BGE Contemporary Art is proud to present our first solo exhibition by Eirik Sæther. The exhibition «GREETINGS FROM» opens 24. August and will be on display until 21. September 2022.
Eirik Sæther often works in the mediums of painting, sculpture and video. He has also done relational works that include his audience as active participants. The common denominator in Sæthers oeuvre is defined by a tension between the constructed dichotomies of high– and low culture, and the facade versus the inside. As such, he challenges how these dichotomies are replicated as structures within the art world.
Sæther plays the male lead as the selfish artist Thomas in the film Sick of Myself (2022). The movie premiered at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year. The paintings and sculptures in the exhibition «GREETINGS FROM» are the artist's processing of his experiences from Cannes.
A painting depicting the inviting water from the Cannes riviera lends the exhibition its title, «GREETINGS FROM». Sæther is referencing a postcard. The water is charmingly illuminated by the reflection of the city lights. Postcards famously show us only an excerpt of the place it greets us from – a small, perhaps superficial, piece of a larger story. This painting gives the spectator a clue towards Sæthers ambivalent experiences from Cannes; impressions of glamorous illusions. They are inviting, but like the water that reflects them, the surface is easily broken.
Symbols of power and prosperity are repeating elements in this exhibition. From luxury boats to trophies: The Cannes Film Festival is not shy to flash its wealth. However, upon seeing Sæthers sculpture of a yacht in the artwork «Below Deck», we note that the boat is capsized and scratched. This tagged down hull is far removed from any notions of wealth. What previously was a glamorous boat is ruined and capsized, its pedestal reduced to a cheap rug. What used to stay beneath the surface is exposed, and the illusion is broken.
In his paintings, Eirik Sæther works in the intersection between abstraction and tangible motifs. Most of the painted backgrounds have their starting point in a selection of postcards from Cannes. These are reworked and combined with figures that resemble trophies. As we know, a trophy is awarded to someone who distinguishes themselves, but Sæthers trophies carry an ambiguity. The golden palm is exchanged for the plastic figurines that children receive at the dentist, homemade christmas decorations and wrecked public sculptures. Thus, Sæther questions the value we put in these objects, and whether it is the objects that add value to a phenomenon or the other way around. The words on the paintings give a bitter aftertaste, what is rewarded are values we do not usually celebrate out in the open. But, maybe it is precisely these values that lie beneath the surface of all the glam and splendor.
Eirik Sæther (b. 1983, Halden, Norway) lives and works in Oslo. Educated at the National Art Academy in Oslo. Exhibited and participated in project such as «The Influencer in my Rear Window», Galleri Brandstrup (2021), «Father’s Figure», DNB Sparebankstiftelsens Art Grant, Oslo Kunstforening, Oslo 2018, «CHINA, Chart Emerging», curated by Helga Christoffersen, CHART, København (2017). Sæther is one of the founders of Haus der Kunst in Munich. He has also worked with the artist collective Institute for Degenerated Art from 2008-2015.