

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