Between the years 2011 – 2018, Steinar Haga Kristensen painted four separate oil paintings titled “Hidden Advocacy #01 - #04”. These paintings all depict a humanoid figure, body facing towards the interior of the image, looking over his shoulder towards the viewer, revealing to them two similar abstractions carried in his hands behind his back. In 2020 this motif appears again in the vast intaglio print edition of “Jubileum 2020”, consisting of 39 intaglio prints, all depicting this same motif, only this time the figure additionally carries 38 other motifs from the artist’s oeuvre. In 2021, this series of figures were avatarized, programmed for limited interaction and placed in a virtual and total world in the form of a video game constructed from digital reproductions of individual works of art from that same year. Since the beginning of 2022, Haga Kristensen has worked as an observational artist within this world. His observations are carried out in the form of oil paintings and Vat dye (indigosol) paintings. A selection of these reports will be disclosed at Cromwell Place. The reports carry an in-depth understanding and vital information about the world.
Inclination of Motif and the In-dept Commotion of What-ever Singularity
At the heart of Haga Kristensen’s practice lies a relentless performing of the itself and its motifs, and it is from this that every object and situation takes place across shape and form. The continuous digesting and re-digesting of motifs in Haga Kristensen’s practice, apart from committing to an exhaustive perversion of artistry in itself, can be seen as a form of self-ornamentation, a tendency which is brought to a head in the selected works for this exhibition. Paintings in frames ornamented with reliefs, sourced from previous motifs, exploring the yet debunked potentialities inherent to ornamentation as a phenomenon of civilizational, manifestation - of identification and collective imaginings and the occurrence of historical movement on even the most trivial sites.
About the artist
Steinar Haga Kristensen (born 1980 in Oslo) works with a wide range of media and formats, including painting, sculpture, video, and performance. Kristensen often composes expansive and complex installations made up of a plethora of individual works, regularly with a restricted set of themes. His practice is marked by auto-excavation, or digestion, where the artist repetitively uses his own artistic activity and motifs as a basis for new repetitions, regardless of media and theme.
His works operate in an anarchist expression that subverts traditional ideas of art, form, and meaning. Notably, his monumental fresco mural "Konsensusbilde" (consensus image), which were produced in Oslo City Hall in 2013-2015 as a backdrop for an opera composed by Haga Kristensen along with two composers. In the libretto, one is guided through an artist's efforts to complete a commission reflecting our own times, no longer concerned with that which is great or monumental, but rather focuses on the private and individual. This comprehensive work of art, which has become a permanent but hidden part of the city hall, challenges basic conventions for how art finds its place in society and the relationship between an artwork and the viewer.
Haga Kristensen's art practice delves into the complexities of spectatorship in contemporary art, exploring the multifaceted relationship between viewer and artwork. His "self-excavating" approach, demonstrated in his Retrospective: On the Un-subjectified Persona (2009), encompasses his entire oeuvre, including works predating his formal art education. Kristensen challenges traditional artistic methods and formats in projects such as The Brown Period (2013-2015) and his resent project ULTRAIDENTIFIKASJONSPAVILJONG centers around the avatarization of a humanoid figure in a digital video game world, based on his graphic series Jubileum 2020.
Steinar Haga Kristensen received his education from the National Academy of Art in Oslo and the Academie der Bilden Kunst in Vienna. He spent several years living and working in Brussels, Belgium where became founding members of the performative gallery and artist group D.O.R. In 2013, D.O.R was invited to participate in The Armory Show in New York, where they sold franchises of the gallery as an end to a two-year ongoing performance. Kristensen is on the general assembly of the artist-run institution Etablissement d'en face in Brussels.
The New York Times named Haga Kristensen, "A Rebel in Oslo’s Vibrant Arts Scene" in an exclusive feature. The article praised his paintings for their ability to "juxtapose the recognizable and the abstract in ways that invite viewers to savor their ambiguities and complexities." In 2019, the artist was commissioned to complete a site-specific Fresco mural titled "Samfunnsornament" for the University of Oslo. The 18-meter-long work welcomes viewers at the new Faculty of Law at Tullinløkka in Oslo.
In 2021, Haga Kristensen was awarded the prestigious contemporary art award Lorck Schive Kunstpris. He is scheduled to present a solo exhibition at Kunsternes Hus in Norway, one of the most important institutions for contemporary art in the country. His works are represented in permanent collections such as The National Museum, Norway, NOCO - Nordic Contemporary Art Collection, and Christen Sveaas’ collection at Kistefos Museum.
Haga Kristensen has exhibited at various prestigious institutions such as Bozar in Brussels, Belgium; Passerelle in Brest, France; The Contemporary Art Centre in Vilnius, Lithuania; Etablissement d’en face projects, La Loge, and Komplot in Brussels; WIELS Contemporary Art Centre in Brussels; Witte de With in Rotterdam, Netherlands; Museum of Contemporary Art in Roskilde, Denmark; UKS and Kunsthall Oslo in Oslo, and Den Frie in Copenhagen, Denmark.