Solo Exhibition at Alta Art Space, Malmö, Sweden
Fredrik Åkum. Spreads
Text 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 criticism2 to 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.
Mattia Lullini is an independent curator and co-founder of Nevven, a hybrid contemporary art venture integrating an art gallery and a public art project, located in Göteborg since 2015.