press release

Finish born Axel Antas’ multi-disciplinary practice encompasses photography, drawing and video. However, regardless of medium, recent work further develops what could be considered the artists interest in displacement and the abstraction of the self as physical entity.

Axel Antas’ drawings are light and almost mechanical in their execution, there is little depth to the tonal range and often subjects will float in an expanse of paper. Recently Antas has shifted his attention to mans relationship with nature. Very large scale drawings show dead trees. Sometimes figures appear, though their faces are obscured or they offer only their backs to the viewer. In other drawings clothes are hung listlessly on branches, suggesting a former presence or some natural disaster and most recently empty boxes, both cardboard and bird boxes have begun to appear. In such drawings though human presence is suggested the subject is denied and instead becomes an empty sign onto which the viewer can project their own experiences, thoughts and uncertainties.

Recent photographs which will be shown at Rokeby include the White Out series in which long exposures bleach rolling landscapes of colour draining them of their authenticity. We encounter familiar scenes somewhere beyond our immediate reach; incomprehensible yet somehow familiar like a dreamscape or faded image. An additional ongoing series of landscape photographs focus on interventions made by the artist; clouds of smoke form across idyllic landscapes, again obscuring each scene. Whilst seemingly absurd each landscape is enchanting at same time, and like the rest of the artists work, both graceful and mystical. Throughout the artist’s oeuvre is a mood of meditative significance, emphasis is placed on existential questioning and our interest in, response to and relationship to, the wider natural world.

Axel Antas was born in Finland where he has exhibited widely; recent exhibitions include Interventions, a solo exhibition at Galleria Heino, Helsinki and Silent Conversations, at the Kuvataideakatemian Galleria, Helsinki. He has exhibited extensively in the rest of Scandinavia and Europe, most notably London, where the artists lives and works. Antas has been selected to represent Scandinavia at this year’s Statements Section of the Paris Photo Fair, selected by Andrea Holzerr, his work is currently included in group exhibitions in Portugal and Denmark.

Antas’ exhibition at Rokeby will be his first solo exhibition in London since 2001. His work is held in a number of private and public collections including the Kiasma, Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki, Saastamoisen säätiö, Kuopio Art Museum and the Helsinki City Art Museum.

With thanks to Frame, The Finnish Fund for Art Exchange, The Finnish Embassy, Finlandia and The Finnish Institute.

Axel Antas
Nature of Things