Fredrik Vaerslev uses carefully applied industrial spray paint and solvents on raw linen to recreate the look of used drop cloths. Born in Norway in 1979, Vaerslev, who graduated last year with an MFA from The Art Academy in Malmö, Sweden, is interested in the relationship between abstraction, representation, and ornamentation defined by Clement Greenberg. “Everything that usually serves representation and
illusion is left to serve nothing but itself, that is abstraction; while
everything that usually serves the abstract or decorative – flatness,
bare outlines, all-over or symmetrical design – is put to the service of
representation,” Greenberg wrote in the 1962 essay quoted on Vaerslev’s web page. “And the more explicit this contradiction is made, the
more effective in every sense the picture tends to be.”
Fredrik Vaerslev, Untitled, 2012.
A vigorous but playful empiricist, Vaerslev explores the limits of non-hierarchical
information, the monotony of the monochrome, the roles chance, deviation
and ornament play in adding visual interest to what are essentially
all-over compositions, or what he thinks of as “white noise.” After applying paint and solvents, he leaves the pieces outside where the weather ages them prematurely, giving them a pseudo history that evokes the poignant narratives of the authentic drop cloths that inspired them.
Fredrik Vaerslev at Standard (Oslo), Frieze New York, 2012.
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