Installation view

Johan Thurfjell »Dead Calm«

Berlin, October 18, 2008 - November 21, 2008

Galerie Nordenhake is pleased to present the first solo show with new works by Swedish artist Johan Thurfjell in Germany. The exhibition's title, 'Dead Calm' comes from a shipping term describing a weather condition indicating a storm pulling up ahead and suggests a foreboding and an unknown yet imminent threat.

Thurfjell's works are often characterised by an interaction between visual form and subtextual narrative. Thurfjell uses his own personal experiences as an aesthetic tool in many of his works, which are often constructed as exquisitely crafted sculptural models.

The work 'Goodnight Mom, Goodnight Dad' consists of four apparently identical wooden models of his parent's summerhouse. A closer inspection reveals that the houses are gradually shaded darker, indicating a chronology. Instead of using external lights to depict the transition of a sunny, late afternoon, through dawn and on to midnight, shadows and tone are painted onto the models. The oncoming evening indicated by the shadows also suggests a greater passing of time - a generational twilight. The viewer is invited to investigate a psychological landscape through which he bridges the gap between the personal and the universal.

'Dead Calm' is also the title of a series of 21 watercolours depicting cargo- and cruise ships from the 1940's to the present time. These various ships of different type and origin have in common that they eventually foundered in fires, storms and groundings. Using the original marketing photographs as a reference point Thurfjell counterpoints the heroic and idealised depictions of these ship's maiden voyages with the viewer's knowledge of their fates.

In the second room of the gallery, secluded from the other works, the viewer encounters 'Bright Eyes', a sculpture of a life-size hare that is starring into a glaring spotlight. Despite it's calm and alert stance it gives the impression of being completely paralyzed by what it sees. Like the rabbit with prophetic abilities in Richard Adams novel "Watership Down" it has its eyes open to all inevitabilities to come.

Installation view

Dead Calm, 2008, series of watercolours, detail, installation view

Dead Calm, 2008, series of watercolours, detail, installation view

Dead Calm (Emma Bakke), 2008, watercolour on paper, 75.5 x 57.5 cm

Dead Calm (M/S Estonia), 2008, watercolour on paper, 29 x 19 cm

Goodnight mom, goodnight dad, 2008, MDF, wood, acrylic paint, 4 houses, each 42 x 26 x 20 cm, piedestal 70 x 300 x 55 cm, Edition of 3 + 1 AP

Brigth Eyes, 2008, jesmonite, bee Wachs, wood, spotlight, dimensions variable