Danish artist and virtuoso draftsman Asbjørn Skou has his first solo exhibition in the Netherlands in which he immerses the viewer in a kaleidoscopic visual dream narrative.
Becoming Numerous is the first major solo in the Netherlands of the Danish artist and virtuoso draughtsman Asbjørn Skou. His oeuvre mainly consists of drawings that explore philosophical, social and political ideas. For Drawing Centre Diepenheim, Skou created an installation of large scale drawings—on the wall, and on paper—executed in graphite pencil.
The drawings focus on a myriad of topics, from political figures drawn from different chapters of history, animals—from insects to wolves—references to art history throughout the centuries, religious personages, pagan gods, and newspaper photos of disasters and demonstrations. Themes that are familiar, images unearthed from our collective memory, recent history or current events. Manifested as drawings on paper, and on the walls of the Drawing Centre, these images become alienating and fictionalised. By playing with scale and form in the exhibition, Skou amplifies this effect. Take, for instance, a life-sized burning car, a factory hall, towering classical Greek sculptures that morph into dogs’ heads and collaged newspaper articles that are blown up to several square metres. Also clustered throughout the installation are smaller A3-format drawings reminiscent of pages from graphic novels or storyboards.
Al Plucked from their contexts and narrative structures, this deluge of contrasting subjects interacts and creates a baffling and fragmented visual network, in which one story flows into another, and narratives and narrative structures accumulate, clash with or complement each other. Becoming Numerous transforms the Drawing Centre into a complex ‘reading room’ where multi-interpretable narratives can be discovered. Unlike a film, book, or comic strip, the stories unfold here in a spatial environment, as drawn
landscapes to be navigated. These are narratives without a structure in the traditional sense—there is no protagonist, no linear sequence of events with a beginning and an end. These are stories that create a network, a map of fictions.
All of the drawings in Becoming Numerous unfailingly evoke an oppressive, catastrophic atmosphere. Skou skilfully reflects our zeitgeist; a state of crisis across multiple domains: ecological, political, financial. Crisis is a recurrent theme in Skou’s work. It is a concept to which everyone can relate. Crises occur at all levels and in all guises, in society as a whole, and in our personal lives. In his drawings, Skou uncovers unexpected analogies between these divergent inner and outer worlds in a state of crisis. His drawings connect archaic human figures with today’s automated industry, limestone formations with the human spine, cyanobacteria with car accidents and nerves with the structure of our urban landscape.
Skou positions ‘kairos’—the opportune moment to deliver change—in opposition to crisis. Crisis and kairos are two sides of the same coin: where there is a crisis there is also an opportunity for positive transformation. In Becoming Numerous, Skou questions the role of visual stories and narrative structures in a state of crisis, and the power invested in them. How do narrative media impact the way we think about society? How, who, or what, shape the narratives about our past and future? In this exhibition, Skou shows how single images, placed in a different context and translated into drawings, can lead to a host of new interpretations and constellations. Becoming Numerous invites the viewer to step into this special drawn world and become an active part of this expanding kaleidoscopic web of visual information, so that new histories and new perspectives of the future may emerge.
Asbjørn Skou (1984) lives and works in Copenhagen, Denmark. His practice encompasses drawings, installations, objects and text. In his work he examines the relations between the human and the non-human and how these can lead to forms of crisis and criticism. He received his MFA from the art academy in Bremen, Germany. His work has been exhibited at Konsthal C. Stockholm (Sweden), Kunsthal NORD (Denmark), Museum of Cycladic Art (Greece), Vejle Art Museum (Denmark), Ileana Tounta Contemporary Art Center (Greece) and Munch Gallery (USA).
Rik Klein Gotink
Met dank aan
Danish Art Foundation
Gemeente Hof van Twente