Sune Christiansen: SOLO
Epitomising the strong commitments to accessibility, directness and simplicity that underpin much of his artistic work, SOLO marks the first solo gallery exhibition of paintings by Sune Christiansen.
Sune Christiansen (b. 1976) is a self-taught artist living and working in Copenhagen. has slowly built up a studio practice over the past three years; at first painting only by-night following the birth of his second child, the rapid growth of the online audience for his works encouraged him to step away from his previous career as a graphic designer and to focus on painting in the studio full-time. In the period since, Christiansen has developed a signature approach to figurative abstraction that is as ambiguous and suggestive as it is playful and inviting.
Christiansen draws upon his extensive experience working with digital drawing tools to hone the palettes and compositions of new works, preferring to begin each painting through a process of iPad-based sketching and refinement. Once an arrangement of forms has been loosely identified, Christiansen begins responding to these preliminary drawings on the surface of the canvas, focusing much more on materiality and visual sensation than any attempt to faithfully reproduce the original sketch. Embracing the accidental, Christiansen works to create paintings that are both visually arresting, but also ultimately unpretentious in their basic ambition to achieve a form of expression that contains a certain undeniable truthfulness.
Ideas of the figure often assume central importance in Christiansen’s works. Whilst the artist maintains that he wants to avoid any clear explanation of how he intends for his figures to be read, the body language of Christiansen’s characters often evokes such broad themes as hierarchical power dynamics, hieroglyphs and other pictorial language structures, religious devotional practices and the symbolism of intimacy and sexuality.
Working mainly with oil stick, pastel, acrylics and industrial enamel paints, the artist deftly modulates texture, density and speed as he plots figures and objects in a manner that shows a clear dialogue between his own work and the likes of Kathrine Bradford, Eddie Martinez, Tal R and Sebastian Helling.
Whilst the execution of Christiansen’s work is so natural as to feel unmeditated, the reality is that the artist’s images are carefully composed and grounded in a strong interest in pictorial traditions and art history. On the other hand, Christiansen makes no pretence towards over-sophistication and favours a brightly vibrant and instantly recognisable palette of primary reds, golden yellows and emotionally-charged blues, as if to emphasise this point.
Enjoyment and an encouragement towards participation are at the heart of Christiansen’s practice along with a fundamental gratitude for life and the serendipity that brings any artist and viewer together through the medium of painting. Christiansen is interested to lure the viewer’s eyes into his paintings, but also insists upon allowing them to form their own interpretations of his works once they are present.
Whilst the paintings in this exhibition at Bricks Gallery all emerge from Christiansen’s own individual subjectivity, they are intended to tell stories and suggest ideas that will be legible to everyone, regardless of their cultural background or life-experience. In that respect whilst SOLOmarks the first time that Christiansen’s works stand together on their own in an exhibition format, it is also the first time that he is inviting the world into his practice, to engage with the aesthetic he has crafted and to relate to his imagery and narratives in any way that they see fit.