Dag Erik Elgin: Evening Drawings (Abendzeichnungen)


The works on show continue a serialized project instigated in 1996, where everyday observations drawn within the private sphere, later act as the motifs for paintings executed in the studio. The latest works introduce an expanded foundation in art historical references, as well as a new square format. These paintings, executed in oil on canvas, render the contours, either from a drawing, or from selected details of historical works.

Through projects such as MoDERNISM MACHINE (2012), Balance of Painters (2012), La Collection Moderne (2009), Originals (2010) and Figure (2007) Elgins production has centered on an investigation of the historical and immediate positions of modern painting. In Evening Drawings | Abendzeichnungen the perspective shifts from the public sphere and historical references, to a private space where observations are registered in the “here and now”. As such, the series forms a unifying core in Elgins artistic project; a meeting point where visual registration of an intimate nature, meets the larger art historical cataloguing. The project relates to the tension between private and public in artistic practice, and moves through distinctive levels of observation, interpretation and representation following the process from which a first, personal observation towards the publicized works autonomous existence, aesthetic and reception.

In Amour Vacui (2006) Jan Brockmann and Elgin reflect on the aspects of gaze and space in relation to the translation from drawing to painting: the original documentations occur with immediacy and involves a split gaze between the object registered and the registration on the paper. Within the studio environment, the gaze is “delayed” and “hermetic” in comparison to the original encounter, with no corrective outside the picture plane. “Simultaneously, there is a consciousness of the mental registration of countless views” and “there exists a corrective based on historical assumptions and images that have gone before”. The process starts from and contributes to a culturally and historically charged picture memory or picture potential and positions Evening Drawings | Abendzeichnungen within what Elgin describes as “a tension between partly trivial observations…and the discourse of painting”.

In 2013, when Elgin introduces art historical references in the pieces, it is through paintings that reflect modernitys transgressive introduction of the intimate into the work like Manets rendering of a daily meal, or Goyas slices of salmon. Elgin appropriates these motifs in the same visual format as his own sketches from the private home, and thus suggests an impartiality in visual memory, between the glance that falls on a drain plug and the glance that falls on a modernist master like Manet.

Dag Erik Elgin (b. 1962, Oslo) has exhibited extensively nationally and internationally since 1990. Recent presentations of his work include The National Museum of Contemporary Art, Oslo (2014/2015), OSL contemporary, Oslo (2014), Carnegie Art Award, Stockholm (2013), Henie Onstad Art Centre (2012), OSL contemporary, Oslo (2012), Stavanger Art Museum (2012), The National Museum of Contemporary Art, Oslo (2012), Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin (2012), Opdahl Gallery, Berlin (2012 and 2010) and The Institute of Social Hypocrisy, Paris (2010). In 2014 Elgin was awarded first prize in the Carnegie Art Award 2014 for his monumental work Balance of Painters. The series was presented at Konstakademin Stockholm in November 2013 and was on show this fall at The National Museum in Oslo. Elgin is currently working on Provenance Matisse, a research project to be presented as an exhibition at HOK, Henie Onstad Art Centre, in 2015.