Giò Marconi is very pleased to announce, “Home is where my art is”, Fredrik Værslev’s second solo exhibition at the gallery. The focus of the show is on Fredrik Værslev’s terrazzo paintings. A body of small-scale works are exhibited inside a series of wooden houses Fredrik Værslev specifically produced and painted for the show.
Fredrik Værslev – Easy to Clean and Easy to Ignore
“Every artist is linked to a mistake with which he has a particular intimacy. All art draws its origin from an exceptional fault, each work is the implementation of this original fault, from which comes a risky plenitude and new light”.
(Maurice Blanchot, in The Book to Come)
The floor means civilizing the ground we walk on. Floors replace the naked ground in all its crudeness. Laying a floor means starting the construction of borders between nature and civilisation. A floor – made out of wood, concrete or plastic – signifies a place on earth.
The concept of place specificity has been used in a number of artistic strategies over the years. Around the turn of the century, curator and art historian Miwon Kwon wrote about how site-specific art was “becoming more and more ‘unhinged’ from the actuality of the site”. In a similar manner Fredrik Værslev’s terrazzo paintings mimic a process of unhinging when his paintings lift patterns that belong to floors, terrazzo floors, onto a surface that is then exposed vertically to the audience. The patterns mentally connect to floors, but are places cut loose from spatial connections. They become objects of aesthetic contemplation, but also objects that enable meditations on everything from the fluidity of space in a digitalized world to nostalgic longings for a specific type of floor.
Værslev’s terrazzo paintings have a specific genealogy. He has dealt with the often bland, but omnipresent, terrazzo floors in post-war Scandinavian staircases of multi-storey buildings. He has been looking for meaningful painterly transformations from concrete to canvas.
These floors often have a concrete grey tone spotted with a dirty white. They are both easy to clean and easy to ignore. Their characteristic pattern is achieved by mixing into the concrete a ballast of gravel. The whole is then grinded and honed until the original surface with all of its individual bumps turns into a smooth, even pattern. The three-dimensional surface becomes a kind of two-dimensional cross-section, a visual code.
The genealogy has also been expanded, to the terrazzo floors of old palazzi in Venice. In them, fine terrazzo alla veneziana, centuries old, often patterned with inlays of concrete and ballasts in various colours, seem to float and make slight waves as the unstable grounds are reflected in settlements in the pavements.
But terrazzo as a material goes further back in time than Venice and was frequently used in antiquity. In a hierarchy of floors terrazzo was – in spite of its creative possibilities and technical advantages – regarded as the ordinary, overshadowed by both mosaics and solid stone. But, as is often the case, the most common materials have an unusual potential for survival, and they resurface in both 16th century palazzi and Scandinavian modernist multi-storey dwellings.
Fredrik Værslev’s paintings are not primarily about metaphysical speculations and rituals, in spite of superficial likenesses with the works of painters like Jackson Pollock. Værslev is, in his artistic research – be it about terrazzo floors, awnings or sundecks – profoundly interested in the everyday. The everyday is his starting point. This is brought into the sphere of fine art through the simulation of patterns. He studies that which we step on or walk by, abstracts it into colours on a surface, often letting the unpainted play with the painted.
It is a sequence of architectural dialogues; with history, with materials, with places, with theories, and with viewers. Ultimately it is about unhinged experiences reconnecting to walls over and over again.
(art historian and writer)
 Miwon Kwon, in October, Vol. 80. (Spring, 1997), One Place after Another: Notes on Site Specificity, p. 96.
Fredrik Værslev - Home is where my art is
Giò Marconi, September 16 - October 29