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Text from Tear out pages/Tear of Jacqueline
Solo exhibition at Gallery Steinsland Berliner
Written by Ophelia Rolf

Fredrik Åkum is a skilled and experienced painter with an oeuvre displaying dedicated efforts to remove himself and his paintings from a place of comfortable comprehension and expected results. A yearning to be surprised by his own work, to truly experience a work of art as an independent observer has caused Åkum to develop a complex methodological system which assures a certain margin of error for an otherwise precise artist.

An appreciation of printing techniques and a fascination of the inherent conclusiveness of the replicated image is central to his art. Åkum will repeatedly copy his own work, an arduous and lengthy process which gradually takes him further away from the primary painting. He likens this process to the natural glitches and inaccuracies that occur when printing by hand, a sequence of intended copies will rarely turn out identical. His abstract compositions are created by awkwardly crouching on the floor, effectively hindering not only movement but also obstructing a clear view of the canvas. Paint is thinned out with various mediums, making it difficult to control and prone to spontaneous seeping and trickling. It is within these restrictive circumstances that Åkum can experience the suspense of not fully being able to foresee the end result.

The two-part title Tear out Pages/Tear of Jacqueline refers to integral makings of Fredrik Åkum’s perspective. Imagine two pages in a fanzine haphazardly bent or intentionally folded, creating an unexpected picture. This idea of serendipitous constellations acts as the basis for Åkum’s compositions.

Beckers Art Award 2020
Jury Statement written by Mårten Castenfors

Fredrik Åkum certainly has nerve when it comes to his colors and brushwork. Carefully laid cloth on the studio floor becomes a stage for the painted dance of acrylics over the surface of the cloth.

The impatient rhythms of color emerge almost manically with repetitions, variations, and gaps – an intricate interaction between big and small.

This is an uplifting painting on the border between the figurative and the abstract, between the random and the absolutely controlled, between the light and the darkness. This is a painting that demands obsession and passion – something so amazingly beautiful, marked by a complex perseverance.

Åkum undoubtedly captures us with his plant-based palette of colors, as well as with his fanzines and small art books – his parallel artistic track – which invite visitors to explore their own creativity. High or low, Åkum’s presence is undeniable.

Fredrik Åkum is awarded the 2020 Beckers Art Award for his ability to make us understand through his palette that there is so much more in the beauty of painting. Indeed, there is a completely new world of nuances.

Text from Spreads
Solo Exhibition, Alta Art Space
Written by Mattia Lullini

There1 is a fundamental connection between printed matter and Fredrik Åkum’s paintings. Not in the hierarchy that historically places catalogues and fanzines as ancillaries of exhibitions and original artworks, but on a diametrically opposite relation. With his practice, Åkum asks himself and the spectator to poetically reevaluate the established dynamics connecting the concepts of reproduction and documentation with uniqueness and authenticity. 

In his aesthetic and approach to painting, it is possible to find a nature which is profoundly historical and what I would define as anti-philological. Copy after copy— the original subjects, or what we should expect as the content depicted onto the canvases, are lost in the tradition of prints, paintings and reproductions that was instrumental to the ultimately exhibited results. It is a methodical process that uses printers and copying as instruments to allow the painted subjects to take always new forms in the seemingly abstract surfaces. The viewer —although— is not asked to search for the initial subject matter or to apply a picture criticism2to inspect these artworks. She is instead presented with the countless ways, methodical or unplanned, in which these images were distorted and idiosyncratically detached from their primeval nature —the painted imprecision which slightly detaches the copy from its matrix, a reproduced cropped section, which renders the initial image indiscernible, or the straight cut and juxtaposition determined by a spread pushed onto the flatbed scanner, inspiring new compositions. Fredrik Åkum’s paintings demand the viewer to appreciate the procedures, mistakes and meaningful variants that furthered them from their subjects while nearing them to the artist’s idea.

The new series that Fredrik Åkum presents in this exhibition, Spreads, consists in the depiction of two pages’ spans from a fanzine of reproductions of his own paintings, turned ninety degrees and painted un-chronologically in almost identical instalments. Albeit, it is not on this realisation that the viewer should focus her interest, nor on the original paintings which were depicted on those fanzine’s spreads, nor in the folded fabric depicted in those paintings, nor in the luxuriant vegetation printed on those textiles. The focus should be instead on the way in which all these elements disappeared from the paintings part of Spreads. These canvases do not depict pages, fabric or nature. They portray the microscopic modifications and massive interpolations that gave them new life, encapsulating their subjects in new images which need no history, explanation or philology.

1 This text is an extract from a longer text which is a work in progress at the moment in which this exhibition is opening. Dealing as well with Spreads, but also contextualising more thoroughly this new series and the way in which it connects with the general artistic practice of Fredrik Åkum— the text will be published later this year in concomitance with a broader survey of his work.

2 Imagined as a discipline analogue to textual criticism, having as its final goal the reconstruction of the original picture as close as possible to what it was before the reproductions and copies which altered its appearance to the point of being unrecognisable. This concept and field of study have been speculatively considered by Kurt Weitzmann as in K. Weitzmann Sailing with Byzantium from Europe to America. The Memoirs of an Art Historian (Munich, 1994), 143–51.