BLOOD OPTICS (solo show)
Museo Tamayo, Mexico City
2 May - 4 August 2019
Ida Ekblad’s (Oslo, 1980) artworks draw on limitless source materials: Old Master painting, the textile industry, manga culture, venetian glass, deviant art, typography, Wiener Verkstatte, meme-culture, Scandinavian arts and crafts, Norwegian cast iron traditions, style-evolutions in clothes, faux-graffiti, vinyl cover-design, magazine clippings, poster culture. In addition comes a range of art historical influences such as Odilon Redon, Paula Modersohn Becker, Marie Laurencin, Paul Thek, Harriet Backer, Florine Stettheimer and Helen Frankenthaler.
Ida Ekblad thinks with her eyes. In the middle of our hyper-retinal whirl of a culture, she tries to visually record and make sense of her surroundings. «Whatever sense I find,» she says, «is primarily an aesthetic sense. In painting, sculpture and via material twists and turns, I am striving to make a personal and decent pattern of what happens to come my way.»
In her latest work, Ida Ekblad has focused on studying historic archives which detail the recovery of ancient crockery from sunken ships in Norway, as well as crochet pieces which she has included in her pictorial and sculptural work.
For her exhibition at the Museo Tamayo, entitled Blood Optics, Ida Ekblad created a new series of large-format paintings in which she uses bright colors and a technique that she calls Puff Paint (inflated textile paint), that has become her trademark. For this she uses industrial heaters inside her studio to make the plastic-based paint react to the heat and inflate until it creates a relief or 3D texture.
Meanwhile, in her sculptural work, Ekblad brings forth a variety of spaces and atmospheres, using everyday items –sometimes even mundane objects such as shopping carts–, as a mold which she fills with fresh cement and then adds useless and discarded items during the drying process. The basis of these drift works is a universe of debris and metal skeletons, and a race against time and the entropic processes.
Many of the titles of her pieces derive from her own poems, which in turn become songs or hide inside her paintings, without ever directly appearing in her work.
For her Blood Optics exhibit, Ekblad has created a series of new pieces, such as the monumental sculpture entitled Tortoise with a Sail, situated in the Museum’s gardens, directly references skate culture by combining two basic elements of this practice: empty swimming pools and street curbs.
Museo Tamayo, Mexico City
FRA ÅRE TIL OVN (solo show)
Kunsthalle Zürich, Zurich
8 June - 18 August 2019
Ida Ekblad lives in Oslo. She is a painter, sculptor, publisher, music producer, curator, and designer. She also writes. Her sources of inspiration include folk art, fashion, garbage, Samuel Beckett, youth culture, the natural forces of the elements, Gena Rowlands, traditional crafts, and so on. Everyday life is central to her work—as an imposition, but also conveying grace; as a voracious monster and a source of happiness; as a disaster and a glimmer of hope—for in Ekblad's view, everything is full of promise, including art.
FRA ÅRE TIL OVN, the title of the exhibition, derives from the book Norsk Jernskulptur. Norske Minnesmerker published in 1944. From Vein to Furnace is a short description of how metal is extracted from ore and cast into sculptures. FRA ÅRE TIL OVN thus stands for transformation—the kind of which takes place billions of times a day. Transformation is located at the center of Ida Ekblad's art—as it is for all art, of course. Because ultimately, all an artist does is, through his or her thoughts and actions, to convert material, images, color, or politics into a new state or form. When this succeeds, it results in substantial added value, that is, knowledge, joy, or anger.
Transformation may seem like an expression of creativity, but it is, above all, hard work and also entails destruction. Ekblad struggles with the existing, wrestles with context, and rubs up against the resistance of material, history, and expectations. Transformation is both emancipatory and conditional, and this renders it as interesting as it is controversial. Because every act of transformation, however transgressive and queer, in turn leads to a consolidation; it is contingent on that moment when it establishes itself as a work of art, as an identity, or as a social order. All of this carries great excitement, and Ida Ekblad rehearses it joyously and at breakneck speed, over and over again.
The exhibition at Kunsthalle Zürich is divided into three chapters. It starts with a shop where one can buy merchandise, carpets, albums, and shirts. Here, visitors mutate into consumers, accomplices, or critics. Adjacent to the store is a sculpture hall, presenting the artist’s most recent works: iron and bronze casts. On the upper floor one finds oneself in a salon evocative of an haute-bourgeois underwater world on LSD. FRA ÅRE TIL OVN thus unfolds within a triangle of commercial store, public education center (Kunsthalle), and private villa. Accordingly, the exhibition plays with the art institution as a place where very different ideas and expectations come together, balance each other out, or contradict one another: as entertainment, education, and shopping experience—as well as (self-) critical reflection. It is these competing aspects that open up a space that creates impact and, ultimately, change.
Kunsthalle Zürich, Zurich