An exhibition by Jon Arne Mogstad, curated by Jeremy Welsh
Trondheim Kunstmuseum, Gråmølna
16 June - 30 September 2018.
|Installation shot from the main gallery|
It paints today and today it’s all about painting. And more. Jon Arne Mogstad has recently retired as Professor of Painting at Trondheim Academy of Fine Art and this exhibition will be both a summary of his artistic practice and a tribute to his many years as mentor to new generations of artists.
Painting is the core of Mogstad’s practice, but he is certainly not a monolinear artist. As a new;ly educated painter from the Oslo Art Academy in the early eighties he was a member of the artist group Lambretta whose agenda would seem to be to explode all boundaries for artistic practice. Installation, performance and video were part of a practice that would now be referred to as painting in the expanded field. After several years of intensive experimentation with the Lambretta group, Mogstad began to concentrate on his own painting and exhibited frequently at the Oslo space Galleri K. In the early nineties he began to teach at the Trondheim Academy, and from 2004 - 2011 he was Professor of Painting at Bergen Academy of Art and Design, before returning to Trondheim as institute leader and professor.
Between 2004 and 2011 Jon Arne Mogstad was part of the collaborative project LMW (Lossius, Mogstad, Welsh) which produced a series of installations combining painting with video, electronic mages and sound. The group’s projects took place in a variety of locations ranging from the Quart Festival in Kristiansand to KODE, Bergen Art Museum. During the same period, Mogstad and Welsh collaborated on two large commissioned projects for Halden Prison and for the Norwegian Postal Service’s distribution terminal in Lørenskog. Public commissions have over a long period been an integral part of Mogstad’s practice and he has realized large-scale projects for, among others, Telenor Fornebu, Drammen University College and St. Olavs Hospital, Trondheim.
Although he has traversed the boundaries of many different media, painting is central and always at the heart of Jon Arne Mogstad’s artistic practice. But he is not a “clean” painter - he has constantly explored new possibilities and materials, new combinations of materials, and has been unafraid to combine elements of figuration and abstraction in his work. Since 2012 he has worked with textile colours on canvas, a process that has resulted in works that are, mildly put, explosive in coloration and energy. A combination of coincidence in the way that the fluid colour spreads itself on the canvas and precision in the overpainting with thin layers of white has resulted in some of his most poetic works in the series “Veils” from 2017. For this exhibition, Mogstad has also made a series of new paintings entitled “Rainbow Chaser”, and two of these are amongst the largest works he has created. As the first and last paintings one encounters in the exhibition, these two large canvasses function as a sort of frame for the whole. They are powerful works that have a presence which adresses the viewer both visually and bodily.
With a main focus on paintings from the last few years, the exhibition will map a number of different tendencies in Jon Arne Mogstad’s artistic practice, and at the same time point forward for an artist who has never ceased to experiment and explore. The contemporary art discourse is often coloured by references to “artistic research”, a term that can be read in many different ways. But for Mogstad the central research question has always been: what painting is, what painting has been and what painting can become. Not a redundant question in a contemporary art world where painting has repeatedly been declare dead, but comes repeatedly back with renewed vigour and relevance. Mogstad is an artist with a deep knowledge of painting - its history and its material fundament - and a facility for combining references and tendencies from various periods in art history. American modernist abstraction from the mid 20th. century may be the greatest influence on his work , but he also takes inspiration from popular culture and from older periods of art history, especially the renaissance. His reinterpretation of motives from modernist abstraction is no nostalgic gesture, and at the same time one can not place his practice within the category of post modernism. But one can perhaps describe the painter Mogstad as a “dirty modernist”.
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