Over de expositie
The appropriation of images from the past and the mixture of different types of references is a characteristic feature of postmodernism which leads to surprising revisions that are highly variable from the old models. Attentive of the work of young international artists, Luis Adelantado Gallery presents in this exhibition two different ways of producing art from a current point of view, but with an eye on the major figures in Western pictorial tradition. The joint vision of the works of Morten Slettemeås (Norway, 1975) and Jon Rafman (Canada, 1981) shows that we are dealing with two very different artistic productions in form and content that feed primarily on the same sources: the major reference of art history and everything that encompasses contemporary visual culture. Meaning, combining and blurring the boundaries between high culture and mass culture.
In the case of the paintings by Morten Slettemeås, his appropriation is less clear beyond a few echoes of the Fauvist painting or neo-expressionism which the artist brings to his terrain thusgenerating his own very recognizable aesthetics. However, a careful study of his works allow the viewer to discover a series of characters already found in works by Claude Monet or JeanFrançois Millet, and even equestrian portraits from centuries past. These characters are often mixed with current images taken from the media, as we see in the piece Cover in which two characters hidden behind a parapet are actually two real people drawn from a press photograph of the revolts of the Arab Spring. This appropriation is radicalized in the digital works of Jon Rafman which add to the anterior the questioning of the concepts; copyright and authorship. In his series New Age Demanded, the artist uses a computer program to model 3D busts of sculptural appearance, to which he applies a series of textures taken from reproductions of paintings by Saura, Tàpies or Rodchenko. Thus the artist borrows images of works from the past to provide a personality alien to their own creations. But with the Brand New Paint Job series he goes a step further by making it a double appropriation: in this case he not only uses the works of Juan Gris, O'Keefe and Picasso as textures, but he also applies them to spaces modeled in 3D (views of postapocalyptic cities, living rooms ...) which have been shared by users of a free software program on the Internet, turning them into variegated images with a videogame like appearance.
So Slettemeås’ paintings constitutes nonliteral appropriations, subtle and difficult to recognize, in which the artist empties the images of their original meaning, thus fragmenting and turning his works into allegories of multiple readings. Rafman on his part tells us that culture should be accessible, reusable and shareable to everybody. The result is a joint exhibition which reveals a deep awareness of artistic tradition, a clever combination of high culture and mass culture and where, despite their considerable differences, the works connect the past with the present, revisiting it from a current point of view and projecting it into a future where digital commands but where painting resists.