Reality Bites is the first monograph dedicated to the work of Fredrik Værslev, analyzed through rich visual content and texts by Matias Faldbakken, Alberto Salvadori and Caroline Soyez-Petithomme, as well as a conversation between the artist and Josh Smith.
“If you look closely at the reproductions of Fredrik Værslev's work and at the installation views [included in this book], you cannot but notice that there is something decidedly strange and funny about them. Those things that would be perceived in other photographs of the same genre as imperfections or parasitical intrusions turn into an affirmation and a comical form of repetition. […] Even if we had supposed that what we are looking at is essentially conceptual abstraction, by the time we come to the last page of this book we are obliged to admit that Fredrik Værslev's approach is in fact rather incongruous. His pictorial compositions seem to be porous to their surroundings. This aspect of the work takes full advantage of the condensed effect offered by the publication's format which, in contrast to the exhibitions themselves, necessarily offers only partial views of the work, which is dispersed across various places and moments. […] In many of the photographs, the paintings are obstructed by elements as extrinsic as they are surprising, for example, dogs, or a man dressed only in his underwear. All of this makes clear that, much as Fredrik Værslev may insist that he is only a painter, there is considerably more going on in his practice, both in this book and beyond”.
Published following the artist exhibitions “Querelle of Brest”, Passerelle Centre d'art contemporain, Brest, from February 7 to May 2, 2015, and “Inner Beauty”, Museo Marino Marini, Florence, from September 20 to November 28, 2015.
Fredrik Værslev (born 1979 in Moss, Norway, lives and works in Drøbak, Norway) studied at the Staatliche Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Frankfurt and at the Malmö Art Academy, Sweden. He is the director and founder of the Landings Project Space in Vestfossen, Norway. He exhibited in numerous museums and institutions worldwide.
One of the most original voices of contemporary painting, Norwegian artist Fredrik Værslev navigates between different painterly traditions. His practice demonstrates an insistent focus on the painting process that demonstrates the possibilities and relevance of the medium today. His works stem from the meeting between architecture and painting, and take form as painted renderings of motifs from the artist's daily life. He treats his paintings as objects, often created through more or less laborious, serial, or deterministic processes where time itself, as well as various external factors, become active co-creators in the making of the piece. In several series he left his paintings outdoors for long periods of time, allowing the weather and external wear to complete them. Other works employ apparently clichéd techniques, motifs, or art historical quotations (i.e. dripping and splattering). Værslev also challenges the process of painting by freely collaborating with fellow artists or making use of untraditional painting tools, such as spray cans or equipment used to paint roads and sports arenas. Værslev's paintings often shift between abstraction and representation, as can be seen in his breakthrough series, the “terrazzo” paintings, that imitate the visuality of Italian stone floors and at the same time call upon the expressivity and spontaneity of abstract expressionism. The “Canopy” series is reminiscent of modernism and its stripe paintings, but they stem rather from the awnings at the artist's childhood home.