Per Dybvig: The Hunter – A Tale from the Woods

Vogelschützer
Bronze
193 x 90 x 116 cm
Ed.5 +2 AP
2015

04.09.15–20.09.15

Excerpt from «The Hunter – A Tale from the Woods» by Geir Nummedal, editor Cappelen Damm
The text is published in Vinduet #2/2015
Translated from Norwegian by Neil Howard

With this autumn’s coming picture book, The Hunter. A Tale from the Woods, Per Dybvig puts an odds-on stop to a universe he has explored over a number of years using various techniques and means of expression. The stop is being honoured with a solo exhibition at Galleri Opdahl from the 4th to the 20th of September 2015 when all the original drawings – 78 in total – are being exhibited in connection with the launch of the book. This autumn he makes his debut as picture book creator. The Hunter is a complex, surreal picture book portraying a universe out of balance, balanced as only an accomplished artist can. Artistic styles are herein blended and blasted into myriad levels, establishing a peculiar internal logic, full of tripwires. In The Hunter, Dybvig draws with the thinnest of technical pens: 0.13 millimeters, the size of a small needle. The richness of detail is overwhelming, the level of precision likewise. The fur details on the grotesquely beautiful animals amount to a dizzying number of pen strokes on the paper. These are drawings that require precision and time. The pen strokes seem nevertheless rapidly and easily applied, without hesitation. The power and energy behind them is typical of Dybvig, but such extremely detailed work represents something new in his bibliographical context. Most of the originals are drawn on paper measuring 26 x 36 centimeters. In order to avoid the thin lines blotching upon scanning and printing, the originals are reproduced 1:1. The autumn exhibition will show the drawings in the same order as the book, thus documenting a unique 1:1 parallel. Dybvig has stated* that the inspiration for his recent years’ work stems from a woodcut by Georg Pencz. Pencz’ woodcut, dated to 1535, bears the title «Hasen fangen die Jäger» («The Hares Capture the Hunter»), macabre but humorous. Here the roles are turned on their heads: The hunter has been captured, hung from a tree by his bound arms, while the hares rapturously prepare the feast. Of Dybvig’s animated film Hunter, Hare, Dog, drawn in black wax crayon and with an English voice-over from Craig Whitson, art critic Trond Borgen** accurately commented: «Hunter, dogs and hares perform in an absurd tale while a laconic narration partly confirms, partly contradicts what we see – the fable form is perverted into a comedy about existence, coloured with pitch-black humour. Norwegian folk tales and classic western myths meet and emphatically blow each other to pieces.» As I sit here with the extensive material for The Hunter, looking forward to sending it to print, it is striking how well Borgen’s description fits. Here there are both animals and hunter(s). Familiar, hard-boiled props such as cigarettes and pistols. Enormous, remarkably beautiful flowers with no constraints. Majestic mountain landscapes. The dissolution of the realistic. Shifts in perspective and scale. And this time too, as so often with Dybvig, there is something new: a hand-written text, which both supplements and disassociates from the drawings. The core of The Hunter consists of animals and nature. That animals assume such a prominent position is by no means unexpected from an artist who is particularly well-known for his original animal personalities. This time the animals are more peculiar than ever and not immediately recognizable as species from our own world. These animals whiff most of hares, dogs and birds but that’s not all. Here they are part bovine, rodent, or a smidgen of gnu. Dybvig’s animals are given clear human characteristics. They walk on two legs, chain-smoke with one hand and hold a pistol in the other. Even more striking is that many of the animals have assimilated nature. Stems and branches grow in the place of horns –
Birds have peg-like beaks –

A furry leg transforms into the end of a plank –

It is difficult to find words that grasp what emerges from the pages. How would you describe an animal that possibly grows out of a thick tree-trunk, which does not grow in a natural way but is nailed to the ground with a kind of plinth? What is this? A kind of … apocalyptic, weird kind of leprosy? There are hybrids of various surreal compositions, the 3-in-1 favourite of animal-human-nature being the recurring figure: the animal that has subsumed both humankind and nature.

* Benedicte Ramm. «Illustrerte klassikere». Portrait interview in D2 03.04.2014
**Trond Borgen.2014. Tegning i bevegelse. Numer 2/2014:34

Vogelschützer
Bronze
193 x 90 x 116 cm
Ed.5 +2 AP
2015
Vogelschützer
Bronze
193 x 90 x 116 cm
Ed.5 +2 AP
2015
Installation view
Installation view
Installation view
The Hunter – A Tale from the Woods
The Hunter – A Tale from the Woods
The Hunter – A Tale from the Woods
The Hunter – A Tale from the Woods

Installation photography: Erik Sæter Jørgensen