Fredrik Vaerslev uses carefully applied industrial spray paint and solvents on raw linen to recreate the look of used drop cloths. Born in Norway in 1979, Vaerslev, who graduated last year with an MFA from The Art Academy in Malmö, Sweden, is interested in the relationship between abstraction, representation, and ornamentation defined by Clement Greenberg. « Everything that usually serves representation and illusion is left to serve nothing but itself, that is abstraction; while everything that usually serves the abstract or decorative – flatness, bare outlines, all-over or symmetrical design – is put to the service of representation, » Greenberg wrote in the 1962 essay quoted on Vaerslev’s web page. « And the more explicit this contradiction is made, the more effective in every sense the picture tends to be. »
A vigorous but playful empiricist, Vaerslev explores the limits of non-hierarchical information, the monotony of the monochrome, the roles chance, deviation and ornament play in adding visual interest to what are essentially all-over compositions, or what he thinks of as « white noise. » After applying paint and solvents, he leaves the pieces outside where the weather ages them prematurely, giving them a pseudo history that evokes the poignant narratives of the authentic drop cloths that inspired them.
SHARON BUTLER, twocoatsofpaint.com