Paul Fägerskiöld, “Pale Blue Dot” at NORDENHAKE [SE]
Terra Incognita, 2016, Oil on canvas with walnut frame, 238 x 331 cm
Paul Fägerskiöld, “Pale Blue Dot”
Stockholm April 07th – May 14th, 2016
Pale Blue Dot is the title of a photograph of planet Earth taken at the request of astronomer Carl Sagan on February 14, 1990, by the Voyager 1 space probe from a record distance of about 6 billion kilometers. In the photograph the planet appears as a tiny dot against the vastness of space, among bands of sunlight scattered by the camera’s optics. In relation to Paul Fägerskiöld’s second exhibition at Galerie Nordenhake Stockholm the image addresses issues around colour, scale, perspective, space and time.
The exhibition draws together three groups of work developed in parallel over recent years. The distinct series White Flags, Landscapes and Spray paintings build up a narrative in repetition and change, while shifts in scale create transitions from symbol to metaphor and on to the paintings’ physical components.
In his practice Fägerskiöld explores how meaning is created via language, how it can be generated in pictorial space, and how perception functions. There are no figures in the paintings which are instead dependent on the presence of an observer as co-creator of meaning, whether via thought or movement.
The White Flag paintings comprise an ongoing series of representations of flags of nations that no longer exist. A white flag alludes to surrender and the removal of colour from the original emblem divests it of its national identity and subverts its meaning. For this exhibition Fägerskiöld has chosen only flags which incorporate the sun in their motifs as a unifying element. The sun has particular importance as humankind’s most primitive and elemental symbol and the most fundamental measure of time. The size of the flag is scaled up or down so the sun is the same diameter in each rendition.
The Landscape paintings are characterised by reduced forms, used to create representation and metaphor. A large-scale black painting, distributed with small unpainted star shapes, expands upon the star section of the U.S. flag. The spatial inter-relationships remain consistent with the original while the field is vastly enlarged and the stars themselves are reduced. The stars then move from language and symbols (as in the White Flags), to pattern, and finally to image (of a night sky). Another large-scale landscape describes a curved horizon in a solid block on the lower third of the surface. The unpainted linen, constituting the greater part of the painting, is as equally composition and image as that which is painted. The result is a fundamental shape and simultaneously an image of the curvature of the earth from a great distance.
The Spray paintings are read through movement and interaction. At a distance the painting is an image of a colour. On approach the image dissolves and its constituents become physical – small dots of paint in relation to one another. In the inverse movement, away from the surface, a view which at first appears to include everything and be endless, at a distance becomes finite, with an edge, floating within the confines of the framed linen. This “contraction” gives space for the viewer and recalls the Kabbalah’s tzimtzum, a concept visited in modern painting history.
The exhibition examines the ambivalence that exists between image, painting, idea, and material. There is only one subject in each of Fägerskiöld’s paintings. Relationships do not exist within the paintings themselves but are generated between the surface, the image and the viewer.
Images courtesy of the Gallery and Artist