Seaside and Figures is a painting in transformation. In recent months Johannes Sivertsen has repeated the same motif over and over again, so that it now exists in seven different versions, each of which differs marginally from the original. Vague oscillations in shades of color or slight variations of the brushstroke leave small but significant traces on each version. This influences our overall perception of the picture.
The subject, a group figures beside the sea, is a fusion of two paintings by Picasso from his early twentieth century Blue Period, an archetypal motif the popularity of which evokes the heroic years of European Modernism. The almost obsessive repetition of this subject reiterates not only the archetype it represents but also inconsistencies and distortions that are present in Picasso’s original paintings.
Every element of the repetition leaves a trace and Picasso’s original, slightly awkward anatomical details assume equal footing with the irregularities and glitches that arise in Sivertsen’s adaption of the paintings using Photoshop. Our attention is thus led both to the processes the pictures have undergone and to the preoccupation with perception itself that is not only inherent in the modernist project but also permeates our visual culture as a whole.
In openly staging and manipulating his reiteration of these figures beside the sea, Johannes Sivertsen highlights the impossibility of achieving an objective rendering of the subject.
With the aim of drawing attention to the underlying structures that form our vision Sivertsen works with the classical subject circles, techniques and materials of Art History. Through methods that have been almost ritually employed countless times, he conjures up pictures from the past and so points to the fact that our contemporary view of our environment is always formed by other pictures, pictures we have seen before and pictures that surround us and to which we become attached.
The archetypal representation of figures beside the sea does not mean the same today as it did in the time of Picasso, for we are influenced by the context within which we experience it. It is part of a constant exchange of visual information, which connects it with the different value-laden questions, frames of mind and narratives that provide the conditions for its creation. The picture is not a representation of a scene or of reality, but instead tells a story about how it is or has been seen.
About the artist
Johannes Sivertsen, born 1984 in Paris, educated at the Funen Art Academy in Odense.
Previous exhibitions at (selected) : Ok Corral, Ringsted Galleriet (solo exhibitions), Overgaden Institute of Contemporary Art, bendixen contemporary art, Sydhavn Station (group exhibitions)
Kilde: Prince Gallery
Hauser Plads 16A
1127 Kbh K
Tirs-lør kl. 12-17.30
Søn kl. 12-16
+45 42 61 78 50