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Darkness and Light – Søren Nellemann

One painting “War vs. Wagyu” shows cut-out images, like snapshots, of the on-going war in Ukraine or any war: a beating up female boxer with a bloody nose; a female Barbie like soldier with a disfigured face wearing rubber boots emptying a bloody metal bucket with a large piece of meat “Wagyu steak” under her foot; a shooting airplane with a smiling pilot; Death (ready to harvest) riding a raging bull (with references to Basquiat artwork “Riding with Death” (1988) and Leonardo Da Vinci’s drawing “Two allegories of envy”); in the lower left corner is a flying superman (Nellemann himself trying to stop the war and save humanity) and above Matisse’s flying goat staring puzzled at the scene.

These snapshots of images are symbolic of how we all are inundated with mass media reporting on war and disasters fleeting pass our eyes, numbing us to the fate and tragedies. Nellemann invites us to look closer and put the pieces together, almost like a jigsaw puzzle, allowing each viewer to make up their own story and interpretation of Nellemann brutal and humorous visual imagery. Because all Nellemann’s work are made up multiple stories, ideas and narratives at times conflicting, other times questioning, it forces us each time to reflect on the presented. It provokes us but forces us to engage. 

Nellemann’s conceptual layered works emerged from his humanitarian work, the many travels and the places where he has contributed to improving poverty alleviation and education projects. Only later in his life did he decide to become a full-time artist and therefore went back to school; the Royal Academy in The Hague (2019). The same year he was selected by the SBK Foundation as ‘Best Art Graduate/Sprout Young Talent’ together with 30 other new artists. Nellemann ‘manipulates’ the artistic discourse of his works by adding every day and comic elements to his visual renditions to reveal their hidden aspects, the ‘other layer’. Instead, he tries to emphasize that our perception of the landscape is a combination of our senses and imagination that reflects on our own life and perspective. 

Søren Nellemann’s (tag $Ø) is a Danish multidisciplinary emerging artist currently based in New York where he is enrolled into the New York Academy of Arts prestigious 2 years Master of Fine Art program. His practice – installations, sculptures and paintings – is infused with the political, art historical references, horrors, and humour, exposing contemporary issues at times in a raw manner leading to strong emotions and reactions whether positive or negative – but at his core, everything is centred on humanity and hope.

The DARKNESS and LIGHT are the metaphorical references to humanity’s struggles, brutality, but also hope as presented in his paintings and sculptures. Several of his public sculptures can be found around Copenhagen, Denmark.

Nellemann’s layered works fit in perfectly with the mission of the What Art Can Do Foundation. We would like to welcome him for this solo exhibition DARKNESS AND LIGHT in October 2023.

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