“It is one of the fundamental laws of life that everything is continually transformed into its opposite.”

“Urgent” is the exhibition hosted in one of Malmo´s major exhibition spaces, with a display of about twenty works by the Swedish artist Ulf Rollof, and curated by Iris Muller. The Moderna Museet of Malmo, which hosts the exhibition from 22.6 to 11.2 of the current year, is invaded by a multitude of works with different dimensions, materials and shapes. As in the whole nordic artist´s career, his gaze and his practice range from painting to installation, from photography to matter. The works shown here come from different moments of the artist´s career, in fact they are gathered here thanks to the collaboration of the Moderna Museet, private collections, and the contribution of the artist himself.

“Thermal Sun”, Ulf Rollof, 1989 Installation view: “Urgent”, Moderna Museet of Malmo, 2018, Photo by Alessia Venosa

Although the starting point is almost always a very personal research, and adhering to one´s own interests and one´s gaze, Rollof does not always belong to himself and does not put himself at the center of his work. On the contrary, he starts from his own experience, and then extends it to the universal, to the collective. He, treating the idea of ​​the opposite often in relation to the artificial and the natural, treats contemporaneously and close to us.

Entering the exhibition space we are welcomed, and perhaps overwhelmed, by the multitude and the size of the exhibited works. Although the exhibition space is of considerable size, the artistic productions of Rollof are really numerous. To welcome us we find “Refiegerative Coat”, a work connected to “Thermal Sun” and useful to understand how the Swedish artist works with the concept of duality and opposites. In this case, in fact, he creates two different installations, both dominated by the “mechanical” element. The first consists of a wearable jacket, wrapped in an insulation system, the latter in a sort of artificial sun that generates heat. Through the clash between artificial and natural, the artist investigates two opposing elements like heat and frost, confronting himselfus with the natural context of cause and effect, origin and reception. He decides to play, act and intervene on the borders of the forces at stake, so as to bring out the roles and the importance of the opposites.

“Refiegerative Coat”, Ulf Rollof, 1989 Installation view: “Urgent”, Moderna Museet of Malmo, 2018, Photo by Alessia Venosa

Also in the case of “Angel Trap”, Rollof confronts again with the idea of ​​border, even more in detail with reference to the organic and artificials often happens in his practice, he likes to compare reality, almost as if he were a spectator intrigued by the clash between them. Starting from man and contemporaneity, he compares what is faith in all that is “invisible” and spiritual, with what is instead faith in technology and progress. Perhaps ironically, but certainly accurate, he seems to deceive the viewer, as well as the angel, through the aesthetics of the presented artistic object. Rollof´s interest in the artificial-technological element also emerges in the articulated “Lifeboat”, a work composed of three installations, two of which are exhibited in “Urgent”. What we see first is a large installation that seems to breathe slowly and mechanically, and that is simultaneously connected to a second similar machine, both with a canoe shape. Alongside these two large buildings we see a wall full of small objects that, like the larger ones, suggest with their own shape that of a canoe or lifeboat. In this sense, in fact, fits the idea of ​​survival and rescue, both elements present in the artist´s work and connected to the original exhibition site where the work was originally exhibited.

“Lifeboat”, Ulf Rollof, 1990 Installation view: “Urgent”, Moderna Museet of Malmo, 2018, Photo by Gregorio Vignola

One of the last works, and perhaps one of the most spectacular in the exhibition, is “Table II”. It consists in the reproduction of an operating room, where a large and shiny operating table is illuminated by an intense light coming from a lamp and the wall behind it. The table is not a classic table at all, but it is “modified” as if a metallic “chest” had been inserted inside it. In a totally clean, minimal and almost austere context, one comes forward between the objects and the materials exhibited, the feeling of danger and impotence; from the belt, to the metal pipes, everything seems to bring back to a precarious context. Again, however, we can see a clash of systems and reality once again, what are the sensations perceivable by a human body like ours, collide with the artificial and minimal reality created by the artist.

“Table II”, Ulf Rollof, 2007 Installation view: “Urgent”, Moderna Museet of Malmo, 2018, Photo by Alessia Venosa

Through a continuous clash and encounter of realities, be they similar or opposite, we have the opportunity to enter into the curious and varied research for an artist with a thriving and dynamic artistic production. Through a considerable amount of exhibited works, we again have the opportunity to touch non-trivial issues, and above all very contemporary ones, and that perhaps we touch daily.


Gregorio / Kunstportal


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