Torben Ribe’s artistic work examines the interrelationship of everyday-life aesthetics with the autonomous abstract artwork. Using painting as his subject of endless scrutiny, Ribe is interested in how abstract, commercial, and private pictures are influenced by the mutual relationship between them and how far this influence extends.
What exactly can be defined as a painting and what kinds of unorthodox elements can be used to create it? How about using one’s daughter’s favorite Disney character, financial destitution, one’s personal taste in interior design, a letter from the job centre, or even a topical pandemic to power non-figurative painting?
Ribe involves these external effects as concrete material and content in his works, which he often refers to as ‘interior painting’. Elements from the domestic sphere, in particular, and the common activities, ordinary objects, and socio-economic realities, prevalent in all homes, inspire Ribe. With all its banal practicalities, this everyday life appears in stark contrast to the exalted abstract painting and it is this friction that Ribe wants to activate.
On the ground floor Torben Ribe has created the total installation OUTLET. The gallery spaces have been transformed into a painterly and sculptural version of a discount furniture outlet passed through the filter of an underplayed, post-modern aesthetic. Unspecified sofa sets are scattered randomly in the rooms, either standing on plinths or in small clusters. The sofas are styled using decorative cushions and fleece blankets with printed snapshot photos on them, all resembling cheap merchandise in an unspecified and temporary outlet. Accompanying the furniture, Ribe has installed abundant quantities of floating shelves throughout the gallery as a kind of unifying architectural feature or empty dashes waiting to be filled.
Amongst the sofas Ribe has placed a series of paintings in various different rectangular formats mimicking the flat-screen. Some are mounted on TV stands or placed on the floating shelves, others are placed on plinths and walls. From a distance, the paintings’ subdued pastels and geometric shapes dominate the picture plane, but a closer look reveals that the picture is composed as assemblages of various materials and elements. Ribe has used sawdust wallpaper as canvas on which he has embedded articles on hand hygiene, a pregnancy test, a recurrent picture of Elsa from Frost, a series of googled images of children in walking harnesses, graffiti emojis, and a paraphrase of the flat-screen screensaver of the Elgiganten store.
With the sofas as a sort of underplayed formal sculptures, comprised of plinths, geometric shapes, coloured planes, and minimalist compositions, the lifestyle objects and the commercial warehouse displays go hand in hand with an apparently stringent painterly mode of expression. Via this ambivalent aesthetic, Ribe reflects on the ludicrous clash between the artistically sublime execution of abstract painting and the socio-political reality associated with the painterly process. For the artist’s reality is very often packed with frequent interruptions, procrastinations, spontaneous inspiration, lack of concentration, and in Ribe’s case also fear; fear of making mistakes, of loneliness, unemployment, of children running into the street, and a host of other things.
By including these arbitrary everyday trivialities as a kind of force majeure, Ribe conveys to us the precarious relationship of contemporary art with society, contemporary image formations, class differences, and economy, the potential of triviality, and life’s infinite fortuitousness.
Paintings seek the decorative and harmonious, but are dragged through the mud by mediocrity, compromises, and the sense of everything being a cheap version of something seen before. They are a theatre of the realities of ordinary life, slowly but surely breaking through the non-figurative skin like a cancerous tumour or slow water damage, oozing day and night, without one being able to do anything about it.
– Torben Ribe
Torben Ribe (b. 1978) is educated from The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in 2006. He has exhibited widely in Denmark and abroad with several solo and group exhibitions, including Pizza is God at NRW-Forum, Düsseldorf, Cool, Calm and Collected at AROS, Aarhus, Lean Issues at Kyoto Art Center, Kyoto, Indoor Paintings at David Risley Gallery, Copenhagen, Neighbours at CAR drde, Bologna as well as Landscapes and Fruit at Galerie Hussenot, Paris. Lately, he has exhibited at Ringsted Galleriet, Ringsted with Maiken Bent.
The exhibition is supported by the Danish Arts Foundation, 15. Juni Foundation, Knud Højgaards Foundation, Augustinus Foundation, The Obel Family Foundation, and sponsored by Daells Bolighus.
Please find more information on the exhibition in this Q&A with Torben Ribe: “Q&A: Torben Ribe on corona-lockdown, outlets, painting – and his upcoming solo exhibition”
Opening reception September 11th from 12 noon -8 pm
The exhibtion runs from September 12th – November 8th 2020