Norwegian painter Fredrik Værslev made his international breakthrough in 2013. At a high pace, he exhibited his works in renowned galleries on both sides of the Atlantic, including in one of Europe’s most prestigious art institutions, the Pompideu Center in Paris. Read more about the international breakthrough for the Norwegian painter.
In 2018 and 2019, the Zak Group worked with Fredrik Værslev on the exhibition’s campaign and accompanying catalogue as part of their continuing collaboration with the Astrup Fearnley Museum in Oslo. Drawing on the modernist references of some of the artworks, and the unusual techniques of painting, Zak Group developed a visual identity that explores creative agency and creative imposition on the rational. This can be seen in the use of type and graphic gesture, colour and texture and the implication of layers.
In 2020, Fredrik Værslev (born 1979 in Moss, Norway, lives and works in Drøbak, Norway) created a new series of paintings depicting national flags. At the same time, Dieter Roelstraete undertook an investigation of vexillology through art historical, sociocultural, and philosophical lenses —the study of flags—as a way to decipher World Paintings.
According to Dieter Roelstraete: “An old Jean-Luc Godard quip comes to mind: ‘It’s not blood, it’s red,’ to which the symbolists inevitably reply: ‘It’s not red, it’s blood!’ The same symbolists who would likely exclaim, ‘It’s not a painting, it’s a flag!’ to which the formalists would object in turn: ‘It’s not a flag, it’s a painting!’ Asked differently still, the question becomes: Is it a duck, or a rabbit? Is it a—duckrabbit? (There is no such thing—or is there?)”
At leading auction houses such as Sotheby’s and Phillips, Værslev’s paintings have been sold for seven-digit figures (NOK), which makes the artist’s works some of the most expensive art made by a living Norwegian.
Værslev studied at the Staatliche Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Frankfurt and at the Malmö Art Academy, Sweden. He is the director and founder of the Landings Project Space in Vestfossen, Norway.
Nevertheless, 95 percent of his artistic activities have taken place outside Norway’s borders, and his art has always been more relevant to an international audience than a Norwegian one. Værslev navigates between different painterly traditions. His practice demonstrates an insistent focus on the painting process that demonstrates the possibilities and relevance of the medium today. His works stem from the meeting between architecture and painting, and take form as painted renderings of motifs from the artist’s daily life.
Although there are long traditions for Norwegian artists to go out and both study and work in other countries, artistic success in this country for many decades has mainly been about progress in Norway. Fredrik Værslev is one of the few Norwegian artists who breaks this tradition.
He treats his paintings as objects, often created through more or less laborious, serial, or deterministic processes where time itself, as well as various external factors, become active co-creators in the making of the piece. In several series he left his paintings outdoors for long periods of time, allowing the weather and external wear to complete them.
Værslev’s achievements spring from a not too glamorous studio in a distinctly Norwegian settlement, Vestfossen in Buskerud where he also challenges the process of painting by freely collaborating with fellow artists or making use of untraditional painting tools, such as spray cans or equipment used to paint roads and sports arenas.
His development to international fame has only just begun.
International Breakthrough For Norwegian Painter, written by Tor Kjolberg