WILDFLOWERS – Rune Christensen

WILDFLOWERS – Rune Christensen

The Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery presents a new Series by artist Rune Christensen in Berlin. The solo exhibition starts by the 2nd of June 2023.

Once upon a time there were two girls who rode horseback through the forest at night, gathering flowers and fighting off any predators that they met along the way. WildflowersRune Christensen’s second solo exhibition at Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery takes the form of a fairytale that reaches through time, far back into the ancient past and forward into the future. 

Each scene is inspired by the stories that the artist invents for his two daughters in which he imagines them to be fearsome warriors or ‘knight princesses’, but while these aural tales might be filled with bravery and drama, the paintings are more tentative with loose, watery brush-marks and a mix of bold and fading colours. In this way, they project a melancholic sense of beauty that feels both vivid and wavering. 

cultivation and wilderness

For Christensen, painting is a way of collecting and making sense of the many sights and experiences that he has accumulated over his lifetime. Each of his compositions incorporates a vast array of references to different cultures, fashions and beliefs which are unified by the artist’s distinct style and colour palette. 

This latest series, for example, was prompted by a recent trip to the Canadian province of Alberta, which is colloquially known as ‘wild rose country’ after the tough species of flower which naturally grows there. While the inclusion of horses and riders may allude to the local cowboy culture, the setting provided atmospheric inspiration more than specific imagery, leading Christensen to consider ideas around cultivation and wilderness – how we tame not just the land but ourselves by reinforcing ideas around social status and gender.

a vision of a new world order.

Significantly, in these works, the women are the protagonists: the protectors and providers that appear, at times, almost godlike, their skin strangely translucent and gaze all-seeing. Hunter references traditional military paintings in which an important historical figure, typically a man, is depicted in uniform on a rearing horse. Here, however, the figure is a woman wearing a dress patterned with leaves; she rides a two headed horse and aims a spear at the throat of a leopard. The scene, like many in this series, is framed by a floral arch and set against a dark sky scattered with bright stars. 

The effect is purposefully theatrical and other-worldly, allowing seemingly opposite forces – nature and humanity, masculine and feminine, hot and cold, old and new – to combine on a single surface. It is a vision not of harmony exactly, but a new world order. 

This is perhaps best represented by the recurring motif of the vase or pot, which appears here in the hands of the figures or as a vessel for flowers in two smaller-scale still life works. For Christensen, the pot refers both to the evolution of human history as a creation that enabled us to store food and water and to move away from hunting and gathering, and to his approach to painting ‘as a vessel for my experiences and a release.’ 

touches of luminescence

Already gone , 2023. Spray paint, acrylic, pencil, oil paint and oil pastel on canvas | 80 x 60 cm | 31 1/2 x 23 5/8 in

In these works, it is also a symbol of our contemporary desire to own or contain nature. In the still-life works there is a distinct contrast between the stillness of the composition and the irregularity of the flowers. Their blooms appear drained of colour and in each, a single petal has fallen, serving as a memento mori – a reminder of the fragility of life – as well as an ironic nod to the destructive impacts of human interference.

At the same time, we could also view these bouquets as metaphors for Christensen’s own anxieties about the future of his daughters, who appear at their most haunting and fragile, sitting side by side on a horse in Blood Moon, staring blankly out at the viewer. Will their lives feel contained by society or will they, like him, find their own sense of freedom and release? 

Though the nocturnal setting and darker, muted tones of this latest series lend the work an unnerving, ghoulish quality, there are touches of luminescence, which seem to visualize an inner glow or warmth that rises up through the trunks of the trees and emanates from his figures’ cheeks. At the same time, the watery application of paint and rough edges creates a feeling of uncertainty or perhaps potential, as if to say the way of the world is not set, through art it can be undone and remade time and time again.


WILDFLOWERS

Rune Christensen

2 June – 1 July
Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery
Linienstr. 130
10115 Berlin
Germany

Discover More about the Artist or the Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery here.

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