“Mad About It” is an act of indiscretion and aims to look at torments of protagonists through the keyhole of a familiar place. The rooms behind the transparent keyhole is messy with preoccupations and doubts, like clothes laying on the floor of a teenager’s room. Henrik Olai Kaarstein’s protagonists seem to be wanderers, the kind that, when out for dinner, stop talking for an undetermined amount of time, pondering and drifting away from social life around. They are busy plumbing a place that has no ground nor sense of proportions, so that they find themselves lost enough to be locked down with their own distress.
Kaarstein’s motifs are recluse in a time-space, a black hole made out of intense feelings. The rooms depicted through both sides of the keyhole are domestic environments where one has somehow chosen to settle in hopes to dodge agitation from outside.
In the large scale collages made out of brightly coloured tissue paper on canvas, men are trapped. Disoriented along the tremendous flow of feelings which appear disproportionate. They are fermenting amongst themselves, hopelessly eyeing their possibilities for a way out. Trapped in a variation of geometrical shapes puzzled like a chess board. Having deployed the scenography of waiting, these characters may also be lying prostrate on a bathroom floor, or hunched over a kitchen tablecloth, awaiting the arrival of another protagonist to help play out this domestic scene in all its complexity.
Orbiting around this black hole of keyhole-hidden men are drawings of Norwegian landscapes, glued and transferred on pastel coloured bamboo mats. Landscapes, as the only possible loopholes, become targets, open spaces where one can project oneself. The targets are complemented with elements cut from magazines such as fruit, flowers and animals. Protagonists want to create paths to transpose themselves into an idyllic situation. The scenery they are trying to sketch is undetermined and uncertain, they are sputtered and seems sometimes unreachable. Perspectives are blurred, waiting for better times to be fully explored, hanging as mad projections of some fulfilled future.
“Mad About It” is the playground where a complexity of domestic scenes plays out. Objected characters, and characteristic landscapes, are endlessly expecting another protagonist to join them in the domestic net they have set up. Desperate for/and/or exhausted by themselves, they are trying to extend their capacity of attraction, like peacocks opening feathers, attempting to lure spectators into the tyranny of their emotions.
Henrik Olai Kaarstein (born 1989 Oslo, Norway) graduated from Staedelschule, Frankfurt in 2015. He was recently one of six Norwegian artists selected for the exhbition programme ”Sun and Spring in January: Next Generation in Norwegian Contemporary Art ” at the Astrup Fearnley Museum.
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