Alejandra de Argos by Elena Cué

Interview with Henrik Olai Kaarstein

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Autor colaborador: Matteo Mottin
ATPdiary.com collaborator.

 

 

 

  

Interview with Henrik Olai Kaarstein in occasion of his exhibition ‘Mothers’ at T293 Gallery (Naples)

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HENRIK OLAI KAARSTEIN, ‘MOTHERS’, INSTALLATION AT T293 NAPLES,COURTESY T293, ROME-NAPLES FOTO: MAURIZIO ESPOSITO

 

 

ATP:  In “Turning and Returning”, your previous exhibition with T293, you were showing “material collages” made with sheets and towels “found” in hotel rooms and saunas and assembled so as to fill the typical aseptic and empty void of those places. Is there a connection between these works and the ones you show in “Mothers”?

 


Henrik Olai Kaarstein: I’m drawn to the intimate, private and sexual connotations to these materials. They are heavy with information, insinuation and emotion even before I manipulate them. Making a fabric ”dirty” with paint and colours. Putting my hand on them so they never can be clean or fresh again. I guess in ”Turning and Returning” the idea of collecting and gathering materials was more present than in my newer works. As I never really was that concerned with the personal narrative of these objects, or the gesture of putting these everyday objects into a gallery space, I moved away from it. It’s always been more about the physical qualities of the fabrics that I didn’t have control over and had to work with and work around.

 


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HENRIK OLAI KAARSTEIN, ‘MOTHERS’, INSTALLATION AT T293 NAPLES, COURTESY T293, ROME-NAPLES FOTO: MAURIZIO ESPOSITO

 


ATP:  There’s been a clear evolution in your works, from the ones presented in “Projectile Weapons”, through “Idea is the object” at D’Amelio Gallery, to “Mothers”. Can you tell us something about this path?


H.O.K.: The word path is a bit farfetched. Of course there’s been progression and development. It’s getting more important for me to look back at earlier works as a way of evolving, retrospective investigation. It’s nothing complacent with a bit of self-referentiality. It’s almost like admitting defeat and accepting that there are still issues that need to be examined.


ATP:  ”Mothers” is a title that evokes feelings at the same time personal and impersonal. Can you explain us the reason behind this choice?


H.O.K.: I like writing words down as a method of working and framing my work. It’s part of a notebook for sketching and ideas. Most of my ”ideas” are not visual illustrations, but come more in the form of sentences, quick assembling of words etc. I like cementing ambiguities on paper.  Looking at the title “Mothers” standing alone on a piece of paper was odd. It has a great duality to it like you mentioned. It is a warm word, but also feels like a cold title. It’s harmful and dangerous somehow. Like a pack of angry lionesses. In the specific situation of the exhibition, the intimacy of the materials it turns perverse and incestuous. The plural form of the word swiftly disarms all of these connotations with impersonality, like it implodes into nothing and is suddenly pointing everywhere.  Mothers represents acceptance and embracement and therefore also functions as a wink to what I describe as ”aggressive femininity” in the exhibited works and ”sisterhood” of the seriality. It is a crowded, yet democratic installation. No individual work is allowed to be more important than its siblings.


ATP:  The works in the exhibition are characterized by simple basic materials such as towels and mattress covers. On these everyday objects you paint enigmatic and ambiguous landscapes. Can you tell us about the link between these two parts, the base and the paintings?


H.O.K.: I’m not sure if there’s much to tell. The surfaces lie on my dirty floor so I can circle around it, occasionally diving in after a decision is made. I just add with what makes sense, puzzling together a solution and struggle to make all aspects connect. A lot of water is mixed with the paint. It’s a long process of water damage and drying, hiding mistakes and sometimes seeing mistakes as success. Repeat, add and rework as many times as I feel necessary.  There are a lot of limitations when you work on something mass-produced. I need limitations to focus and control the visual delegation. Continuously adding liquids to objects made to repel and suck up moisture that never will be clean and pure again was the starting idea. Performing as aesthetical objects instead of functioning. It’s a great combination of sad and sexy.


ATP:  From the text that goes with the exhibition: “powerful resources and will are used to lay bare and point out the existence of repressed information”. What kind of repressed information do your works hide?


H.O.K.: “Prejudiced longings”, are the two last words of that press text. I just want to point out where. I’ve never been a who-what-why-man.



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HENRIK OLAI KAARSTEIN, ‘MOTHERS’, INSTALLATION AT T293 NAPLES, COURTESY T293, ROME-NAPLES FOTO: MAURIZIO ESPOSITO

 

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HENRIK OLAI KAARSTEIN, AND YOU DESERVE ALL 5, 2013, ACRYLIC PAINT, IRIDESCENT MEDIUM, ACRYLIC GLUE AND SILICONE ON MATTRESS PAD : PITTURA ACRILICA, MATERIALE IRIDESCENTE, COLLA ACRILICA E SILICONE SU COPRIMATERASSO, 75 X 200 CM, COURTESY T293, ROME-NAPLES FOTO: MAURIZIO ESPOSITO

 

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HENRIK OLAI KAARSTEIN, AND YOU OWN ALL 4, 2013, ACRYLIC PAINT, VINYL PAINT, ACRYLIC GLUE, IRIDESCENT MEDIUM ON MATTRESS PAD : PITTURA ACRILICA, PITTURA VINILICA, COLLA ACRILICA, MATERIALE IRIDESCENTE SU COPRIMATERASSO, 85 X 200 CM, COURTESY T293, ROME-NAPLES


 Written by our friends at ATPdiary.com in colaboration with Matteo Mottin


 
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