Morten Hemmingsen (solo) + Jeffrey Owen Ralston (solo)

Morten Hemmingsen (solo) + Jeffrey Owen Ralston (solo) Press Release

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Opening Reception: Saturday, June 1 from 7-9 pm
Exhibitions run June 1-30t, 2013

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New York, NY, May 15, 2013 – Munch Gallery is pleased to present two solo exhibitions. ‘I Believe in Death after Life’ by Morten Hemmingsen (DK) and ‘Summer Home Collection’ by Jeffrey Owen Ralston (US). Both artists will be present at the Opening Reception Saturday, June 1 from 7-9 pm.

 

Morten Hemmingsen  I Believe in Death after Life

Hemmingsen’s approach is not without humor, when he takes on the substantial topics of life and death. It’s not the loud slapstick humor, but a quiet subtle one that might make you chuckle, but there is often more at stake, an underlying thoughtfulness and sincerity. The exhibition contemplates our final destination, and invites the viewer to engage and reflect, but the artist himself has a significant view on life and the aftermath in particular, which is expressed across multiple media.

With puns and play, Hemmingsen creates his iconic blue/white banners. Carved in wood but ceramic in appearance, they draw references to the tattoo- and Danish/Dutch porcelain traditions. It’s an illusion of fragility paired with quirky lines and images. The banner with the exhibition title ‘I Believe in Death after Life’ emphasizes that life should be lived here and now - there is no “on the other side”. This is the artist’s conviction, and it is not the only work of art where Hemmingsen battles religious beliefs. Similar sentiment can be seen in the monochrome inverted black cross, with the carved text ‘Good God’. A work that attracts the viewer with its immediate exquisiteness, but behind the superficial glossiness the message appears cynical and questions the construction of our lives, and the faith in redemption. Death on the other hand becomes very tangible in the series ‘Victim’ where the remains of dead animals are explored – a dissected frog,  a dismembered horse, an canidae autopsy.

Besides wood cuts carved with one-liners or illustrated with every day objects, the exhibition will also present some of his other work; paintings made on the back of vintage school posters along with selected gouache work. This is Hemmingsen’s second exhibition at Munch Gallery.

 

Jeffrey Owen Ralston  Summer Home Collection

It’s a typical morning. I am sipping tea, flipping through a CB2 catalogue, and listening to HGTV’s ‘Design on a Dime.’ I’m dressed and ready for a day trip to Ikea. I’m not looking for anything in particular, but just feel like browsing. My cart fills fast with random and perfectly matching objects. They all make so much sense to me. I’m back home and anxiously unwrap the packaging. I’m disappointed. Nothing seems to be how I imagined; nothing matches anymore. Everything is too small to fit anything into, and everything looks really cheap. I get a spoon for my ice cream and click the remote. There is a commercial on the television for Cindy Crawford’s Home Collection. I feel like Cindy is looking directly at me as we both lay on the sofa. I notice how flawless her collection is, how perfectly relaxed she is, and then I ask myself,  “Why does she have a home collection?” I want my own home collection.

I created a Summer home collection that demonstrates the harmony of a curated store display.  The items have a close relationship to one another, undisturbed and in unison. However, this is easily interrupted when an object leaves the group.  A person once told me “The painting is only yours until somebody else sees it.” The same goes for this show, only re-phrased, “The home collection is mine, until somebody takes something from it.”

‘Summer Home Collection’ is made with household trash bags and disposable plastic tablecloths, a medium that is usually used in my work. Although I have always been attracted to it’s aesthetic qualities, I feel that I should recognize that the plastic used for this installation has a much deeper voice than times before. Its semi-gloss appearance along with it’s cheaply produced and disposable history resembles the manufactured merchandise found at many retailers. Beautiful in the context of a gallery or showroom, the plastic becomes nearly trash when taken home.