Kristian Touborg, Robin Kang, Ana Milenkovic, Julie Stavad
Traditional methods of weaving, painting and sculpture transport us back to a nostalgic artistic period, whilst the contemporary context of the work simultaneously grounds us in the present and flings us forward to what might be. Caught between these varying contexts, ‘Intertwined Histories’ the latest group show at Kristin Hjellegjerde London presents an artistic disruption of linear time. While different in approach, the works of Kristian Touborg, Robin Kang, Julie Stavad and Ana Milenkovic similarly examine the significance and dissolution of conventional boundaries, inviting the viewer to consider potential abstract forms of existence.
Kristian Touborg’s practise involves the merging of physical and digital contexts. By combining the classic medium of oil painting with digital tools and synthetic materials, Touborg seeks to investigate the field between figuration and abstraction. The artist rejects and reconstructs the traditional canvas structure by using his iPhone photographs as source material which is digitally rendered, printed onto fabrics, and then combined with various industrially treated materials to create a textural collage.‘My paintings allude to some kind of narrative, but only reveal glimpses that fade and merge into dreamlike scenes on the border between coherent and fleetingly elusive,’ said the artist. Standing before the work, we are confronted with a sense of instability and fracture and yet, what Touborg presents us with is an alternative to our conventional understanding of completion or a ‘whole’.
In a similar way, Robin Kang’s approach explores the connections between computer technology and the ancient history of weaving. Her process begins with photographing computer hardware as image inspiration. These images are then turned into graphics through digital and hand-drawn editing, and finally transformed into black and white pixels for her Jacquard loom operating software. The process of weaving involves inserting the yarns by hand, while the loom translates the pixels into a physical pattern. The works themselves invoke mythic motifs and tribal symbolism, whilst the contrast of vibrant colours invites a psychedelic and meditative mood. As the eye traces the lines of thread in search of embedded meaning, Kang invites us to contemplate on contemporary symbolism and visual language.
Ana Milenkovic’s works also possess an air of mystery in both subject matter and mood. Favouring dark colour tones and a mixed media approach, the artist creates atmospheric, textural scenes that borrow from the tradition of storytelling. Milenkovic uses motifs and a strong sense of place to provoke the viewer’s imagination to create their own narratives based on their subjective experiences. For example, Johann depicts the profiles of two mythic figures facing one another as if in deep conversation, or we might regard these faces as two halves of one individual. ‘I like the idea of all our developmental stages being present in us at all times – us as young and old, good and evil, defeated and victorious alike,’ commented the artist.
Also sharing the gallery space, are threeof Julie Stavad’s rusting steel sculptures. The works play with scale in relation to the human body, and offer a tension between elegance and potential danger. One sharp pointed pin leans against a wall whilst another of the same shape lies on the floor, presenting alternative perspectives on the same object. Whilst the sculpture against the wall draws our eye to the sleek dimensions of the work, the sculpture on the floor possesses an unnerving sense of mobility, and the focus is switched to the sharp end as it juts out into space. This is what the artist playfully terms ‘the cryptic double nature of objects’ in which meaning is manipulated by both placement of the work and its given context.
Through their varying practises, interconnected by the gallery space and abstract narrative threads, each of these four artists invites the viewer to absorb a multitude of motifs, atmospheres, moods and textures so as to provoke an interrogation and reimagining of the world in which we live.