In a worn-down Frederiksberg basement situated about a hundred meters from the lakes in Copenhagen, artist Kåre Frang holds up a wooden baby puzzle against the wall. The small puzzle is one of two puzzles which together creates the basis for the artistic inspiration for the exhibition Landscapes of Doubt at Inter.pblc. Kåre is in the process of recreating the puzzles in an upscaled version, cutting and glueing together the wood, the piles of birch plywood making us reminisce about the furniture and play houses from our childhood institutions.
Measuring about 170 x 120 cm the works are almost human-scale, placing themselves between formal aesthetic categories; contemporary sculpture, traditional landscape painting and Sixties’ pop art. Similar to the baby puzzles (that Kåre has collected for years), the pieces of the puzzles are missing, leaving large contoured gaps in the caricatured landscape of the farm and jungle tableaux. More than the symbolic act of showcasing an incomplete puzzle, the size, the artistic refinement (notice the impasto of the oil paint) and most importantly the resemblance to information boards, complete with drip cap, thumbtacks and traces from staplers, the works become multi-layered narratives talking about the precarity of the world, about our distorted relation to information and planning (especially in a post-covid context) - and not least about the phenomenology of, not only, the aesthetic experience, but of the human experience; how we meet, perceive and navigate in the world.
Gazing upon Landscapes of Doubt, the way in which we introduce the world to children, and thereby reproduce norms and control actions, reveals itself. The elasticity of, and interconnections between, body, space, time, memory and fantasy are unveiled and it becomes clear that Landscapes of Doubt is just as much about what is there as it is about what is not. About the absence and frailty of things, about what is lost or still yet to come. Is this the landscape of the future - an excavated scenery where the void itself is our only witness of the past? Kåre draws on references to classical landscape painting, where nature becomes both autonomous in its own right as well as a symbolic repository of human cultural and political evolution, and the works thereby transcend themselves and point directly to what they are; landscapes of doubt.
The wood-cuts from the puzzle, representing what is now the negative space on the works’ surface, lay on the studio floor used as palets for the paint, underlining that even in the chaos of things, everything is tied together - connected even if brittle. It is late in the day and we need to say goodbye in order for Kåre to finish his work, including producing news works for another solo exhibition also opening in March. The parallel to the precarity of the artists’ existence is striking and it becomes almost symbolic when we both loose balance on the ramp outside his studio, as we hug each other goodbye.
Text by Nanna Balslev Strøjer, Photography by André Hansen. All images copyright and courtesy of the artist and inter.pblc