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Kristian Kragelund's chemical romance

Trying to compartmentalize Danish artist Kristian Kragelund’s works of art as either painting or sculpture would be unproductive, as his opus are more semantic rather than formal. Or so went a review about the young London-based artist. Rather, his style lends itself to what he describes as a paradigm that could be referred to as “staged expressionism” wherein “everything within the picture plane is created through reactions of materials and chemicals.” 

 Danish artist Kristian Kragelund and his works titled Silhouettes #1 and Silhouettes #2 (2015), acid and chemicals on canvas with homemade steel-infused paint
Kristian Kragelund makes use of ‘staged expressionism’ where art is created through reactions of materials and chemicals

 Although he considers himself a painter and calls his works as paintings, he does not use actual paint in his practice, preferring instead to use primary materials. “I coat the canvas in a homemade mixture of acrylic binder and a variety of metal powders, then I introduce an acid to the surface and thus allow oxidation, deterioration or alteration of the ‘painted’ surface,” he explains. 

Untitled I (2016), acid on canvas with metal-infused paint

“This process allows me to, on one hand, have complete control of the initial stages of the work and yet at the same time having to let go and watch how the chemical reactions occur and creates their own compositional arrangements,” he explains, adding that the approach helps him reconfigure how relationships between art and the spectator are established and sustained.  

Untitled IV (2016), acid on canvas with metal-infused paint

In a nutshell, Kragelund combines control and random reactions to produce a one-of-a-kind work of art. Control comes in his use of the homemade mixture that he spreads on the canvas, and the random part comes via the chemical reaction of the acid with the ingredients, resulting in oxidation that alters the surface of the canvas.   

He likens his technique, and to a large extent, his creations, as an attempt to examine the way people seem to continuously “apply layer after layer upon our identities in an attempt to live up to idealized versions of realities, where we are defined not by who we are but how we appear,” he observes.  

Untitled V (2016), acid on canvas with metal-infused paint

If focus is directed on those qualities that people inherently possess, then it should follow that something important and genuine can be expressed – certainly through his art (which some refuse to pin down as either painting or sculpture).  

The works exhibited for Reactive Painting form part of a bigger ongoing research project in which Kragelund, through this work with process based paintings and sculptures, “seeks to examine and trace the relevance of a Western structural dominance reflected in contemporary art and culture.”

Untitled VIII (2016), acid on canvas with metal-infused paint

Having obtained his BA Fine Arts from the Central Saint Martins in 2014, he has since exhibited his work across the UK and Europe including a solo show at the Copenhagen based gallery Tom Christoffersen and one forthcoming at Display Gallery in London. Kragelund’s works have earned for him nominations for several awards such as The NeoArt Prize in 2012, the 2013 Sixth Annual Digital Graffiti Award, and the 2015 Bloomberg New Contemporaries award.

Filipino art aficionados will have the opportunity to view the works of this young man via an exhibit dubbed Reactive Painting that runs until April 30 at the Upstairs Gallery of  Finale Art File located at Warehouse 17, La Fuerza Compound (Gate 1), 2241 Chino Roces Ave., Makati City. For information on schedules and other inquiries, contact +63(2) 813 2310 or +63(2) 812 5034.

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