Martin Skauen
31 Jan 2009 – 07 Mar 2009

Laura Bartlett Gallery is pleased to present the first s0lo exhibition at the gallery by Martin Skauen (b.1975 Norway).

The exhibition consists of a series of new drawings, sculpture and collage. Skauen merges the formal language of classical portraiture and drawing with his own darkly humorous vocabulary. The work can be read in terms of the Surrealist strategy of rupture and discord; Skauen’s subjects are located directly between ordinary experience and pure chaotic contingency.

Untitled (Portraits I-VII), 2009, is a series of seven small works on paper- portraits of Victorian men. The pose and poise of his sitters, perhaps eminent composers, writers or scientists of the day, remains intact despite the introduction of incongruous elements such as a lack of eyes or an attack by a bird.

The Fleet, 2009 is a sculpture made from the pages of the 1962 novel ‘Ship of Fools’ by Katherine Anne Porter. Rolled up book pages form a small raft, and the text on its sail describes a colony of peoples characterized by a synchronicity of “violence and lethargy”. With this work, Skauen proposes that it is often within a context of boredom and nausea that narrative unfolds.

Skauen’s interest in the state of anomie and condition of the absurd, continues in the work Rabbits, 2009. This collage depicts two rabbits united by a piece of gold ribbon that pierces through their eyes. The work is beautiful, grotesque, and casual. Another collage, Das Original, 2009 depicts a man whose head has been cracked apart.

Downstairs, Cane, 2009 is a sculpture of a rotating walking stick. The cane, a sign of wisdom or dignity, appears here as a bizarre totem, turned upside down hanging from a chain. Twisting on the floors surface, as if to bore a hole in it, the work is a visualization of a pervading apprehension and what Skauen describes an ‘the threatening excess of the real.’

Martin Skauen was born in Fredrikstad, Norway in 1976. He studied at the National Academy of Fine Arts in Oslo and last year completed a residency at Kunstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin. Skauen has exhibited in numerous group exhibitions including Astrup Fearnley Museum, Oslo, Athens Biennial, Athens, Kunstverein Frankfurt, Gotesborg Kunsthall in Sweden and Unge Kunsternus Hus, Oslo. Recent solo exhibitions include MGM Galeri, Oslo and Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin.

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