BGE Contemporary Art proudly presents a unique meeting between sculptor Elena Engelsen and photographer Per Maning for the exhibition Fragile Lives. Despite their different artistic expressions, the artists share a fascination for wildlife and nature. In this exhibition, one can follow a line from Maning’s previous exhibition Still Life and his work with photographing objects, but now with Engelsen’s steady artistic oeuvre at its core. He has photographed her sculptures as his subjects, while she has let the sculptures be inspired by his earlier photographs. The gallery will be open on Sundays (12 pm - 4 pm) during the current exhibition “Fragile Lives” with Elena Engelsen and Per Maning. Welcome!
Psychiatrist Finn Skårderud writes: “Two artists met. She works with sculpture. He with photography. In this artistic project Fragile Lives, he has also photographed her work. I have followed the development of this shared project for one whole year. I have been struck by the movements. They have sensed and danced towards each other through expressions and subjects. (…) It’s a series of independent works, which has become one with each other. Throughout the year the project has become more and more seamless. One plus one is three, where the third is a moving portrait of our fragile lives.”
Engelsen has worked with animals from both exotic habitats and animals we know from our surroundings. The sculptures are made from stone and bronze, and the animals are portrayed as they are in their natural environment. We can observe both their vulnerability and their strengths - a chameleon with its tale around a bamboo tree or a pelican resting with its head between its wings. In Fragile Lives she has been inspired by one of Maning’s earlier motifs, the sculpture Hundeskalle is blown up and cast in bronze.
Maning talks about how Engelsen brings life to the lifeless, and one can say the same about his own way of photographing. In the exhibition Fragile Lives, one can study the decaying process of ole rhubarb leaf’s in its vital colors, a cranium gets new life through the photograph and dead insects are studied and documented for their beautiful silhouettes.
The way Maning and Engelsen pursue to portray animals in their natural surrounding habitats; Maning wanted to portray Engelsen’s sculptures in her studio in the same manner. In the gallery space art is actually taken out of their original context, away from its creative process. In Maning’s photos, one can see the sculptures on the workbench, mixed together with other sculptures, side by side with the sculptor’s heavy tools.
Skårderud continues to write: “Nature is the given. Art generates encounters that do not take the given for granted but desires to create more. In my encounter with Fragile Lives I ask myself if it is possible for us to keep taking nature for granted. These two artists are inspired by the lives of animals, as living beings and as metaphors for the human. And trees and stones and insects. We are both similar and different from animals. By looking at animals looking at us, we can wash our eyes and see ourselves better”.