StArt`98:Art on streets 6 – 18 januari 1998
Stockholm – Europas kulturhuvudstads år 1998
An impulse, an idea wants to be embodied. The step in-between the work itself, has to be erased if the work of art is to be convincing. The idea and its shaping have to be contemporary, with not a glimpse of the least little sigh or intervening pause. The penny, originally an idea, should have dropped in a credible form. This is what happens in Kent Karlsson`s art-works, as though there really were no boundary between the lightning bolt of the idea and the three-dimensional result. Even the materials Karlsson chooses can broaden and deepen the vision he sees before him. The first work by Kent Karlsson I ever saw was “Memory” in Umeå Skulpturpark. A free-standing shed clad on the inside with black plastic. In the dark there was a hot-plate lit from the side by a soft beam of light. Drops of water fell from the ceiling to sizzle and turn to steam in the encounter with the hot-plate. The liquid, like slow moments, brought down the pace in the room to a contemplative state of rest. Musical and immediate, restfulness was there that recurs in Karlsson´s other works. But he does not leave this lingering interval, this smooth rhythm, in peace – often he gets what is fragile to take on an acerbic form, in ambiguous materials. In what he does, there is a life-giving disarrangement, shifting gradations of mood. In this way he stops the works from becoming enclosed in the beautiful. Despite the wariness of the drop of water, surfaces of broken mirror and the fine-meshed, almost transparent kayak made of net called “Nymåne” (New Moon), Kent Karlsson´s three-dimensional poetry is steeped in flesh and blood. This is very apparent in “Blues”. A car´s bonnet becomes the canvas for a portrait in red, white and black, of a primeval animal, a dinosaur, while from the bonnet hangs a woman`s shoe, its heel guarded and uninterested. This is the blues. The stiletto heel produces a bellowing sound, a desire that is hardly dusted with rose-petals. There is no hint of self-pity in this bluesy portrait, rather a particular, edgy self-irony. Kent Karlsson manages to encompass incisive humor and a dense lyrical gaze in the same spot. This is also the case in the works Karlsson has prepared for the outdoor exhibition in Stockholm. Karlsson has selected three portraits for his advertising pillar at Strandvägen 7. Object faces, face-objects, the various ingredients coalesce, dissolving the boundaries between what is object and what is human. They turn into double-exposed states in which the smiling person weeps, a facial feature is simultaneously a trunk, a cranium a guitar. “Är det din tysta mun, som går genom kroppen” (Is that your silent mouth moving through your body?) it sings, as the impudent and the tender come together. It is beautiful without being hermetic or bland. Despite the flat surface, the three portraits are sculptural, dense with energy. The colors, bodies themselves, are not exclusively concerned with the shapes, preferring to jazz their way out of them, play with contours, refusing to get stuck. Kent Karlsson´s triptych in a wintry Stockholm sets up a chord which comprises both silence and rasping sound. He is fastidious in expression, not bothering with subordinate clauses and ornaments but going straight into the core. An amusing mixture of the impatient and the calm, just like a piece of music in which both straggling and bright notes climb around a grave bass-line. Another portrait by Karlsson – a death`s-head from which a red rose rises – is being shown at the same time, in Stockholm and across the country. An image that is both obvious and enigmatic. Concisely simple and gingerly poetic – made up of what is recognizable but also an edgy gleam of the not quite obvious, of something being tested over and over again.