Hybrid Worlds

Posted on September 11th, 2015 in English, Texts

Hybrid Worlds – Time and Space in Trine Boesen’s Painting

By dr.phil Anne Ring Petersen, 2014

”Psychedelic” or ”fantasy” you might think the first time you are sucked into one of Trine Boesen’s paintings, and thrown breathlessly around between wildly growing ornamentations and strong acid colours in a universe in which all the usual relations of scale have been eradicated, and wondrous close encounters occur between otherwise disparate and separate elements. Indeed, she has already been placed into this framework. This happened partly in 2011 when Holstebro Kunstmuseum organised the group exhibition ”Psych-Out. Psychedelic Contemporary Art” and brought Boesen’s painting into the company of capricious fantasy spaces of other Danish artists like e.g. Anders Brinch, Jonas Phil, Ida Kvetny and Christian Finne, and partly when Kunsthallen Brandts in 2007 arranged the group exhibition ”Girlpower & Boyhood”, in which Boesen, amongst others including Julie Nord, Kathrine Ærtebjerg, Lise Blomberg Andersen and Eske Kath were declared as representatives for ”the new figurative fantasy painting”, which deals with fantasy, figuration and gender issues (Kjems 2011: 6). Should you look closer, however, you discover – bit by bit – that all the figurative elements in Boesen’s works refer to something that actually exists, like her human figures that often take their reference point from photographs of real people. As Trine Boesen herself has explained about her working methods: ”My approach? I look at all the material that exists in the world that I am in” (Grosenick 2006: 34). In spite of this foundation of empiric observations of reality, you can hardly call Boesen a realist. Generally, her melded universe is difficult to place in well-defined style and genre categories such as ’psychedelic art’, ’fantasy painting’ and ’realism’, because there are elements of all of them in her art. As an initial description of Trine Boesen’s paintings, I will therefore label them as hybrids. I thereby distance myself from previous identifications of Boesen as a fantasy painter, as these failed to acknowledge the development of a more spatially and abstractly-orientated painting that marks her work and exhibitions from recent years.

‘Hybrid’ is a characteristic that applies to a large segment of painting from the last 20 years. If you consult a ’global’ overview of contemporary painting such as Vitamin P. New Perspectives in Painting, you can see this for yourself, as well as get a clear sense that paintings can be hybrids in many different ways (Breuvart 2002). ’Hybrid’ can refer to both the style, the work’s content, the chosen form of expression as a combination of media, and finally to the cross-cultural anchoring of the piece through appropriation of, and references to form and content elements from several different cultures. In this case, the characteristic hybrid underlines the fact that Boesen’s work might well be painted in Denmark, but in an interchange with an international scene. In which sense Boesen’s paintings can be said to be hybrids – whether this characteristic covers more than the taking in of inspiration from the outside and stylistic fusion of the psychedelic and the realistic – we will return to in the following.

Between Countryside and City
Trine Boesen grew up in Ry, was educated at The Jutland Art Academy in Aarhus from 1995-1997, and from 1997-2002 at The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen, where she still lives and works when she isn’t out on one of her many travels to absorb impressions and atmospheres. In other words, her path is suspended between an upbringing in one of Denmark’s most outstanding areas of natural beauty and the capital’s quick pulse and colourful cultural diversity. Seen in that light, it is not so strange that the universal opposition and connection between nature and culture have always been a key motif in Boesen’s paintings, in which for instance the big city’s stripper can meet the pine forest’s deer as seen in Temptation – Mother me (2006), and in which skyscrapers and fantastic giant flowers can grow in a race towards the sky, as in Mind read me (2008). Additionally, many of Boesen’s motifs seem to be derived from the landscape as genre and basic compositional model, but significantly, realised as hypermodern urban landscapes. It is, amongst other things, this particular crossfading of landscape and cityscape and the manmade and naturally created, which contribute to making Boesen’s paintings hybrids – in this case on the level of the motif and the symbolic.

If you want to reach a deeper understanding of Boesen’s art and the development she has undergone in recent years, it is useful to take cross-section through her production. The following will therefore first focus on her universe of motifs, then look at how she unfolds this universe into the respective dimensions of time and space in order to finally return to the work’s composite character and the tension the hybridity evokes.

Inner and Outer Realities
In Trine Boesen’s paintings from 2005-2006, the human is, in several cases, the motifs central figure. This applies for example in the trilogy with the big city tableaux Strange Days, Strange Nights and Kids in the Mist, which replays the dream of great love in three acts, with the young loving couple placed monumentally in the middle (Junge-Stevnsborg 2006: 10). It has, however, always primarily been places and things that have preoccupied the artist, together with moods and colours. People and their emotions have mostly functioned as the narrative impetus for the image narrative and the formal pivotal point around which the rest of the work’s elements are interwoven. As an almost logical consequence, the human figure has not disappeared in the later paintings, but it has at least been scaled down into discreet figures, which only just about give the spectator an anchoring in the image in the shape of a placeholder in its space. Whereas the trilogy from 2005-2006 has the lovers as the main characters in the obvious sense that the series is about them, and thereby only allows the spectator to participate in the image through empathy with the characters’ stories and states of mind, the newer images are more open to the viewer’s own projections and interpretations. They invite you to remember, associate and create meaningful connections on the foundation of your own subjective interpretation. Together with the human figure, the modernist architecture of the skyscraper, which dominated many of Boesen’s images from the mid 00’s, such as Settlers (2003) and Another Real World (2004), has also started to occupy a less prominent place.

An example is the aforementioned Mind read me. Like most of Boesen’s canvases, the painting is big: it measures a whole 215 x 190 cm. In fact, it is structured according to classical landscape painting’s formula with a foreground, a middle ground and a background. In opposition to this, Boesen, however, applies the central perspective’s mimetic representation of space only to the figurative details and not to the entire composition. In spite of the format and the huge yellow chrysanthemum that shoots up in the foreground like a wildly growing and untameable giant hogweed, the painting appears to be almost intimate due to its density of detail. The skyscraper city no longer dominates supreme as in for instance Adventures in Wonderland (2005). Instead, it appears behind the flower’slaciniateleaves, dwarfed by their relative size. In contrast to the flowers, the architecture is not coloured-in, but appears as a graphic drawing in black and white as if it had lost its material substance. This, in turn, increases the architecture’s flexibility as image, and thereby its ability to become one with the portal of signs and things that circle vortex-like in the image’s middle ground and create the frame through which you get a view out towards a cosmic void or an endless universe that simultaneously seems to generate and absorb everything.

In the portal’s web of abstract ornamental and spatial elements, you re-encounter a number of typical Boesen motifs: from the car to the nuts, which anchor the stream of things on the ground, over stylised faces of young girls, to warning signs forbidding explosives and a Swiss army knife, which with unfolded blades seems to attack the flower from the side, seconded by a laughing set of false teeth. You also re-encounter the mushrooms and the exotic flowers that grow lushly out from the cracks in the urban motifs. As if to underline the dynamic in the picture, Boesen lets a banner reminiscent of a road network wave through the empty space as an abstract sign for speed and movement, which, however, ends in a recognisable figure: a cherub gone astray, hurled from the outer universe into the dense weaving of worldly objects. While the woman above wears black sunglasses, and thereby seems to look inward towards her own self, the woman in the lowest part of the picture looks curiously outwards and upwards. It is through her active observing figure that we are projected into the image universe and become the recipients ourselves of the flood of mutually interrelated pieces of information that float towards her. Mind read me thereby visualises the connectedness, which is one of the challenges in a globalised world in which digital networks and increased traffic across the globe get people, cultures and information to cross paths on a – so far – unseen scale and at a higher speed. That the painting’s overwhelming accumulation of things and signs, movements and streams does not seem heavy and overloaded, but on the contrary has a fine and almost weightless balance in its composition, is due to Boesen’s particular method of combining painting and drawing, in which the contours of all the shapes in the painting are drawn with a pencil on a prepared white canvas, with several areas being allowed to remain uncoloured as a line drawing.

Painting and the Other Media
In a historical sense, drawing has been an important sketching tool for the artist, not in the least when one made paintings ’after nature’. The nature or reality that Trine Boesen portrays in her pictures is often a reality experienced at second hand, because it is first filtered through the images of others. As with most other artists, Boesen sources nutrition for her own art through the study of the art of others: it can be space-creating painters such as the Germans Katharina Grosse and Franz Ackermann, American feminist artists or a frenetic artist using drawing such as Raymond Pettibon, or it can be psychedelic image experiments from the 1970’s, or the sampling of different images from pop artists such as Robert Rauschenberg and James Rosenquist (Junge-Stevnsborg 2006: 11). Although she finds inspiration in small everyday things, her pictures are not based directly on an observation of reality, as pictures of realism and naturalism are. Rather, they build on findings from her now extensive image archive with images from magazines and books, private photos etc.

Therefore, Boesen’s paintings are representatives of the form of painting that the artist and art theorist Peter Weibel has named ”pittura immedia” (Weibel 2010), but with a term from media theory you may also name them ”remediated” painting (Bolter and Grusin 1999). Weibel used the term to describe how painting was transformed in the 20th century when artists, in a larger manner, started to appropriate images and techniques from mechanical, electronic and digital media such as photography, film, TV, video and – later on – the computer and the Internet. Paintings based on such media are, according to Weibel, not only characterised by mediation, but also byimmediation.They have been filtered through the visual media’s mechanical reproduction, i.e. their ’photographic’ and ’filmic’ visuality and modes of depiction. Thereby, their relationship to the world has become partially more distant and second hand, while partially becoming more attentive to the nature of its imagery. According to Weibel, the result is a painting, which emphasises painting’s mediated, coded and contextual character. Because such works are paintings they can, however, also work themselves out on the other side of the mediation and forward to a form of sensory immediacy and presence in the midst of its mediation – that Weibel calls immediation. In short, media conscious painting transcends the visuality of the electronic and digital image forms by simply insisting on the painterly as a sensory phenomenon. It is a type of painting that wants to have it’s cake and it eat too. It is holding on to painting’s sensuality and colour, yet at the same time insisting that painting is connected to the technically reduceable forms of images that dominate the visual culture of our time. As ”pittura immedia”, Trine Boesen’s paintings are also a kind of indirect description of the epochal visuality and common visual culture they are derived from; an image culture where images are accesible in excess, and where it is almost impossible not to be sucked into its vortex on a daily basis.

The flood of motifs in Boesen’s paintings thereby sends a signal about the dominance and accessibility of images in our culture. Boesen constructs a realism of details by using a kind of collage technique in which pieces of motifs from different existing image sources are assembled into a new reality, and are even further mediated through the use of yet another technology – that being the overhead projector, Boesen’s indispensable tool. As opposed to the collage, however, painting and drawing tend to even-out the transitions between the fragments so that we hardly think about the stitching of the motifs, but to the contrary, experience a Boesen painting as a kind of totality, an image world.

The Mutual Relationship between Things
Indeed, ’Realism of details’, ’collage’ and ’pittura immedia’ are terms that can help to define the characteristics of Boesen’s artistic expression. To this one should add ’accumulations’. Kirse Junge-Stevnsborg has, very appropriately, compared Boesen’s teaming big city universes with an anthill, in which everything happens and interconnects in multifarious ways: ”One doesn’t notice it until one is in the middle of it. One starts to imagine that there is a whole little world inside it. Social norms and communities, patterns of behaviour and rules of law. A societal order that can be compared with a mental thought process in which the brain cells communicate with each other and create activity, images and meanings. A microcosm within a macrocosm.” (Junge-Stevnsborg 2006: 11) An accumulation therefore of the big world in the painting’s small world. As Lise Skytte Jacobsen has noted, the accumulation is as an artistic organisational principle, historically connected with the modern industrialised world and its forms of mass production. The accumulation is probably most widely used as a sculptural organisational principle, but as Boesen’s paintings demonstrate, it can also function as an image-making compositional principle. An accumulation is an assemblage of many different things, but the quantity is not important in itself. A factory warehouse with thousands of systematically placed goods does not constitute an accumulation but, rather, a warehouse system; while on the other hand, so does a gathering of old furniture and belongings in a loft. It is thereby the organisation of the objects, their distribution in space and their spatial as well as architectonic structure, which define an accumulation. An accumulation is thus a qualitative term that describes a structuring of the things, which does not arise out of their user function, but rather – as the collage – tear the elements out of their original contexts. The accumulation and the collage de-contextualise the things in order to make them into something else. As Skytte Jacobsen concludes: ”The accumulation threatens, in other words, the objects’ independent identities and their stable meaning.” (Jacobsen 2005: 11) An accumulation creates unfamiliar encounters and interactions between things, and it accelerates a shift in meaning because ”the accumulation [is] not first and foremost depending on the density, but rather on initially unexplainable, overwhelming relations between the elements” (Jacobsen 2005: 16).

Relations are precisely what steers Boesen’s work with painting. She transfers her imagery onto transparencies so that she, through the aid of her overhead projector, can project them and, using pencil, transfer them to the canvas one at a time. By changing the distance between projector and canvas she can regulate the size of the motifs. By moving the projector, she can repeat a motif, and by placing several transparencies on the projector at the same time, she can, in the sketching phase, investigate how one element connects itself to another to create a constellation that can connect itself with new constellations over and over again, so that the object elements create ambiguous and branching, but never-the-less, consciously directed chains of association. Even though Boesen usually has an overall idea as to how the painting should be, the accumulation of motifs evolves in a working process that is at once controlled, and yet open to surprising occurrences, incidentally appearing couplings and impulsive thoughts.

One thing is the motif elements, another is the themes that the elements build up and that form leading threads through Boesen’s production. The clearest and possibly most important of these is the relationship between nature and culture, but other factors are pushing in. There is not a great distance between accumulation and a lined-up display, or still life as it is called in art terminology. In a still life, all the objects are loaded with symbolic meaning and point ultimately towards life’s connection with death. Therefore a lined-up display is often interpreted as a momento mori. In a traditionally still life with e.g. a lavish bouquet of flowers, one can thereby find a few withered flowers or perhaps a fly or a butterfly, which symbolically points towards life’s shortness and earthly transience. The detailed realism of the objects makes Boesen’s paintings reminiscent of a still life’s frozen stasis – while simultaneously, they are paradoxically very dynamic. As in the sixteenth century Dutch Vanitas pictures, one constantly encounters small reminders of the fragility of life – from the threatening switchblade, to warning signs forbidding explosives, the grinning of false teeth, and the copulating skeletons above the flies, the butterflies and the stuffed deer trophies, to the empty dark universe that breaks through the cracks in the thin membrane of civilisation.

If Boesen’s universes are suspended between life and death, nature and culture, microcosmos and macrocosmos, they are at the same time also suspended between chaos and order. And this applies to the formal compositional level as well as the content. Take for example Ghost I (2010) and Ghost II (2010) in which huge stacks of firewood tower along a road as far as the eye can see, and give the image-space a walled stability. However, the stability seems, at the same time, to be overshadowed by the frenetic cluster of known and unknown artefacts that drift above them like a runaway storm cloud. Compositionally, the stacks of firewood in Ghost I and Ghost II function like the modern architecture from slightly earlier big city visions such as Cucumber Eyes (2004), Concrete River (2005) and The Mind’s Eye (2005). They form a temporary bulwark of order against the explosive chaos, which streams towards the viewer like a tidal wave approaching from afar.

It is therefore no coincidence that Boesen has given the double painting from 2005 the title Butterfly Effect 1 and Butterfly Effect 2. In chaos theory, the butterfly effect refers to the observation that small changes in one place, in a non-linear system and through chain-reactions, can cause major changes at a later stage and in another place. The term can be traced back to the middle of the 20th century when meteorologists mapped apparently random or chaotic weather phenomena that, when analysed over time, created a graphic double spiral pattern, reminiscent of butterfly wings. Since then the term has often been used as a metaphor for how an apparently chaotic process can be controlled by a form of self-organisation, and how small occurrences can lead to major consequences, even though we humans cannot directly determine the logic that connects them. To Trine Boesen, the butterfly effect seems to almost have become an image of how her art comes about. Like a butterfly’s wing beating in the chaos theory’s theoretical example can create small changes in the atmosphere, which can influence the direction and character of a tornado weeks later somewhere else, so can any element that Boesen adds to her images affect the whole, and cause unpredictable semantic changes. As viewers, we have no insight into the underlying system – the causes for the choices Boesen makes. We are just witnesses to the accumulating tornado that most of her paintings really are.

Space and Architecture
The tornado effect, however, does not overshadow the fact that Trine Boesen’s compositions are at the same time tightly controlled. They are ruled by an overview like the architect’s and the city planner’s. Like them, Trine Boesen first of all creates space. And she belongs to the innovators exploring space within painting – both inwards and outwards. Inwards, she renews painting (equally with painters like the Ethiopian-born, New York-based Julie Mehretu, the German painter Torben Giehler and, on Danish soil, Eske Kath) with great strength and daring by twisting the spatial construction of the central perspective in new ways, manipulating the natural scale of things and suspending gravity so that the space of the image is set strongly into motion and things threaten to slip out of place. Boesen uses overwhelming jumps in scale to connect the things together in new ways. The things look real, but the proportions are out of tune with reality. Instead, their scale is dictated by the meaning and function they have in the image’s narrative (Rosenvinge 2010). With the distortion of the relationships of scale in a recognisable motif, the artist opens the possibility for the eye to be tricked into seeing a figure in an abstract form, or vice versa, to seeing an abstract form in something that is actually a figure. In a split second everything can transform itself, and everything can connect itself with something else. Spatial connectivity and temporary simultaneity thereby seem to be two sides of the same coin for Boesen, who interweaves inner and outer realities so tightly that they can no longer be separated.

In terms of motif, Boesen has often organised the space using modern architecture as large forms, which hold the image’s myriad of details in place. Although she likes to let the architecture stand unpainted and flat like a theatrical set piece, she nonetheless gives the viewer a strong experience of spatiality by using a three-fold artistic method: first of all, a steep or suction-like perspective. Boesen knowingly exploits the possibilities to direct the viewer into unfamiliar viewpoints with the assistance of frog’s or bird’s-eye perspectives in combination with twisted angles and multiple vanishing points in the same painting. Secondly, she works with the repetition of abstract elements distributed on the surface to create spatial depth; and thirdly, she uses overlapping planes to create a sense of space behind space, which evokes a feeling that the big city’s noisy and familiar world of fellow human beings, high-rises, everyday events and personal things bursts, revealing an unknown and unfathomable space behind.

Painting and Installation
Trine Boesen does, however, also work with the physical space around the paintings. Since 2002 she has drawn on the exhibition walls, and on several occasions since 2007 she has opened up the picture space to the viewer by utilising the strategies of installation art. Beginning with the solo exhibition ”Strange Days” at Vane Contemporary Art in Newcastle in 2007, Boesen has gathered her paintings together in an installatory hang by extending their motifs out into the surroundings through the use of illusionary mural paintings. For example, in ”Strange Days” the whirling loose pieces of boards in The Wish (2007) continued their explosion outside the painting’s format, while the pine forest in Temptation – Mother Me grew out into the surroundings.

Boesen’s Frisk pust fra kosmos (A Fresh Wind from the Cosmos) was in fact an actual wall painting executed in and for one of Kunsthal Charlottenborg’s exhibition spaces in connection with the exhibition of wall paintings Til vægs (Against the Wall) in 2009. By letting the painting spread out from a corner, Boesen connected her image with the room in a way that created space. The painting struck, in an illusionistic way, a hole in the wall and opened up a view to the cosmos, from where a ”fresh wind” flowed in, in the form of round red balls, accompanied by signs, nuts, stars and other surprising objects. They seem to hurtle at high speed from outer space in through the crack, in order to spread out in the hall. The motif was, on the one hand, a painting in the tradition of the baroque monumental illusionary wall and ceiling decoration, which in a similar way opened up the architecture to let another often divine or mythological world into the concrete architecture. On the other hand, and to a great extent, it was also a modern abstract composition whose bearing elements, the cosmos’ black monochrome and the repetitive ball-shape that constituted the picture’s minimalist and formal primary motif.

You also got a cosmic sense from the 75 m2 large wall painting that Trine Boesen created in 2013 for the octagonal hall in Den Frie, Centre of Contemporary Art as her contribution to the group exhibition ”Stedet er Rummet” (The Place is the Space) about the dealing in contemporary art with science fiction and ’space’ understood as both a galactic space and architectural space, including the exhibition space itself. Under the title Et andet sted (Another Place) Boesen installed paintings as ’roofs’ on the diagonal surface of the two freestanding podiums. They seem to intercept identifiable and unidentified flying objects from the poetic light blue panorama that Boesen has spread out onto the walls behind them, as the sky over the rooftops of the city. Et andet sted takes its motif’s form from the painting series UFO presented earlier the same year at Boesen’s solo exhibition at Gallery MøllerWitt in Aarhus. In this series, which features the outlook post as an architectural centre point and ’observation’ as lead motif, you also see clouds of signs, pictograms, words, objects, numbers and abstract elements as line fragments, circles and arrows spread out over the paintings’ weightless universes.

The installation Et andet sted did not only give a ”freshwind”, but rather transported the hall and the viewer into another form of spatiality or another dimension of consciousness. The ”other place” that the installation suggested, broughtwell-known manmade objects in close contact with the bluish infinity of the space and unidentifiable objects. The installation thereby created an unknown form of polarity between near and far, known and unknown, material and immaterial. Et andet sted thereby also suspended the viewer between ’here and there’: between the body’s heavy presence in the physical space and a weightless journey out to imaginary galaxies.

But what does the arrangement of an exhibition (or a contribution to an exhibition) as a coherent installation actually bring to Boesen’s otherwise two-dimensional canvases? What does she achieve by letting psychedelic patterns intertwine themselves as a pressure wave out onto the walls, as she did in her exhibition ”Hej Society” in Aarhus Kunstbygning (2005), or by ’connecting’ the paintings Miss Blacky White and the Anthills (2006) and Miss bLW (2006) to the surroundings with black tendrilson the wall of the now defunct Gallery Mogadishni (2006)? Not to mention her carefully orchestrated interconnection of all her canvases with the aid of a huge wall decoration at the significant solo exhibition of World Without End at Vejle Kunstmuseum in 2009. As at Kunsthal Charlottenborg the same year, Boesen had made illusionistic holes in the walls, so that something unknown could penetrate in from a distance. But in Vejle the pace and the impact was different because here coloured balls in delicate hues drifted slowly and gracefully as soap bubbles from the holes in order to spread themselves out over all the walls of the exhibition as a silent and wonderful poetry.

What Boesen achieves is first and foremost an expansion of her universe beyond the frame, and an enhancement of the mutual relationships between the individual paintings in the exhibition. Secondly, she displaces painting in a genre-like sense: the pieces are no longer ’easel paintings’ in a traditional sense, but unlike e.g. Franz Ackermann’s and Katharina Grosse’s painting installations, they do not completely overtake the gallery space. Boesen’s exhibitions position themselves consciously askew in relation to both categories. The pieces are neither easel paintings nor installations, but then again they are in turn a bit of both. Finally, the staging releases a kind of double invitation to the viewer. One is partly encouraged to experience and read the collected presentation as a whole in which the paintings refer to each other across the space, partly invited to immerse oneself in each painting’s own anthill. In this way the viewer is invited into a more complex experience than what painting often offers.

This was particularly evident at Boesen’s exhibition ”Everything is Blinking”at the Copenhagen gallery Beaver Projects in 2012, where she, as something new, had tried her hand at a circular picture format, here shown in a total staging with night-black walls sprinkled with clusters of stars drawn with Posca pen. As a whole the installation signalled ’cosmos’, but at the same time the round canvases, like some remote, isolated spheres put under magnifying glass, encouraged the viewer to examine each of their unique magical weightless worlds. In contrast to the actual installation art, Boesen’s stagings of painting do not rob the spectator of his or her overview. Even though the total exhibition space cannot of course be overviewed in its entirety in a glance, you are still able to get an overview of the single canvas. Rather, the installation in Beaver Projects made the viewer spatially disorientated. That probably had more to do with the dizzying perspectives in the round, almost floating paintings themselves than the fact that the exhibition was staged as an installation in which the round images were glimmering from unfamiliar high and low positions within the space’s starry sky.

In 2014 Boesen continued to work with site-specific all-encompassing stagings and round canvases in the solo exhibition ”Measuring Space” at the Copenhagen gallery Kant. Here she had divided the exhibition space in two: a green space for the series Wanderlust and a white space for the round canvasses from the series Grey Scale. The contrast between colour-scale and grey-tone, the green space’s relative darkness and, caused by the contrast, the almost glowing white space created a contrast-rich sensory experience in which the interactions between spatial connectedness and temporal simultaneity, which Boesen works with in her paintings, seemed to extend themselves out to the surrounding space. Compared with earlier works, Grey Scale and Wanderlust introduce a simplification and reduction of the figurative elements, possibly most evident in Grey Scale.

The series indeed contains ’documentary’ elements from cityscapes of Copenhagen, Berlin and Marrakesh, but they are interpreted so abstractly that the paintings become what the anthropologist Marc Augé has described as non-places, meaning anonymous places one can find everywhere in the globalised and urbanised world of today, places devoid of local character and cultural anchoring in ’the place’. In turn, Boesen has endowed them with a spacy weightlessness that makes them into places from another world. The architectonic and abstract geometric thereby move in the foreground in the exhibition ”Measuring Space” – also in a literal sense as Boesen in the gallery’s front space executed the wall painting Start with the End across the corner of the space. The painting’s geometrical outlines with white on a black background hark back to Sol Lewitt’s monumental wall drawings, but with the addition of Boesen’s unmistakeable dynamic activation of the pictorial space and play with spatial depth and infinite endlessness. At the same time, Start with the End pointed forward to Boesen’s solo exhibition ”New Resort” at Trapholt in the Autumn of 2014. In particular to the up until now culmination of her work with painting’s spatial dimensions in the total installation The Grand Cabinet. Here the piece’s 4.1 meter high architecture formed an asymmetric star-shaped painting-as-theatrical-set-piece, which completely enclosed the visitor, who as a voyager moved into its core to explore its inner landscape.

At the exhibitions where Boesen has extended the image’s universe beyond the canvas with either figurative or ornamental areas of paint, something else happens. Here the barrier between the piece and the spectator’s space is penetrated, because the areas of paint around the canvasses create doubt about where the borders are drawn, and whether the borders are still there. We are so used to consider paintings as a form of art in which the borders are defined by the frame, that we seldom think about the fact that strong images can contain an auroral dynamic, meaning a radiance that causes the charging and conquering of the space around them to such an extent that nothing else can hang in their proximity. Boesen’s wall paintings can be perceived as visualisations and image-making of this so to speak invisible, yet perceptible radiance. This perhaps becomes most visible in her installation of Space Odyssey I (2011) at Holstebro Kunstmuseum’s exhibition ”Psych-Out. Psykedelisk samtidskunst” (Psych-Out: Psychedelic Contemporary Art) (2011). Here the image’s own pink foundation was extended ’aurorally’ out into the surroundings due to a stronger pink colour on the wall around the image, which created a colourful radiance that enhanced the awareness of the pressure waves emanating out from its explosive motif.

Time and Speed
One of the characteristics of installation art is that it extends the experience of the artwork over time (Petersen 2009: 41-42). Trine Boesen consciously exploits this characteristic when she stages her paintings as installations. Add to this that her detailed realism and her surprising combining of motif elements also contribute toward getting the viewer to dwell with curiosity and investigate the piece. Although at first her dynamic compositions send signals about high-speed life in the fast lane, as seen for example in The Bridge (2010), the level of detailing supports slow contemplation. In addition, each piece is, in reality, the product of a slow and time-consuming work process. It would therefore not be wrong to say that, in terms of time, the contemplating viewer’s reading-time mimics the artist’s production time, and that the slowness of both stands in a relationship of tension to the experience of speed and acceleration that the images communicate. Boesen’s images thereby function as a kind of intersection of different temporalities: the slow and the fast, the static and the moving. It is perhaps the key, too, that they so efficiently communicate a sense of chaos and ”all things simultaneously being present in the world” (Bonde 2007: 37). On the one hand, they relate to the overwhelming flow of information that many contemporary people are exposed to; on the other hand, they establish small oases of beauty and contemplation.

I started out by calling Trine Boesen’s paintings hybrids, and as we have seen they are hybrids in more than one sense. As the introduction already stated, they unite different stylistic features. Amongst other things, she draws on psychedelic art, fantasy painting and photo-based realism, but also on architectural drawing, illusionistic monumental painting and ”pittura immedia” (Peter Weibel). In technical terms, the paintings are built on the interaction between different media and technologies: photography, the internet, the overhead projector, drawing, painting, collage and installation. Add to this that her pictorial worlds intersect different times and insert different spaces into each other. In terms of her motifs, she has a unique ability to get everything otherwise incompatible and fundamentally different to reconcile on the painting’s surface, so that the image at once seems convincingly coherent and clearly constructed. Therefore it can also be said that Boesen’s paintings are controlled hybrids. Although the diversity of each image can at times seem overwhelming, it is not just everything that is allowed to be in a painting. The overall concept of the painting controls the selection of the elements, and considerations of content and form are carefully balanced. Therefore the repeated space-creators and a colour scheme narrowed down in a single image to a limited palette, to ensure a unifying coloristic effect.

Cultural hybrids always contain tensions, and Boesen’s hybrid worlds have this more than average. Purely in terms of the experiential, they can create a tension in the viewer between ’here’ and ’there’ – that between the viewer’s actual space and bodily presence ’here and now’ and the image’s illusionistic space, which generates another time and another place, or another dimension of consciousness: the dream or vision. Regardless of what theme Boesen brings up, she seems to be inclined to build on the relationships of tension, for example, between big and small, distant and near, acceleration and slowness. She also builds up the image around interacting opposites, as for example, the recurrent dualisms between nature and culture, and between chaos and order. For Boesen, such polarities and tensions are a contemporary condition that the painting in itself cannot change, but possibly helps us to reflect on and understand:

“I think that we live in a time, where nearly everything is possible, the reality far surpasses what one could possibly imagine, the flow of information and mass communication is heavier than ever and we are very ’global’. Our time is very dynamic, very planned, very ambitious, very chaotic and to a great extent filled with contrasts. The polarity is pronounced in both respect to the positive and the negative. I’m not trying to change ’our time’ in my paintings; I try to capture it.” (Boesen quoted in Grosenick 2006: 35)

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