Mirror falling from the Wall
Ten paintings of identical size equally divided by a horizontal line defining two rectangles: The format cut in separate pictorial fields with the canvas left unprimed, alternatingly above or below the horizontal line. Painted in heavy impasto on top of primed, raw and coloured grounds, words with reference to painting’s theoretical framework and physical presence are distributed. Next to concepts related to mythology and painterly problematics, various pigments and solvents, occasionally even number of staples used, are listed. This juxtaposition of generic technical information with poetic descriptions seem to destabilize dichtonomies based on form and content.
In his last show Originals Grisaille, Elgin presented emphatic repetitions of early modernist works next to grey-scale versions of the same. In the present show Mirror falling from the Wall this split image is played out in singular works evoking pre-modernist repetitive strategies. In Ovid’s Metamorphosis, particularly in the figure of Echo, transformation is frequently a consequence of repetition. In Mirror falling from the Wall, the repeated format with its linear division echoes the divided structure and exact measurements (110×92 cm) of Caravaggio’s Narcissus. Rather than continuing modernism’s critique of repetition, painting’s narcissistic self-obsession and auto-erotic character is played out here. Painting’s alleged self-absorption offers an unexpected visual encounter in the blind-zone of the mirror; repetition as a strategy for invention.
Dag Erik Elgin’s work is informed by an ongoing investigation into the history of painting, modernist ideals and contemporary visual culture. He is concerned with establishing a practice where the specific physical qualities of painting, historical analysis and personal production are constantly negotiated. Recent projects like Mirror falling from the Wall, Originals Grisaille and La Collection Moderne introduce text based works and repetitive strategies as catalysts for exploring modernism’s ongoing affair with current cultural and aesthetic representations. A parallel production of texts accompanies the visual investigations, e.g. “Preparing for Painting to Happen” in: Josef Albers: no tricks, no twinkling of the eyes -Verlag der Buchhandlung Walter König, Cologne 2014 and “p.p. Provenance Painted” in: Looters, Smugglers, and Collectors: Provenance
Research and the Market – Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, Cologne, 2015.
Recent exhibitions include e.g. The Armory Show, New York 2017, Originals Grisaille, OSL Contemporary 2016, Expanding Frontiers, Fondation Hippocréne, Paris 2016, In search of Matisse, Henie Onstad Kunstsenter (HOK) 2015 and Black Mountain-An interdisciplinary Experiment, Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin 2015. Elgin was professor at Oslo National Academy of the Arts, Department of Fine Arts 2010- 2016. In 2014 he received the Carnegie Art Award.