ABSTRACT ENVY (2013 / 2021)
One key impulse in the oeuvre of the writer and visual artist Matias Faldbakken, who rose to international renown with his Scandinavian Misanthropy trilogy of novels (“The Cocka Hola Company,” “Macht und Rebel,” and “Unfun”) as well as his formalist sculptures, is the poverty of materials. Framed garbage bags or flattened cardboard boxes, cut-up jerricans or corded lockboxes: it is always with minimal gestures that Faldbakken renders everyday implements unusable and stages them as art. This understanding of abstraction – which dramatizes the banality of the ordinary with minor yet effective interventions, transcending its literal reality – correlates with the absence of an unequivocal narrative or explicit motif: the negative impulse of smudging, effacement, and destruction is the point of Faldbakken’s playwith iconic signifiers. His edition “ABSTRACT ENVY,” a kind of homage to the central subject of our 123rd issue, is a case in point. The black-and-white Ditone print on glossy photographic paper revisits a work that Faldbakken made in 2013 for his first solo show at Galerie Neu. Using the magnetic tape from a VHS cassette of the Hollywood flick “Envy” (starring Jack Black and Ben Stiller), Faldbakken created an abstract painting that, for this edition, he mounted on the wall of his studio.“Be Kind Please Rewind!” the cassette reads, in a kind of anachronistic nod to the artist’s self-quotation.