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Over the past ten years, New York-based artist Nick Theobald has made art from beeswax. This medium has its own life, and its own energetic resonance—bees consume honey, which is then metabolized into wax and secreted from their bodies. This wax is chewed to a soft texture by the bees, and subsequently reconstructed into hexagonal vessels that store pollen and honey. When this substance is brought into synchronicity with Theobald’s relationship to the nature of things and the nature of life, it is once again catalyzed. Unlike a true chemical catalyst, however, Theobald is also changed and made new by the reactions inherent in his experimentations.
Theobald processes beeswax by melting it at different temperatures to increase or decrease viscosity. For his paintings, he layers the melted wax (which can be cooler and paste-like or oily-hot, and varies in color depending on the diet of the honeybees and location where it was produced) onto wood panels. The story of one wax—deep, burnt umber tones made by bees gathering nectar and pollen from buckwheat flowers—is altered by the story of another: a pale, translucent variant made mostly made from lavender, according to the hive’s beekeeper. The multiple strata of shading and texture Theobald creates from these waxes behave something like a palimpsest of altering landscapes; the dark, firework-like explosive figurations on the diptych panels of Utopia Utopia (2018) are absorbed and redressed by quieter shapes in lighter shades, bending the narrative toward something softer and more remote—less earthbound. A faint scrawl of text floats on the surface of the piece—it spells out, twice, the word “utopia,” a domain of beneficent nonexistence. In Assumed Risk (2019), pale, milk-colored wax hovers over a stormy topography of dark and golden tones, recalling cloud dramas. Erased and remade, the stories held in each work become the tales of Scheherazade: complex and enchanting, with each new story disguising the simple wish to remain alive for one more night.
Like cave paintings where representation has evolved, rather than devolved, to abstraction, these surfaces suggest that there may be eternal truths that play themselves out in Theobald’s work. And as with the truest and most enduring forms of storytelling, they appear contemporary, or like they could’ve been made 200 years ago, or fifty years from now, or at the dawn of civilization. In this way, they bend time. This is a reading Theobald encourages. As a devotee of the Tarot de Marseille, Theobald sees the archetypal possibilities in these ambiguous forms, and through them illustrates the core driving principal of our human fable: we are here to find love, inwardly, outwardly, from above and below. This idea of love—where it comes from, and how to find it— pervades the works presented in The Fountain, shown in May 2019 at Galleri Jacob Bjørn.For Theobald, one finds love “by being at the heart of your passions, by returning to the fountain,” the same way a bee finds love by continually gathering pollen and bringing it back to the hive, a perpetual gesture that is something like a moving prayer.
Kilde: Aimee Walleston
8000 Aarhus C
Tor-fre 12-17, lør 11-15 og efter aftale