Nik Christensen – ‘Light in the Fog’

Installation views:


Light in the Fog at La Vanguardia newspaper, 17 April

Interview at Exhibart with Gabriel Rolt by Gabriel Virgilio Luciani

(Curated by Gabriel Rolt)

06 April – 21 May 2022

Opening reception: 06 April, 18 – 21 hrs

The Curators Room  –  La Oficina Barcelona
Carrer de Trafalgar 45, 08010 BarcelonaDear friends,

We are immensely proud to announce Light in the Fog by Nik Christensen, the inaugural exhibition of our new permanent Barcelona exhibition space: The Curators Room – La Oficina Barcelona. Opening on Wednesday 6 April from 18 to 21 hrs at Carrer de
Trafalgar 45.

Looking forward to see you at the opening !
Kindest, Gabriel

Nik Christensen , Field Notes on a Whetstone, Acrylics and Sumi ink on Duck canvas, 200 x 155 cm, 2021

It’s the big finale of an epic Samurai saga and the main protagonist is reappearing from the thick fog which is shrouding an obscured landscape. The quietness is interrupted with suggestive koto sounds and the almost perceptible rhythm of the fearless warrior’s panting. As if the whole universe had stopped to recoup, the only movements are the synchronized dance of the branches and the weaving of his kimono. The tensed stillness is unflinchingly building up to the climax with an unnerving countdown of the piercing light flashing from the edge of his razor-sharp katana…
This, in a nutshell, is the atmosphere permeating Nik Christensen’s (Bromley, 1973) new body of work comprising Light in the Fog, an exhibition that will inaugurate the new chapter for Amsterdam’s platform The Curators Room – La Oficina Barcelona. The 10 monochromatic paintings included in the presentation were produced in a period of a year and a half, and are marking a big switch to canvas after years of drawing with inks on paper. Approaching the “new” medium with the same interest and methodology, the Amsterdam-based artist is exclusively using black acrylic and inks to construct exciting and highly dynamic visuals. Confidently relying on the familiarity with tools, materials, and the dynamics of the process, adding paint and going darker emerges as the only way to rectify. Such a one-way route turns the untouched white surface into the artist’s entry point to the work as well as a getaway out of it. Emphasizing the universal symbolics of the light and making it that much more precious and fundamental, the technique is underlining the tension that can at any point tip over.
Fascinated by the power of a few bold gestures on a picture plane, often employed by the traditional Japanese landscape painters or calligraphers, Christensen’s process is founded on the balance between having control and having no control at all. In that regard he is using specific materials and preparation methods that require him to work with quick and intuitive mark-making, overtaking the paint or ink’s disobedient behavior along the way. Building his imagery with small, impulsive outbursts instead of having lengthy, tedious routines, he sets off on a never-ending quest of exploring the new, unbeaten paths. Resonating with the unforeseen ways the elements are communicating or the materials are interacting, and his emotional states or external influences, the work is unquestionably “in the now”, a coded document of the given moment or a period. By consenting to the image’s development beyond his intention, there is a great amount of fearlessness in the mark-making and the looseness in the brush, scale, boldness, or any given element that couldn’t be calculated or preplanned. In the end, the limitations of such an approach don’t allow much room for mistakes or correction so the intuitiveness and immediacy, as well as confidence and determination, becomes crucial to the work. Disregarding the fear of “messing things up”, the work carries the scars of the process as its distinctive features, accepting it in its entirety.

Nik Christensen, Light in the Fog, Acrylics and Sumi ink on Duck canvas, 230 x 180 cm, 2021

With Light in the Fog, Christensen is directing his own ensemble of fantastical theater performers as deconstructed figure-based abstractions reminiscent of dignitary official portraits, inspired by Kurosawa’s movies, Ukiyo-e prints, as well as traditional Japanese theatre, Kabuki, or Butoh dance. Treating the sitters as collections of features from which he is sculpting new models on a flat surface, they are used as an amalgamation of props he is continuously breaking apart and putting back together. The altered forms are then placed closer to the viewer and in full-frontal, pushing the details of the fabric patterns, the stance, and the fiery shapes to a more prominent position against the vague surroundings. Their theatrical, static postures are suggesting movement that preceded or is following, placing them in an “in-between” moment and accentuating the underlying dynamics. “To me, better than applause is the middle finger,” Christensen states as he approaches the canvas with a “hit and run” attitude, using the ambiguity of the visuals to reveal his commitment and confidence. Simply observing the additions or damages of his process and responding to them by finding ways to turn them into part of the image, he is walking a tightrope stretched between the limited, almost rudimentary tools and an exclusive palette. And in the moment of perfect stillness, when all the elements settle down together, we’re left with a harmonious, highly evocative picture that is ready to either burst into a fierce action or slowly fade into the backdrop.
-Saša Bogojev

Creative platform The Curators Room is a living, breathing ecosystem that is continuously developing and molding with each exhibition, each performance, each space, both online and offline. Committed to encouraging conversations, challenging and questioning the boundaries of art, and exploring the visions of the art world-to-come, it is a constantly evolving community with many different, intergenerational, and cross-disciplinary voices. Voices of artists, curators, thinkers, art lovers, and collectors that act and grow together.

On the 6th of April, Nik Christensen: Light in the Fog will inaugurate The Curators Room – La Oficina Barcelona, a permanent exhibition space for The Curators Room at Carrer de Trafalgar
45 in Barcelona.

Nik Christensen, I Didn’t Think to Leave a Letter, Acrylics and Sumi ink on canvas, 80 x 60 cm, 2022