To Place Yourself In The Eye Of The Storm By Vibeke Petersen Malene Landgreen uses a sample technique of various artistic choices. She works with re-circulation of the abstract expressionism, concrete art, minimalism, conceptual art and pop art. This is her background. How does she manage this background? If we look at her series: Subversus of 1991, Way of Thinking of 1994 and Arrogance of 1995, a tone has been set in several ways. It becomes clear in the choice of works in series, the choice of titles and the choice of media – the painting. If we look at the three series together it is possible to see an artistic movement that moves from a tightly structured abstract language to a free and looser structure that is being held in place by large monochrome color fields. The mix of geometrical structure and a free running structure is apparent already in the early nineties when it becomes part of Landgreen’s artistic signature. The series becomes precursors for her large site specific works from 1997 and onwards. The series Subversus, Way of Thinking and Arrogance indicate Landgreen’s move from the conventional gallery to the far more complicated relationship between architecture, design and art. In these series, all of which are embedded into recirculation of the expression of modernism, Landgreen speaks more specifically of some artistic concepts that interest her in particular, or lies implicitly in her paintings: ■ That
the formal becomes defined and recognizable. ■ That the intuitive becomes clear. ■ That there is an opening – there has to be something at the very end – something that can’t be seen but with which we continue alone. ■ That the empty surface becomes visible so that the void can be clearly visible too. ■ That the large space is defined while leaving room for uncertainty in the shape of cracks, dents. ■ That the edge of the picture is left open, which allows lines, planes and other objects to expand the surface. These are the compositional rules Landgreen shows us in the three series. They show Landgreen’s desire to experiment with colors, form, configuration and space and give her the options to vary the expression. She makes aesthetical experience visible. We must conclude that even if Landgreen’s
paintings take their starting point in classical tradition and as such adhere to it, other factors also play in. Her urge to translate the knowledge and insight that the nature of materials and the format of her pictures have given her through the 1990’s leads to far more complex arrangements in the future. Landgreen has taken the step into a far more explosive area. She is moving in an interdisciplinary field where the discussion of interaction between art and design is still a hot topic. When a painting becomes so vast that it no longer stays within its frame but transcends the architectural space, a transformation occurs. The transformation from ‘a painting’ to ‘the act of decorating’ a space. Does this mean that the way with which we sense and perceive art cannot be achieved because we have reduced the act of decoration to an empty gesture? Is what we witness here actually a discontinuation of art because art cannot invoke a subjective expression? Is this really true? It is the subject of ongoing discussions. What we can conclude today is that art and design are collaborators in our common reality. Art’s lauded status has suffered a decline for most of the 20th century, Subversus, 1991. Acrylic on canvas. 200 x 100 cm. Photo ML while the concept of design has achieved a status that allows for us to is strong enough, whether the artist’s posiexperience sensory awareness equal to the tion is unique, and whether he or she brings aesthetic experience. Art and design coex- something unique to his or her art. ist in the same reality today. Intellectually and emotionally both areas allow us to see Landgreen does not hold back when it comes and experience aspects of reality that would to placing herself in the eye of the storm. normally have escaped us. But it happens in When she was invited to participate in the ways respective to the form. show Matisse& at Statens Museums for Especially within art’s own domain, un- Kunst, Copenhagen, in 2005, she moved certainty rules about whether the expression into a crossover between art and design that
was very hard for critics to accept. Her work was hardly mentioned in the ensuing press. The show also featured the Danish video artist Jesper Just and the Finish photographer Aino Kannisto. There were 9 great works of art by Matisse from the period 1905 to 1918, all of which are in the museum’s collection. The idea was to let three contemporaries relate to Matisse’s works. Jesper Just and Aino Kannisto chose to present their works in rooms next to where the Matisse works were displayed. A presentation of how different types of identity manifested in their work – with the artist as the center of these identity changes. Landgreen however chose to bite straight into Matisse. The problem of identity was experimented with in a completely different manner. Her confrontation was far more direct as she chose to create an installation in the actual room where the Matisse paintings hung. To play up against such a great artist as Matisse requires not a small portion of courage. Knowing Landgreen’s work, one would know that it was both an irresistible and challenging task she had put herself to.
Matisse &, 2005. Installation views. SMK, National Gallery of Denmark. Photo ASB
How did she solve it? She chose to create a frame around the Matisse paintings by various artistic and sculptural concepts that took place right between art and design. Acknowledging how their strenghts weren’t equal, she sophisticatedly underplayed her part. She chose to underline and point out. Dais and platforms were created in geometric and organic sculptures, painted and placed on the floor under several of the Matisse works. Landgreen painted markings directly on the wall using various types of brush strokes, lines and colored sections. Behind the two portraits of Matisse and his wife, Landgreen marked the signifying both psychologically and formal. Through her painted markings she emphasized especially the disturbing qualities of the two portraits. Matisse has emphasized the portrait’s expressions in an explosion of colors
and daring compositions. The paintings can absolutely be defined as unsightly. Especially in the Portrait of Madame Matisse the ugliness is exaggerated. Landgreen extended and intensified the formal figurative language of the portraits well beyond their frames. She also underlined the unattractiveness as the main quality formally, content-wise and aesthetically. The initial ‘overall composition’ which prevails in Matisse’s paintings, was taken to its utmost consequence by Landgreen, as in a direct opposition to her painting installation. Landgreen created a new artistic approach to a formulation of a classical frame. Her concept was to point at the frame of design of the installation and contribute with her own artistic signature. Vibeke Petersen, senior researcher Mag.Art, translated by Mirjam Bastian
Published on Jul 3, 2013