I’m a fan of Gardar Eide Einarsson’s work, so when I unfortunately missed the opening of the Norwegian artists new show at Team Gallery last week I was pretty dissapointed. I made it down to Team yesterday to ensure I didn’t have to wait any longer, and as expected was impressed by the raw graphic styles of the artist’s show entitled ‘Another Modern Moment Completed’.

About the show: Reproduction as theft, and authorship as failed claim are the central conceits in this exhibition by Gardar Eide Einarsson. His concurrent fascinations with criminality and appropriation come together in an installation that appears to mark the jettisoning of his overt approach to political subject matter in favor of a formalist’s engagement with the legacy of modernism. Using the history of abstraction and pop as a readymade, Einarsson here distills a poetics of disruption, shifting between drippy hard edge abstraction, graphic renderings from mainstream sources, and the occasional deployment of the ben-day dot.

In preparation for this exhibition, Einarsson selected a number of images from the public domain that were of cursory interest to him: a book cover, the design on a napkin, a chain link fence, a section of the confederate flag, a comic book panel. He then set about transforming each of these pictures into an artwork. The stolen image became the property of the artist through gesture, labor, rendering. This project, however, has a secondary layer of appropriation for, after making each painting, Einarsson then immediately created another using the same image with a slight modification made through re-cropping or resizing. The “genuine” as embodied in the first painting is denied or, at the very least, called into question by the second. The drips, for example, become pastiche.

Einarsson’s paintings reflect iconic movements from the history of modernism, recalling the geometric vocabularies of artists such as Kasimir Malevich and Frank Stella, the pop-graphic derivations of Roy Lichtenstein, and the mannered nihilism of Steven Parrino. In Einarsson’s paintings the authoritative stance once required of hard-edged abstraction is usurped by subtle distortions of form and painterly accidents. His project willfully undermines the authority of these canonical movements, eschewing the purity of modernist abstraction in favor of a crafty rebelliousness. Einarsson’s interest in the historical lineage of political dissent is cunningly subsumed within the formal codes of his paintings. Through a rational use of post-modern quotations, they skillfully suggest (perhaps even mimic) an in-depth concern with a broader cultural field.

Extracted from Team Gallery, where the show runs through till May 22nd.

8 Responses

  1. pauljholden

    The “Public Domain” comic book panel is very likely to be a panel from 2000AD with artwork by Mike McMahon – very much NOT public domain. Arguably this should fall under fair use – but I would stress, certainly NOT public domain. -pj holden

  2. Gary Erskine

    Would Gardar Eide Einarsson be so open to his 'working process' if we comic book artists were to 'appropriate' his images back into the original source with little or no credit given to him? I imagine an artistic 'hissy fit' from his lawyer instead. Theft is theft. Check your sources next time or give Rebelllion's copyright department a call. Or Mike himself? Your main paragraph ('About the show..') is wholly offensive in this respect. No amount of pseudo-intellectual art theory and clever contexualising of the creative process in your article is going to disguise the fact that Gardar was arrogant (or possibly ignorant) enough to believe he could just use the Mike McMahon image (like the other thief Lichenstein) for his own ends without proper acknowledgment. Very disappointing. This 'cut and paste' art mentality is depressingly commonplace now and would wish for Gardar's next show that he tries to paint a landscape or two instead.With reference to his other more abstract works, I believe I have now found the design elements I require for some miscellaneous backgrounds in my next story (as they are of 'cursory interest to me') Thanks! No credit (to Gardar) necessary. I will of course insure that 'the stolen (your word) image' will become the property of the artist through gesture, labor, rendering.It's okay because it's art. Innit?

  3. David Bishop

    “In preparation for this exhibition, Einarsson selected a number of images from the public domain that were of cursory interest to him: a book cover, the design on a napkin, a chain link fence, a section of the confederate flag, a comic book panel.”

    The comic book panel is a copyrighted image, and certainly not in the public domain. Where does appropriation stop and theft begin, I wonder?

  4. Len O'Grady

    Sorry, but just because an image has been published publicly, does not make it Public Domain. Neither can it be claimed that the artwork has passed into visual cliche, like a certain soup can (but perhaps that was the point- maybe no one would notice?). This is thievery dressed up in the Emperor's New Clothes of pseudo-intellectualism, and not particularly original thievery at that.

  5. Mike Gloady

    Very poor show on behalf of Gardar Eide Einarsson there.

    I’ll be sure to only sample elements of records I have “cursory” interest in (and yet enough to appropriate) as apparently it frees me from the obligation to credit the original artist. Super! Mr Erskine has it nailed I’m afraid, I’ll be sure to compose the cover to this, no doubt, world-beating hit from images I have (through gesture, labour and render) appropriated from Mr Einarsson’s work.

  6. Chris Gannon

    Paul, David,I believe “Fair Use” may actually apply here so long as this is for non-commercial use. If Gardar tries to charge people for exhibitions or sell this piece I believe the lawyerbots may need to get involved. Of course his claim that this image is in the public domain is clearly bogus.Of course with Gardar's “concurrent fascination with criminality and appropriation” and given a previous exhibition piece “In The Name of the Law” (http://www.sorrywereclosed.com/images/best/eg_i…) I do wonder if the artist knows full well that the image he's appropriated is not in the public domain and if he is trying to deliberately provoke legal action, thus making himself the art piece in a more subtle version of the idiot Edinburgh student who smashed a pole through a window and declared it art (http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2009/dec…)Chris

  7. Simon Coleby

    I would like to add my comment in support of the concerns raised by others in this discussion. Mike McMahon's work is most certainly not 'public domain' – it is copyrighted work, published by Rebellion. I do not believe that the 'fair use' laws apply here, as these are generally concerned with small, representative elements of a work ( literary or visual ) used for review purposes. Such is clearly not the case in this instance. Whether Mr. Einarsson has 'created' ( I use the term very loosely indeed! ) this image for monetary gain, or for any other kind of personal advancement – publicity, etc – it is clear that this is a simple act of plagiarism. I will not attempt to critique Mr. Einarsson's work, as presented here ( although it wouldn't take me very long to do so! ), but will say that an acknowlegment of his source is the very least that he should offer. Financial recompense may well also be appropriate, but that is for others to decide and pursue, if appropriate. Apologies if this message is just a little pragamtic, and not sufficiently pseudo-intellectual, art-babble for your liking. Perhaps that's why I prefer the commercial art world to the highbrow prattling of 'fine art'; we prefer just to work hard and rely on our own creativity and talent!Dress it up in whatever linguistic word-salad you like – this painting is just plagiarism; pure and simple.