In his exhibition The Work of Art and The Spiritualization of Self-empowerment at Kunsthal Aarhus, Steinar Haga Kristensen (1980, Norway) takes is his starting point in virtual 3D-renditions of works from La Période Brune/The Brown Period (2015-2018). Up through the Modernist era, several artists have had their oeuvre divided up into different periods that represent changes in their artistic style or content. The same holds true for Steinar Haga Kristensen. According to the artist, his Brown Period signifies 'a very brown time, marked by the political, moral and identity struggles in today's world'. The Brown Period is a kind of existential soup, a heroic fight, a struggle through mud and shit, fought between the individual and society with its standards of purity and cleanliness. The works have certain recurring motifs, such as the Prophête Malade/Sick Prophet, portraying the disillusioned prophet in a barren, stoic landscape.
The Brown Period is a fragmentary study of the issues facing us as individuals in an increasingly populist surge of brief answers to vast and complex questions. Haga Kristensen addresses the flip-side of idealistic movement and the increasingly faceless democratic project that characterises parts of the Twentieth Century. In Haga Kristensen's world, modernity and modernism's grand narratives and ideals for individuals and society have become a defeatist vacuum of ugliness. The Brown Period is a call out against an increasingly superficial conformity and self-absorbed culture, offering deliberations that point towards a spiritual and individual liberation (redemption) from society.
Haga Kristensen has 3D-scanned and digitised all 97 works from the period. For the exhibition The Work of Art and The Spiritualization of Self-empowerment, the artist has selected a range of subjects from the period, incorporating them into extravagant reliefs, sculptures and ornaments that form the framework of new monumental works. In many ways, the installation mimics the kind of art and monuments familiar from totalitarian states and dictatorships. The exhibition also includes a video documentary about The Brown Period, helping the audience to get to grips with the complex body of works and modes of expressions.
"There is an unfamiliar, almost sacred mood at Steinar Haga Kristensens (born 1980) exhibition at Kunsthal Aarhus. Big paintings in dark tones with relief and gold strokes, fits perfectly with the oval room with glass ceiling. All of a sudden the room reminds us of an ancient holy monastery."
Information, Maria Kjær Themsen, 30.10.2018
"Haga Kristensen's errand seems to be some kind of meta commentary to the art itself, but it's not one clear-cut universe, and the exhibition handout - a seven-page academic essay – doesn’t do much to clarify the mystique for the average visitor. Exactly how Haga Kristensen's "Brown Period" reflects contemporary challenges remains unclear and the connections seem to be a bit flimsy."
Aarhus Stifstidende, Christian Salling, 30.10.2018