Two-person show: Nick Bastis, Henrik Olai Kaarstein

16 November–20 December 2014

Henrik Olai Kaarstein,  Pride , two-person show at Catherine Bastide gallery, Brussels, 2014, exhibition view

Henrik Olai Kaarstein, Pride, two-person show at Catherine Bastide gallery, Brussels, 2014, exhibition view



(“Lady Pride, national pride, gay pride, parental pride, maternal pride, artistic pride, female pride, classless pride, pride lecture, we are proud, bongo pride, cock pride, pride tears, tears of pride, proud shit, proud abstraction, proud patience, proud future, Europride, pink pride, proud blue, red pride, proud black, orange pride, proud violet, purple pride, proud white, yellow pride, pride grey, proud flower, proud rose, proud sex, good pride, less good pride, adequate pride, proud Magdalene of Magdala, proud in Persia, proud at home, proud in water, proud with a gun”)

- Henrik Olai Kaarstein

Henrik Olai Kaarstein’s work is an exploration of the domestic, the intimate and the private inits materials, its rituals and its aspirations. It is often made out of found objects, many of them functioning as a sort of personal image bank and having a sentimental as well as an aesthetic value: a sleeping bag, an office table, a fake rose, a tissue paper box, some underwear packaging, some cardboard sheets, and so forth. His paintings are not painted on conventional canvases, as he uses various objects and materials soaked in paint or stained by it, rather than the paint being deposited on the surface of the canvas. Characters, symbolic systems and recurring imagery are used such as a swimming/drowning divas, some birds, roses, torsos, objectified men, and even some terrorists,  all brought into play in colorful abstractions. Kaarstein relies on these various sources to paint even though he works in a intuitive way, allowing mistakes made during the process to remain or evento be highlighted, letting the process of soaking his supports sometimes damage the surface if needs be, to embrace, “the murky line between creation and destruction”. The constant feed of news, information and disinformation is source of excitement and fascination for Kaarstein, who equates the confusion delivered by mass media each time a sensational situation arises with somethinghe wants to project in his own art, such as in “Dzhokhar Rose”, based on the press images of the surviving sibling of the Boston Marathon Bombers.

Henrik Olai Kaarstein was born in Oslo, Norway in 1989. He has attended the Nordland College of Art and Film, Kabelvåg, Norway and is currently enrolled at the Staatliche Hochschule für Bildende Künste, Städelschule, Frankfurt am Main. He has exhibited in Milan, Oslo, Naples, London, Athens and Rome. 

Nick Bastis, Left: Elbows drawings (Toast), Right: Elbows drawings (Shoes) Acrylic on graph paper, pencil and archival prints 2014, 66 x 55 cm

Nick Bastis, Left: Elbows drawings (Toast), Right: Elbows drawings (Shoes)
Acrylic on graph paper, pencil and archival prints 2014, 66 x 55 cm


Making Friends

On this particular morning, Sam’s internet was down, so he went out for a stroll along the river. He looked over to the other side and thought he saw his friend Mose. He couldn’t be sure from that distance – it could have been someone else with a similar stride and the same hair-do as Mose. Sam decided to take the bridge across the river and see whether it was Mose.

Mose was walking on the other side of the river. As he looked across the river, he thought he saw his good friend Sam. He was almost sure it was Sam, but at the same time, he knew it could have been someone who looked just like Sam with a comparable puffy jacket. He decided to take the bridge across the river to see if it was Sam.  

On the bridge, it turned out that it was neither one of them.

- As told by Gijs Milius

In Heinrich von Kleist story “On The Marionette Theater”, as recalled by Nick Bastis, some-one tries to convince a friend that puppets have more grace than human dancers, as the puppets lack self-awareness, ergo is devoid of ego, and of vanity. And so Bastis makes drawings by using “the dumbest part of the body”, his elbow, evacuating all sort of visible, individual reference to the self, while the drawings are put in relation to various images and texts that function as investigative props but not as explanatory tools. He instigates collabo-rations between himself, some snails, and designer gallery chairs. The custom chair covers are marked with the slime excreted by the snails that don’t know they’re making art while scrolling, shitting, and sleeping, contingent to pure randomness yet all the same incorpo-rated in the mechanism of art production. A looping film depicts three Lithuanian graphic designers shooting guns on their lunch break, Bastis having only interjected by asking two of them to wear paper masks in the image of the third.

Rather than expressing something in particular, the work is more concerned with the mech-anisms of expression itself and its contingencies, produced through minor interjections in already occurring processes, flirting with an evacuation of the ego. Well, except for the sculpture of the guy with his penis looped into his own anus. That is an autonomous piece.

Bastis reminds us that if the puppet can be gracious in itself owing to its apparent absence of self-awareness, there is still a puppeteer who activates and actions their creature. The pu-peteer is a sort of God who is perpetually, autonomously fucking itself, its penis looped into its anus, barring any other sort of element or outside information to penetrate it.

Nick Bastis (MFA, 2013, University of Chicago), was born in New York in 1985. Currently based between Brussels, BE and Vilnius, LT. Works recently shown at the Museum of Con-temporary Photography (Chicago, US), Fluxia (Milan, IT) and Objectif (Antwerp, BE), up-coming shows at Regards (Chicago, US), Podium (Olso, NO), Kunsthalle Athena (Athens, GR), Chapter NY (New York City, US).


Exhibition views