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Kunsthalle Fridericianum

With his art Gardar Eide Einarsson examines fundamental structures of social conflicts in modern societies based on the interplay between authority and rebellion. He focuses on expressions of power, on control and suppression, on methods and manifestations of sub- and countercultures, as well as on individual people who gained international renown as dictators, terrorists or mass murderers.

While Einarsson’s preferred artistic media are very varied, ranging from painting and graphic art, to installation, sculpture, ready-made objects and flags, to film and photography, their formal and visual appearance is very reduced. Minimal Art and the conceptual art of the 1960s and 70s are clearly his art-historical references. Einarsson continues the aims of these movements by linking simple, plain form with weighty content that opens up several levels. The artist’s motifs consist of fragments, excerpts from texts, pictures or films, as well as coats of arms, signs and symbols, which he enlarges to give them special significance. The sources of these motifs come from everyday life and popular media such as the Internet, films and literature, including comics. Thus, viewers find in his work suspended speech bubbles with no body next to them, and statements in the form of graffiti or neon writing taken from popular car stickers. This formal minimalism is visually underpinned by the frequently occurring opposition between black and white, particularly in the artist’s paintings. The geometric shapes with plain iconography turn out to be heraldic signs (Untitled (Family Crest), 2008), details from book cover motifs (The Meaning of Limited War, 2010 and Caligula (Incitatus), 2010) or sketches of violent crimes, such as that of the so-called Oklahoma Bomber, who set off a bomb in front of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995 (Untitled (Barrels), 2006).

With his artistic method of precisely and carefully choosing a detail, an excerpt, or a fragment, Gardar Eide Einarsson shows himself to be a conscientious researcher of social (mis)relationships and of the frequent criminal phenomena resulting from them. Attentive und thoughtful, but with straightforward logical consistency, he presents themes that give viewers food for thought and that open up complex facets. For example, the powerful neon sculpture Caligula (2010) radiates bright letters into the space. After viewers decipher the name of the famous Roman emperor and tyrant, they find out that the work was modelled on the neon writing of a Mexican striptease club.

In his solo exhibition Power Has a Fragrance, Gardar Eide Einarsson creates a scenario that illustrates social conflicts between individuals and the societies in which they live and that focuses on authority and alienation, in whose context feelings of fear and paranoia are embedded. Paintings and a number of graphic works and prints interact with sculptures, lightboxes and neon writing, as well as spacious installations. In addition to these works from the artist’s most recent work phase, Einarsson is producing a new billboard installation specifically for the Kassel show. The large number of works in the installation is expressly conceived as a unit, so that the focus is not on the individual works but on the interplay between them. Therefore the exhibition can also be viewed as a collage whose fragments overlay and supplement one another, creating new layers of connections. Power Has a Fragrance does not deal with an explicit social system, but rather makes use of diverse events and phenomena that have attained global import and impact. Thus, Einarsson engages with the USA and Japan – the artist’s living environments – as well as the most recent battles on the streets of Bangkok.

The exhibition travelled from the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art in Oslo (2010) to the Reykjavik Art Museum (2010) and the Bonniers Konsthall in Stockholm (2011), before opening at the Kunsthalle Fridericianum on June 24, 2011. The show is redesigned at each venue.

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue.

Gardar Eide Einarsson

Gardar Eide Einarsson was born in 1976 in Oslo. In the year 2000 he completed his exams at the National Academy of Fine Art, Bergen. Furthermore he studied at Städelschule in Frankfurt/Main and finished the Studio Program at the Whitney Museum of American Art as well as the Architecture and Urban Studies Program of the Cooper Union School of Architecture in New York. Einarsson lives and works in Tokyo and New York.

Among his most recent solo exhibitions are Power Has a Fragrance at Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm, (2011), at the Reykjavik Art Museum, Reykjavik, and at the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Oslo, (both in 2010);  Focus: Gardar Eide Einarsson at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas (2009); South of Heaven at the Centre d'Art Contemporain, Geneva, (2008) and at Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt/Main, (2007); Ship of Fools at the Swiss Institute, New York, (2005), and Rank Xerox (together with Matias Faldbakken) at the Bergen Kunsthall, Bergen, (2004).

Einarsson participated in a variety of international group exhibitions such as the 17th Biennale of Sydney, (2010); Chasing Napoleon, at Palais de Tokyo, Paris, and The World is Yours at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, (both in 2009); That was then…This is now at P.S.1, New York, and the Whitney Biennial, New York, (both in 2008); Every Revolution is a Roll of the Dice at the Ballroom Marfa, Texas, and Painting, Space, and Society at Göteborgs Konsthall (both in 2007); In The Poem About Love... at Artists Space, New York; Defamation of Character at P.S.1., New York, and Street. Behind the Cliché at Witte De With, Rotterdam, (all in 2006); and in 2005 in Populism at Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt/Main, Contemporary Art Centre, Vilnius, Nordic Institute for Contemporary Art, Helsinki, and at the National Museum of Art, Oslo, as well as at the 9th International Istanbul Biennial.