Rasmus Bjørn (DK) “Paradise Valley”
MOGADISHNI CPH is proud to present ’Paradise Valley’, an exhibition of new works by the Danish artist Rasmus Bjørn (b. 1973). In ’Paradise Valley’ Rasmus Bjørn for the first time presents himself both as painter and as storyteller. ’Paradise Valley’ is a story of a fictitious place, where the story is dominated by loose ends and empty spaces, and where the traces of what has just happened and what might happen creates an undertone of disturbance and uncertainty in our imagination. Rasmus Bjørn draws upon storytelling elements from fiction and creates tension through a subtle unease and a fragmented visual structure that makes it hard for the spectator to create continuity in the story. Smaller and apparently meaningless elements like owls, pearl necklaces and cell phones are presented together with empty landscapes, deserted parks and lonely street lights. Do hidden connections between the seemingly different objects exist? What is the relation between the bag and the burning candle? What is the role of the rubbed out lipstick? Where do the keys fit? These isolated elements build a narrative from the traces of left actions and lost memories which are embodied in the work. In this story a creeping uncanniness is created through references to the visual language of filmmakers like Hitchcock and David Lynch, where you sense that madness is lurking right beneath the surface of suburban normality and behind the facades of the otherwise neatly looking houses. Bjørn explores the levels of the painterly both through craft and storytelling, where by the narrative limits of painting are challenged, and a possibility of an expanded story and multiple storylines are presented. In this way, the spectator feels that he is co-creator of a yet unfinished story.
Aaron Johnson (US) “Where the Buffalo Roams”
MOGADISHNI CPH also proudly presents “Where the Buffalo Roam”, an exhibition of new paintings and drawings by American artist Aaron Johnson (b. 1975). When first encountering Aaron Johnson’s works, the viewer is subjected to a psychedelic and brightly coloured sensuous bombardment presenting grotesque characters and tales about the absurd and repressed aspects of national identity and contemporary society. The works evoke a confounded iconography, where the symbols of popular culture present its purposelessness and superficiality. Johnson subverts the dark psychological content of his works by shadowing it under glitzy colours and seductive surfaces, thereby tapping into the dynamic of the spectacle which operates in contemporary culture. The show’s title, “Where the Buffalo Roam”, is a line pulled from the American folk song “Home on the Range” which served as an unofficial anthem of the settlers as they forged forward to tame the Wild West. Underneath the seemingly idyllic setting of the wide open plains of the American western frontier, lies the reference to a murkier reality of what gets repressed in the process of creating a national mythology. By playing with the national narrative in this way, the works in the exhibition provide a delirious examination of what lurks beneath the surface of the American dream. Characteristic for Aaron Johnson’s work is a painting method which turns the conventions of painting inside-out. He paints on stretched plastic and then applies stretched netting to the painted image, allowing the paint to congeal to the net through an application of polymer. Afterwards the plastic is peeled away and the painting is complete, now transferred to the hardened polymer and netting. This method in painting creates a very tactile surface and a possibility of collage elements to be embedded in the paintings texture. Aaron Johnson lives and works in Brooklyn, New York, and holds an MFA from Hunter College. His work is in the collection of the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art and in the permanent drawings collection of MoMA, New York.