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Leonard Forslund (1959)

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One of the advantages you have when you buy art books is  that you frequently encounter artists and their publications you have never heard of and Leonard Forslund was one of them, Intrigued by his “contour” paintings i learned that he has been active for quite some time now and has deservedly acquired a good reputation in the art world.

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Leonard Forslund (b. 1959) is a graduate of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen. Since his breakthrough in the mid-80’s, he has exhibited widely in Denmark, Sweden and other countries. Forslund works with a new definition of painting. His subject matter frequently includes recognizable objects or photographic material isolated against a monochromatic surface. This focus triggers the meanings. A stark contrast emerges between the recognizable, evocative element and the alienation the spectator feels when experiencing an abrupt lack of perspective and context. The artist often makes a virtue out of bringing together several perspectives – scientific, personal, spatial or historical/political – on a single plane, rendering the painting ambiguous and enabling new connections of meaning to emerge across the given elements. Forslund challenges the spectator’s self-image, in the redefinition of his or her own point of view and way of thinking. Leonard Forslund lives and work in Copenhagen.

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This 1989 publication is now available at http://www.ftn-books.com

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Olle Baertling (1911-1981), in search of the Open Form

Baertling is hardly known outside Scandinavia. He had the occasional exhibition in Switzerland at the von Barth gallery ( catalogue available at www.ftn-books.com) but that’s it, but look at auction results from the last decade of Baertling paintings and you will notice that prices are on the rise and not only because there is a raised interest in his works from Sweden. After the large Retrospective exhibition in the Moderna Museet, people began to notice his works and appreciate them.

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They recognized in them the link between Modern constructivist art and architecture. This is what i noticed myself when i first encountered a book on Baertling 2 years ago. This is not an artist for the masses, but see one of his paintings or sculptures and you certainly will be impressed. This is constructivist art in “optima forma” with a highly personal approach. Impressive and his sculptures of thin materials seems to vanish in the air. Not being there, but at the same time present.

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In memory of 
Olle Bærtling
There is one Swedish artist who has made an entirely original contribution to the art of our time, comparable with the foremost masters of modern art history, and that is Olle Bærtling. It is all too easy to use presumptuous words on a matter like this. And yet, I wish to maintain that Bærtling, with his ‘open form’ and his ‘two-dimensional sculptures’, is the only Swede-besides Viking Eggeling, whose achievement came to a stop at its very beginning-who has added something unique to the store of forms available to art. His work of the last three decades has an innovative quality and an international range which may be compared – mutatis mutandis – with the finest achievements of scholarly research. It is not by chance that his works have found a place in many universities around the world.
 
Gunnar Berefelt 
Doctor of Philosophy, Professor emeritus of the History of Art at the University of Stockholm
Here is what Baertling had to say on his approach of OPEN FORM
“Invisible wealth is to be found in open form. 

It radiates a compressed concentration of highly-charged power that is transformed with suggestive radiant force into infinite space in strong dynamics and unknown dimensions. Art at its most sublime is a hymn of praise to creation, an invisible but ever-present force. 
A sense of the infinite, a flight to an invisible destination. 
A positive change of man’s inner life, a realization of his world of ideas. An intellectualization, a visualization of the positive source of creative power, a visualization of its ethereal beauty.”

Olle Bærtling

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James Lee Byars (1932-1997) sculptor and performance artist

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James Lee Byars was both. An excellent sculptor and a performance artist in the US, much like Joseph Beuys was in Germany. They knew eachother very well and became friends in the late Seventies, resulting in a fascination correspondence between them of which part was published.

Obsessed by the idea of perfection, Byars produced a remarkable body of work that strove to give form to his search for beauty and truth. Pursuing what he called “the first totally interrogative philosophy,” he made and proposed art at scales ranging from the vastness of outer space to the microscopic level of subatomic particles, in an attempt to delineate the limits of our knowledge while enacting a desire for something more.

Here is the performance of THE PERFECT LOVE LETTER in Stockholm.

Byars was one of a kind and his art stands out from that of his contemporary artists. www.ftn-books.com is lucky to have some excellent publications on James Lee Byars.