Knut Henrik Henriksen
Knut Henrik Henriksen is known for his site-specific installations, which are often based on architecture and building traditions.
His large-scale abstract works made of horizontal panels are analog pixelations of historical paintings, which he reduces to panels painted with various colours that are matched very closely to those of the original compositions.
Knut Henriksen takes inspiration from the local tradition of Auf der Walz (journeyman years), a historic ritual that occurs at the end of the apprenticeship of young craftspeople, who travel for years offering their services in return for room and board. The carpenters of Auf der Walz practice and distinguish varied techniques and craftsmanship from different areas of the country until they achieve a comprehensive understanding. By adapting the formal language of traditional craftsmanship to the logic of contemporary production, Henriksen opens the rule-bound crafts to play and experimentation. Henriksen’s use of cheap, artificial materials become a means to draw attention to the construction of emotional meaning within architectural space.
For his presentation for Art Basel Parcours in 2021 was set in the garden of the Antikenmuseum. Henricksen presents copies of classical Roman sculptures that become protagonists in the artist’s drama of staged emotions. The artist plays with the effect inherent to the material and form of these by considering the ways in which cheap, efficient materials can evoke specific moods and emotions. The classical sculptures suggest an idyllic atmosphere that becomes enhanced by Henriksen’s sunset of Styrofoam, manipulated to appear like rustic wood – a material used to create warmth, comfort, and atmosphere. This sunset functions as a tableau involving the garden and the drama performed among the classical sculptures: a brass necklace decorating Aphrodite of Knidos; a white powdered marble structure to articulate the emotional drama enacted by Satyr and Hermaphrodite, and an old medieval structural figure, ‘der Wilder Mann’, seen in half-timbered houses. This site-specific installation considers the ways in which collective notions of romance and nostalgia manifest and how we preserve craftsmanship and historic traditions.
When Le Corbusier designed Villa Savoye (1928–31) in Poissy on the outskirts of Paris, he integrated a car into its proportions. The proposition was that a car could drive towards the villa, stop underneath the covered entrance, and then continue into the garage with the entire procedure following a curve with the same radius as the outside wall. The dimensions of this curve, which became decisive for all other proportions of the villa, were allegedly determined by the turning circle of a 1927 Citroën.
Henriksen wondered why this pivotal feature would have utilised a Citroën rather than, say, a T-Model Ford, a Cadillac, an Opel, or another car produced at the time. He decided to remake the curve with his own car, a 2006 Opel Astra, in the courtyard of his studio, and then rebuild the curve in wood (rather than glass, concrete and steel) in the 240 cm standard ceiling height of Norwegian houses. The resulting sculpture, Villa Savoye Redrawn with an Opel Astra 2006, 2012, is now permanently installed in the garden in front of the Opelvillen Rüsselsheim in Germany.
Invited in 2012 to show works in Bergen’s public space during the restoration of Bergen Kunsthall, Henriksen decided to create a monument to Erling Viksjø, who designed the city hall that dominates the city’s skyline. But after months of planning an exhibition in the space underneath Viksjø’s building, he received a phone call explaining that the concrete facade was disintegrating and the area had been closed to the public.
Identifying the potential in such failure, Henriksen decided to postpone the original project and move on with another. Based on the damaged parts of the building, which he took as a sign of architectural frustration, he made a new work in wood for sections of the Bergen City Hall facade. Each of these sculptures correspond to the height of one floor and harbours the potential to rebuild specific architectural elements from Viksjø’s building. These sculptures were then installed on the facade of Bergen Kunsthall which opposes Bergen City Hall. Titled Echoes, the exhibition thus played not only with the relationship between classical sculpture and architectural formwork, but also with the proximity of the buildings and the sculptural and architectural echo between them.
Invited to contribute to the Rupf Foundation’s collection at Kunstmuseum Bern, Henriksen responded with a proposal for a site-specific sculpture. Walking around the building with an architectural plan, he discovered that some windows appeared to be missing. Henriksen’s was informed that the windows had been covered due to issues with condensation running from the windows down into the space, becoming problematic for conservators. Henriksen thus developed a work, A story about the sun and the moon and the chipboard removed to reveal the pearls of water, 2011, which involved cutting out parts of the wall obscuring the windows. These cut-outs were then used as material for a sculpture, whose size and arrangement echoed the proportions of the exhibition space.
The piece was installed next to a work by Georges Braque, enhancing the dialogue between both artists and Braque’s consideration of line, two dimensional plane and three dimensional space, as well as the compositional development of Cubism. The invocation of the relationship between the sun and the moon in the title of Henriksen’s sculpture parallels the way his works interact with their situated specificity. As he says, ‘you can’t see the moon without the sun, and it’s the same with my sculpture: you can’t see it without the space.’
Henriksen has developed a practice concerning ideas of ‘architectural doubt’ and ‘architectural frustration’, and has used these words to define and title his works. For the exhibition Berlin North at Hamburger Bahnhof in 2004, Henriksen was given carte blanche for a site-specific sculpture.
At the time, Hamburger Bahnhof appeared a fairly neutral, renovated space, bearing few traces of its history. This made it of particular interest to Henriksen, in particular how two differing buildings from two different periods had been sutured together behind what is now the information and ticket desk. The line that marks the connection between the old Hamburger Bahnhof train station and the extension built for a transport and construction museum some sixty years later can usually be more easily felt than seen.
Henriksen’s sculpture, Architectural Doubts, 2004, raised this very chaotic line into a partition with a tongue-and-groove pinewood structure spanning wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling, blocking the originally accessible pathway between each space. The choice of material originates from Henriksen’s cultural background as well as his desire to employ the appropriate material used for building walls, creating as Henriksen calls, ‘100% realism’.
Architectural Doubts revealed the building’s classicist shape on one side and the ornamental shape on the other. The sculpture itself marks the meeting point between two different, irreconcilable architectural aesthetics while functioning as a time capsule: a visualisation of what the building has been through and the doubt that has accompanied its transformation.
In Pink Skirt, 2018 a site-specific intervention reflects on the experience of the exhibition space. A pink painted wooden skirting board reveals the odd angle of an added wall. Henriksen’s work, much like standards, is both specific and general, making the former transportable and the latter concrete. Standards and architecture codify our behaviour and reproduce forms of control. By working within the logic of a given standard or architecture, Henriksen proposes that these parameters should be continuously turned over in a critical reflection of the conditions they produce and what other conditions are possible within the limits of their own rationale.
Henriksen’s Eyeliner, 2015, is an architectonic intervention that is at once subtle and grandiose. With a simple gesture, Henriksen brings the viewer’s attention to particular spatial architecture by drawing a line around set features, such as a wall, in a colour reminiscent of makeup. The line can be repeated and transposed across different settings, delineating spaces including art fair stands—where the line brings into view the intentionally invisible structure, often inherent in environments created for showing and selling art. Eyeliner can be rearranged and has no end or beginning, occupying numerous spaces whether commercial, domestic or imagined.
The works in Henriksen’s series of paper sculptures, which the artist began in 2003, were initially conceived in reaction to working on large-scale, expensive, and often bureaucratic projects. The rolls of store-bought wallpapers, which the works are constructed from, are economical and readily available, allowing for impulsive creation while evidencing a certain nervousness, even, as Henriksen says, ‘a kind of hopelessness’ which he finds appealing. He says: ‘They frustrated me with their fragility. I do not know exactly what they are—they are “doubt”, they are nonverbal. I do not know where I’m going with them, how they should be titled, or how to preserve them.’
WALL BASED WORKS
Knut Henrik Henriksen: Far, far away he §aw §omething §himmering like Gold
Vigeland Museet, Oslo
4 March – 22 May 2022
EXHIBITIONS at Hollybush Gardens
Knut Henrik Henriksen, Lubaina Himid, Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt, Ellen Lesperance, Nancy Lupo, Manfred Pernice, Stuart Sherman, Hayley Tompkins, Amelie von Wulffen, B. Wurtz
18 November 2021 – 29 January 2022
Knut Henrik Henriksen: How I Copied Another Man’s Signature for 20 Years Without Knowing
23 November – 21 December 2018
Knut Henrik Henriksen: The story of a man who lost interest in his job and started walking in circles
23 March – 19 May 2017
I Like What I See And How It Makes Me Feel
Knut Henrik Henriksen, Alejandra Hernández, Lubaina Himid, Reto Pulfer
3 June – 9 July 2016
Meriç Algün Ringborg, Jumana Emil Abboud, Knut Henrik Henriksen, Falke Pisano, Mladen Stilinović
4 September – 3 October 2015
You Don't Need a Weatherman to Know Which Way the Wind Blows
Aaron Angell, Pauline Boudry / Renate Lorenz, Andrea Büttner, Helen Cammock, Knut Henrik Henriksen, Pierre Huyghe, Jochen Lempert, Bruno Pacheco
17 January – 22 February 2014
Knut Henrik Henriksen: A curtain of pearls, like points, defining a line and a plane, hung to define a specific volume
11 March – 17 April 2011
Knut Henrik Henriksen: Monuments of Doubt
7 September – 5 October 2008
Review: Lorck Schive Kunstpris, Trondheim Kunstmuseum
Review by Cathryn Drake, Artforum, Vol. 56 No. 7, March 2018
Review: Knut Henrik Henriksen at Hollybush Gardens, London
Review by Chris Fite-Wassilak, ArtReview, May 2017
Critic’s Guide: London
Report by Orit Gat, Frieze, 11 April 2017
Sol og måne
Interview by Kristian Skylstad, Kunstkritikk, 9 December 2016
Doubting Buildings, Building Doubts
Essay by Lars Bang Larsen, in Knut Henrik Henriksen: Architectural Doubts (Koenig Books, 2016)
Essay by Ellef Pretsaeter, in Knut Henrik Henriksen: Architectural Doubts (Koenig Books, 2016)
Made To Measure
Essay by Amy Sherlock, in Knut Henrik Henriksen: Architectural Doubts (Koenig Books, 2016)
Kuri, Henriksen and Tuttle not at Bergen Kunsthall
Review by Andreas Schlaegel, Kunstkritikk, 21 December 2012
Knut Henrik Henriksen, Standard (Oslo), Norway
Review by Lars Bang Larsen, Artforum, Vol. 45 No. 5, January 2007
Knut Henrik Henriksen, Standard (Oslo), Norway
Review by Kjetil Roed, Frieze, No. 104, January–February 2007
Knut Henrik Henriksen
Profile by Kirsty Bell, Frieze, No. 90, April 2005
A Meeting of Hans Arp and Knut Henrik Henriksen
Essay by Andrea Kroksnes
Knut Henrik Henriksen (b. 1970, Oslo; lives and works in Berlin) has participated in institutional exhibitions and produced permanent public works internationally. Selected solo exhibitions include Far, far away he §aw §omething §himmering like Gold, Vigeland Museet, Oslo (2022); The Irrational Curve, Kristiansand Kunsthall, (2018); Gone With the Wind, Trondheim Kunstmuseum, Norway, (2017); Architectural Doubts, Atelieer Felix, Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo, (2016); Auf der Walz, Kunstverein Arnsberg, Germany, (2015); Notes to Stones, Bergen Kunsthall, Norway, (2014); Villa Savoye redrawn with an Opel Astra 2006 and other works from now and then, Opelvillen, Rüsselsheim, Germany, (2013); and Echoes, Bergen Kunsthall, Norway, (2012). He has participated in Momentum, the Nordic Biennial of Contemporary Art, in 2013 and 2006, as well as significant group exhibitions at Kunsthalle Basel; South London Gallery; Museum of Fine Arts Bern, Switzerland; Drawing Room, London; and Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin. In addition, he has produced significant permanent public sculptures, including Full Circle at Kings Cross St. Pancras Station, London. In 2017 Henriksen was nominated for the Lorch Schives Art Prize.