Asger Carlsen "Hester" @ V1 Gallery, Copenhagen

Jan 17, 2014 - Feb 15, 2014V1 Gallery, Copenhagen

We like the way V1 Gallery wrote their press release, so we are just going to go with it: Hester is not easy to explain. It has to be viewed and experienced. Hester is not easily understood. Sculptures of amorphous human figures photographed in non descript spaces. A cross between a David Lynch dream, a Henry Moore sculpture and a Francis Bacon painting, mixed by Dr. Jekyll in Frankenstein’s lab. Surreal cubistic tableaus in black and white.

The process is interesting. Seven years ago Asger Carlsen challenged himself with a new artistic task. A dogma. He had to create his new body of work in the studio. Carlsen had the notion that photography could be something else than an observation done with a camera. He would no longer roam the planet for a motif. Photography would be the material. He started shooting nude models, including himself, in the studio and building objects and merging the two digitally. The result is Hester, named after the street in New York where Carlsen has his studio, sculptures sculpted from photography and presented in the studio setting where they were created. Carlsen plays with photography in creating an open-ended interpretation of figures and shapes in departure from the traditional approach; his works are more materials than photographs, or maybe even photo- graphs of installations.

Taking in the series, 21 works in all, is an uneasy experience. The works highlight and undermine the human figure and beauty. We recognize ourselves in form; a spine, a leg, skin pores, buttocks, but at the same time the sculptures remain eerie alien. The works are filled with juxtapositions and often create a myriad of conflicting emotions in the viewer; beautiful, offensive, humorous, cruel, perverted, sexy, interesting, but never indifferent. It might be that the core of Hester is a discussion of our current ideals and notions of beauty.

Read our interview with Asger Carlsen, one of our "Best of 2013" stories