In the exhibition Xerox Dust at Wadström Tönnheim Gallery, Fredrik Åkum exhibits new works that investigate repetitions within painting with an abstract approach to the copying machine. Xerox Dust is Åkum’s first solo exhibition in Malmö.
The exhibition’s title, Xerox Dust, refers to the series of oil paintings that Fredrik Åkum has been working with for several years, based on images of enlarged dust from various copying machine’s glass surfaces. A sort of mapping of nothing. There is a conscious sloppiness in the exhibition title and the series Xerox Dust, borrowed from Seth Seiglaub and John W. Wendler’s untitled exhibition in book form, from 1968, most known as “The Xerox Book.” In which seven artists, including Sol LeWitt and Robert Morris, had to work with the premisses of 25 photocopied A4 pages each. Like this approach, copying machines have been a recurring tool for Åkum, where he uses restrictions, reduces, reproduces and uses previous works to investigate his own paintings. An approach that has been gained through his parallel interest of publishing fanzines and artist books.
Beside the Xerox Dust-paintings, an untitled series of paintings is exhibited, that has a rather abstract quality, with references or parts of previous paintings. These works also contain traces of other art historically works that were important to Åkum, applied as white-line-drawings-compositions, which has been miss-aligned and spread over the paintings – put on as a last attempt to open up, confuse or avoid giving an straight explanation to the motif.
Fredrik Åkum (b. 1987) lives and works in Gothenburg, Sweden. His work is represented in European, Asian and American collections and in several public places in Sweden. During the past year, he has been exhibiting in Stockholm, Malmö, Copenhagen, New York, Paris, and Gothenburg. In 2016, Fredrik Åkum was awarded Sten A Olsson’s Cultural Grant with the motivation “For a varied artistry, which with mysterious luster reveals the contours of existence.” The scholarship included an exhibition at the Gothenburg Art Museum (2016-2017). He also received the Adlerbertska Cultural Grant at the Gothenburg City Museum earlier that year. Fredrik Åkum is represented by Gallery Steinsland Berliner, Stockholm.
Fredrik, tell us about your current exhibition at the Wadström Tönnheim Gallery? How long did the preparation take?
The exhibition Xerox Dust at Wadström Tönnheim consists of various works made in the autumn/winter of 2017. Except for the two Xerox Dust-paintings which were previously shown at Raum Vollreinigung, Berlin (Germany), and Nevven Gallery, Gothenburg (Sweden), last summer. All of them are smaller works that I’ve done between the works I made for the recent exhibition Flatbed in Gothenburg, at the artist-run art space 3:e Våningen, which was an exhibition with almost a year of a process, give or take.
Recently, you often have exhibitions. Is it a success at this stage?
I’ve had a great opportunity to exhibit, especially now during the spring of 2018, which will probably consist of six solo exhibitions. I kind of like the pace at the moment, there’s a lot of great works being made when there’s not too much time to over-think them. A couple of these exhibitions, like Xerox Dust at Wadström Tönnheim Gallery in Malmö, will feature smaller-sized works, which feels quite new and exciting to work with. I’ve worked a lot with larger scale paintings and installations, but there is something else to dedicate a whole room for just a couple of smaller works.
There are leaves on all your paintings. Why did you choose this kind of plants?
Well, in one way maybe it’s not plants anymore. My process is much about repetition, repeating excisions of previous paintings and works, to work with various qualities of abstractions and I guess I’m trying to leave the directly figurative somehow. I kind of think of my painting process as a bad copying machine, where for each stage you lose some information about the previous stage but gain more and more autonomy.
And sure, at a starting point some of the paintings, were somehow influenced by plants or some kind of botanic.
Tell us about the moment when you realized that you would like to make art.
I don’t know if there was a specific moment, not one I can remember. But to paint and draw has always been an important part of my life, and I was always encouraged to continue with it, which I’m grateful for.
What plans do you have for the current year?
Now there’s an upcoming solo exhibition at Tungsten Gallery in London coming up, alongside with a solo exhibition in Leipzig at Bistro21, which I’m working on at the moment. These two exhibitions will be followed with at least two more exhibitions (TBA), so there will be a lot of time in the studio.