Rose Painting, the second solo show of Norwegian-German artist Yngve Holen, was recently on view at Galerie Neu in Berlin through July 14. This exhibition presented a series of rims, ‘gutted’ from five different sports utility vehicles and then 3D-scanned, scaled to a diameter of two meters, and optimized to be milled in CLT (cross-laminated timber). The resulting objects are flower-like wooden constructions that feature symmetrical lines organized around a center point. Rose Painting addresses the formal design languages of a utility object, questioning the fetish object and psychosocial design that punctuate the objects that clutter wealth distribution.
The role of ornamentation in the above questions is central to this exhibition, which emphasized the process of creating the art object as much as the art object itself. The press release states, “Rims are typically made of aluminum, a material whose ambivalent value bears, on the one hand, the symbolic aura of modernity, while on the other, the ‘stain’ of a cheap substitute.” The artist’s choice to reproduce these rims in cross-laminated timber, this form is exaggerated in a form that is typically understood to be more valuable, traditional, and environmentally sustainable. In this way, these forms point to the symbolic and economic conditions of their proliferation, since the crisis of functionalism in the 1960s, and seek to “ride out the increasing aerodynamics of the contemporary chassis.”
The reimagined rims are products of technical woodcarving, a process that expose the milling traces, tears, and cracks of an industrially prefabricated resource sculpted by a machine. With their rescaled form, the rims present these blemishes as a ‘natural’ byproduct, pointing to the current schizophrenic relationship to automobiles that strives for optimized car use and reduced emissions, while continuing to fetishize and covet the SUV. In a sense, the SUV epitomizes the frenzied materialistic collecting of ornaments and materials behind car culture. The large-scale vehicles are extremely popular despite their high consumption of gas and the danger they pose to other drives and pedestrians, as well as their inutility in the suburban or residential contexts in which they are frequently found.
The design and possession of the SUV, like that of rims, illustrates the complex mechanisms of ornamentation, style, and economics motivating the circulation and production of automotive accessories. The title of this exhibition points to the function of the ornament to embellish an object, as well as invest it with value and suggestions of worth. The craftmanship implied in the title and objects of the exhibition stand in interesting and not entirely opposing relationship to the industrial processes of mechanical production implied by the rim.
Exhibition Page [Galerie Neu]