Pressemelding -

The 5 corners of the world by Steinar Christensen.

On Steinar Christensens appropriation of Jan Van Kesesls the four Continents.

Text by Arnt Fredheim.

In a world of changes, where words like ’storms’ and ‘floods’ are seen in daily use and the magnetic north pole is fixed somewhere over Canada and moving full ahead against Sibiria, a modern version of the Four Continents by Jan van Kessel may no longer dwell on the fixed vision of the four continents. Turbans are to be swapped by fire extinguishers. The lingering brown hued Arcadian landscapes are to be filled with snow. Anonymous moths must take the place formerly occupied by Oriental butterflies.

Chilly Nordic landscapes must be given the ambiguous apparition of snow-scapes from a postcard-world, with anonymous Arran Browns and reminiscences of low-voiced vegetation counteracting its icy magnificence. Van Kessels basic context and his excuse to commit his brushes to the painting of natural history collections, namely the possibility to revere in powerful symbols and an triple-eyed iconography, is scraped to the skin, yes maybe even to the bone. And so we are left with empty industrial halls filled with silent white light, a solitary spade or a row of windows watching us with all their knowledge. We are left with concrete walls bereaved of its former make-up and an understanding that the times people inhabited these premises are long past.

The particular structure created by van Kessel by filling a center panel with a voluptuous and life-enjoying vivacity, and by framing this center panel with 16 smaller sister panels communicating with its larger brother in the middle, easily finds a place in our world of digital pull down-menus. In the same manner our world has become globalized – our sense of directions has changed from south to north rather than west to east, so the continents or what we commonly call the four corners of the world, is anonymized in Christensen’s pictures. We are left with what the Chinese would call ‘mo jüan’, ink traces, a word they used to describe both painting and calligraphy. And in the same manner Chinese calligraphers put their pride in performing true art with their writing, but at the same took the care to hide the hard labour and the deep understanding behind every trace of ink on the silk paper, Christensen’s world of pictures seem a little haphazard, muscularly un-precise and yet deadly to the point.

The pictures are pure concept art, based on long studies, thorough planning and a synthesis of many years of thinking around aesthetic questions. When the whole composition is ready in the mind of the artist, he calls his photographer, Gunnar Mjaugedal, who under thorough – but silent – instruction helps him to visualize his projects.


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  • ellen-k syverstad
  • kultur og næringsliv
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  • kunstfotografi
  • pug//1
  • roger ballen
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