Artist talk | Totem
News/February 9, 2023
Join us for an artist talk with Anders von Greffelstejn in his current exhibition “Totem” at Arden Asbæk Gallery on February 18 at 15:00.
Scandinavian animism is the starting point for Anders von Greffelstejn’s first solo exhibition. Animism is the idea that animals, plants and other natural phenomena contain a spirit or spiritual essence. In the exhibition, owls, toads, and others appear as large watercolor paintings, which with their wealth of detail stand in immediate contrast to the medium.
In Western tradition, watercolor painting has been considered a sketching tool used by visual artists as a sketch for the final work, typically an oil painting, but watercolor was also popular among topographers, architects, and botanists.
Anders von Greffelstejn himself grew up with watercolor, which was both affordable and accessible, but also challenging – even if it may seem old-fashioned to some. Watercolor is Anders von Greffelstejn’s primary medium, and as an artist he is driven by breaking with our expectations of it. The watercolor painting does not have to be a sketch but can be a contemporary medium with its own artistic integrity, which belongs as much in the gallery as acrylic or oil paintings.
What the works in the exhibition have in common is that they should not be seen as a mapping of animism, but as an evocative rendering of some of the animistic characters and forces that are linked to the Nordic witch in particular. Both witchcraft and animism are based on an idea of connectedness, kinship and mutual respect between man and nature.
This world view is not only relevant in relation to neo-pagan, new age and climate activist movements today. Witchcraft also shares a common narrative with queer culture, a narrative of oppression and persecution of those who lie outside the ‘acceptable’ binary understanding of the world. Because those who were accused of witchcraft were often those who did not fit within society’s norms, including LGBTIQ+ people and single women who were ostracized by society.
The exhibition’s cultivation of the occult is thus not only a spiritual practice based on our cultural connection to nature, but also an investigation of the outcast – through both motif and medium.