Mathias Malling Mortensen: I Look in - I look out

Aug 14 - Sep 11, 2020
Installation Views
Press release

As you move through the city on foot, you notice its details. Maybe it's an early morning where few have yet ventured out and the city windows throw the first morning sun onto the wall on the opposite side of the road. Or it is at dusk, when the light of the windows draws the gaze into the small living rooms along the road you walk. Other times, the windows stare back at you with empty eyes, and you only see your own face reflected in the glass sections of the pane.


In Jeg ser ind – Jeg kigger ud, Mathias Malling Mortensen works with space and texture in an otherwise surface-oriented imagery that connects to the concrete painting tradition. The works consist of three layers of canvas, sometimes strung in one plane above each other, but often with a few centimeters of air between each layer. In the outer two layers, Malling Mortensen cuts abstract shapes allowing spatial compositions to emerge inside the image. Through sections in the surface, we look into a space where the shadows of the surfaces both block the view and create new shapes and depths. And where the inner layer can be a completely tight grid, as if it were the placement of windows in a facade, the outer layers can be looser and more hand-carved – like the reflections, shadows and paint that soften architectural facades and make them live.


Malling Mortensen collects shapes. Equipped with sketch pad and camera, he collects figures, slices and compositions in the city spaces, which he brings into the studio and makes into his own. He looks in through a window, where a section of a room mixes with his own mirror image and dissolves into light and shadows. Or he looks out of his window and sees the light reflected on the wall opposite.


From his archive of forms, Malling Mortensen creates rhythmic compositions that dance in and out of the works' secret layers and cavities. The same shapes often recur from work to work, but get different expressions, depending on how much air there is between the canvases or what colors they are added.


In some works, one or more layers are painted in intense, saturated colors that add additional depth and texture to the spaces that arise between the surfaces. The colors he himself mixes of pigments that have a history; the first ultramarine he created from pigments he found in an old barn. Thus, the works balance between what is found and what is created. Collected shapes and found pigments are combined into design language and color tones that make up a world in itself.


Through Malling Mortensen's abstract works, we look at a world of colors, shapes and constructions, and we look in through layers of sections, shadows and surfaces. From the window-shaped canvases we look out towards the world – and into ourselves.