press release

Simon Lee Gallery Hong Kong is proud to present an exhibition of new work by renowned Norwegian artist and writer Matias Faldbakken.

In his practice as an artist, Matias Faldbakken often displaces and reconfigures mass-produced functional objects with a specific cultural significance, using the most minimal means of intervention possible to develop what could be termed a kind of agitated idleness. Garbage bags, Jerry cans, Lockers, tiles, televisions, paper, posters, books, magazines, chrome spray, electrical tape, nails, lever straps, angle grinders and metal bindings are some of the materials he uses to draw, crunch, screw, spray, compress and invert, in a variety of apparently vandalistic gestures, interrupting any habitual approach to reading and interpreting the object.

In Faldbakken’s words, “(in my practice) a ‘parody’ of the formal is never far the same time the insistence on the physical presence of the work...and the possibility of its aesthetic precision, might gain enough authority for these ‘comedic’ be constantly destabilized or overruled...the idea of resigning, to resort to a more muted, gestural, wordless visual and formal practice because it has the air of being simultaneously doomed and potent..I like that. That ‘in-between’ quality. “

For this exhibition, Faldbakken elaborates on his ongoing exploration of serial objects, with ‘Untitled (Coin Locker Sculpture)’. As with his earlier Locker sculptures, he uses a simple technique to merge or make unique a series of identical, mass-produced objects. A horizontal line is cut through the lockers with an angle grinder, but this seemingly destructive gesture is at the same time a unifying one. The cut line could be read as a drawing, transforming the locker from container to content.

In addition to the exhibition, there will be new canvas works on view. While Faldbakken’s work is often read through the lens of the Situationists, Dada and Punk, this ongoing series of canvases tends towards the negativistic litany of Ad Reinhardt, whose signature black paintings, in combination with his texts, challenged the limits of art production as such. Echoing Reinhardt’s zero-format 5ft square scale, the canvases are made in high-grade Belgian linen with stretchers in Norwegian wood, in deliberate contrast to the casual gestures on their surface. Faldbakken first used black electrical tape to make marks on the canvas, always with the minimal intervention possible to achieve his objective: rejecting language and undermining ideas of form. He has developed this series using graphite and most recently white Molotow tagger pen on canvas, seen in these new works – a thick, satisfyingly indelible pen used by graffiti artists. The standard forms – squares, rectangles and overlapping lines - nod to both the formal language of Minimalism and that of vandalism whilst undercutting both.

Faldbakken was born in Hobro, Denmark in 1973. He studied at the National Academy of Fine Arts in Bergen and later at the Städelschule in Frankfurt. His work has been exhibited widely in Europe, with solo exhibitions in the Scandinavian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, National Museum of Art, Oslo, the IKON Gallery, Birmingham, Kunsthalle Skt Gallen, Switzerland. Kunsthalle Friedricanum, Kassel, Schinkel Pavillion, Berlin, Neuer Aachener

only in german

Matias Faldbakken