14 JULY – 28 AUGUST 2004

Johann König, Berlin presents ELEMENTS, MASSES, MAPS AND SKETCHES the first solo exhibition of Oyvind Fahlström (1928-1976) in Berlin.

The Swede Öyind Fahlströms is now the second artist - following the exhibition of William Copley last year - whom we exhibit as a historical position in close connection with our gallery program oriented towards young contemporary art. One moment that unites both artists and therefore makes them an important reference point for us is that both Fahlström and Copley were political with their own distinct formal language - Copley as a sarcastic painter with the charm of the bohemian above current North American events and Fahlström as an intellectual contemporary political analyst. Another thing the artists have in common is that they were not included in the canon of art historical categorizations of Post-Surrealism, Pop Art, Concept, etc. – because their work seemed too stubborn or too complex, depending on the case.

The appropriation and persiflage of popular visual culture is in the foreground in ESSO-LSD (1967) – certainly one of the artist's best-known works. A kind of sign language that represents the mass image here can also be found in a similar form in the small edition 108 $ BILL (1973). Edition production was here the adequate response to the proportionality between art production and popular image production. With the exception of the works BLACK HOUSE (as an antipode to WHITE HOUSE) and MODEL FOR ELEMENTS FROM THE MASSES (1975), all of the works exhibited here were produced in editions. The sculpture BLACK HOUSE (1968) reflects another important aspect of Fahlström's way of working: that of interactivity. What is meant here is not so much an active viewer-artwork relationship. Rather, this interactivity is a method of image reception and image discovery, at the center of which is the variable image or text fragment. What in BLACK HOUSE are the movable magnetic elements, in other works such as COLUMN NO. 4 (IB-AFFAIR) (1974) is the fragment of (textual) historical and world-political information. Only the construction of a multitude of elements results in a picture - a method that not only provides insight into art but also into Fahlström's world view, and which could not be more current and important.



Öyvind Fahlström (1928–1976) was a Swedish artist known for his esoteric approach to exploring semiotics through visual systems. 

Between 1949 and 1952 he studied art history and classical studies at the University of Stockholm and worked as a journalist. After a two-year stay in Paris (1956-1959), he moved to New York in 1961. It was during this era that he began to integrate comic strip and mass media elements into his artwork. It was also at this time that he introduced three-dimensional components into his works, often presenting playful scenarios that encouraged spectator involvement in the exhibitions. 

He participated in H...
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