Artist Profile: Fredrik Vaerslev

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“Untitled,” spray paint on canvas, 2014. Photo courtesy of Andrew Kreps Gallery.

by Rachel Heidenry

His works could be from the 1950s, when abstract expressionism reigned supreme. They could be from the 1980s, when graffiti found its way onto the canvases of art world superstars. Or they could be from today – as they are – when merging and mingling come together to create something the world has not quite seen before.  

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“Untitled,” spary paint, primer, pigment and finishing oil on pine, Siberian larch frame, and steel support. 2013. Photo courtesy of Andrew Kreps Gallery.
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“Untitled (Canopy Painting),” acrylic primer and pigment on cotton canvas, 2013. Photo courtesy of Andrew Kreps Gallery.

Fredrik Vaerslev’s canvases are mesmerizing. Comprised of the basics – line, color and form, his works are intelligent and meaningful. Depending on the series he is working on, Vaerslev takes inspiration from nature and the environmental qualities of happenings or forces. Some works are left outside, others exposed to sun. No matter the intervention, the artist enables nature or mechanics to alter the surfaces of his works. Consequently, the canvases take on an architectural quality through the exploration of forms. Throughout, Vaerslev retains a remarkable eye for texture and space – these two themes perhaps the most important running through his oeuvre.

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Installation view “A Shore Thing,” Andrew Kreps Gallery, 2014. Photo courtesy of Andrew Kreps Gallery.

A new exhibition at the Andrew Kreps gallery in Chelsea, A Shore Thing, displays nine large-scale cotton canvases with various strokes of white spray paint. The pieces were created by a mechanized process of mounting a spray can atop a trolley and maneuvering the device back and forth to create distinctly straight lines. The simple works imbue the room with a feeling of lightness and equilibrium, despite the various directions and intensities of the paint’s application. While Vaerslev was inspired by the mechanism used to make line marks on football and soccer fields, the effect produced did not come across with such an athletic inspiration. Instead a diverse balance between rhythmic movement and tranquility is emitted.

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“Striped Canopies,” primer, spray paint and white spirit on canvas, 2013. Photo courtesy of Andrew Kreps Gallery.

While the artist’s influences cannot be denied – Franz Kline, Morris Lewis, Jackson Pollock – his works also jump between categorizations. High modernism mixes with graffiti mixes with minimalism mixes with conceptualism. The canvases are fresh, while still building on foundational art historical predecessors. They are timeless and yet undeniably now.

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“Untitled,” spray paint on frosted acrylic glass, elm wood support, bulb socket, light bulb, electronic cable, 2013. Photo courtesy of Andrew Kreps Gallery.

Fredrik Vaerslev lives and works in Norway. He is the founder and director of Landings Projects Space – an artist run project space for contemporary art situated in Vestfossen, Norway that was founded in 2008. For more information on his work visit his website: http://www.fredrikvaerslev.com/

A Shore Thing is on view at Andrew Kreps Gallery through October 25, 2014. 

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