REFERENTS OF MERGE
Stene Project Gallery, Stockholm
Daniel Fleur graduated from Malmö Art Academy in the spring of 2018. Given the early stages of his career, the works he now shows at Stene Project are remarkably intricate: both
technically fine-tuned and intelligent, at the same time humble and self-willed - clearly situated in the painting tradition but with its very own tonality.
The exhibition consists of a series of paintings that go in everything from ochre to pastel.
With small, short brushstrokes, Fleur depicts vast undulating landscapes and enclosed spaces, sometimes populated, sometimes not. Common to the motifs is that the brushwork makes them out of focus on the border of blurred, which strains both the eye and the brain of the viewer. Our eyes tend to seek sharpness and focus - a calm that is not offered by Fleur.
In In the Defense of the Poor Image, Hito Steyerl writes about the low-status position of the blurry and low-resolution image in today's art and media climate:
It is a ghost of an image, a preview, a thumbnail, an errant idea [...] squeezed through slow digital connections, compressed, reproduced, ripped, remixed, as well as copied and pasted into other channels of distribution. [...] The poor image is a rag or a rip; an AVI or a JPEG, a lumpen proletarian in the class society of appearances, ranked and valued according to its resolution.
For those who know Fleur's history, it is difficult not to draw parallels between the new suite of paintings and the "thumbnail" - the compressed digital image. When he was commissioned to work in dialogue with the museum's large archive of Carl Fredrik Hill before an exhibition at Malmö Art Museum 2017, he went through hundreds of pixel thumbnails before selecting several works to study closely. The process left a clear mark on the resulting exhibition and seems to influence his work even today. By playing on the contrast between compressed digital files and the aura of the manually produced original, Fleur recaptures the poor image" and returns it - in the name of the fine arts - into the exhibition space.
Although Fleur has left the clearest Hill references behind, the influences from Hill's disease art are still reminiscent of works such as Cache and Rate with their winding shapes and abysmal landscapes. When the gaze fails and the sharpness fails, the imagination takes over: a bush becomes a figure, a shadow becomes an animal... When the world seems blurry, the imagination is closer at hand. Like the light refracts through a prism, Fleur's paintings break our impressions of the world into pixels, and from the shadow play of the pixels, the world unfolds in full color.