Kjell Varvin: Welded Iron & Other Drawings, Galleri Erik Steen, Oslo, Norway



Installation view

March 19 – May 3, 2009

Kjell Varvin (born 1939) creates both drawings and paintings, but is best known for his sculptures and installations. This exhibition focuses on a large selection of sculptures made of welded steel and produced over the last fifteen years. Together with the sculptures, a number of drawings on veneer will be on show and the exhibition thereby comprises the largest presentation of Varvin’s work so far.

Kjell Varvin’s oeuvre has its roots in Minimalism and the artist himself emphasises how much artists such as Donald Judd, Brice Marden and Sol LeWitt have influenced him (Varvin also later worked as Lewitt’s assistant). However, Varvin uses a method that has more in common with improvisation and playfulness than with stringent planning and perfection. He allows random chance, spontaneous ideas and accidents to be a part of his works, which he prefers to call “proposals” rather than “statements”. This process results in drawings and sculptures that have retained elements of imperfection and therefore also their human quality.

At first sight, the sculptures may resemble classical, modernist works, but since their titles and other components refer to observations of everyday objects (as, for example, fire escapes in New York, a pinball machine or a dining table), they appear on closer examination as up-to-date works with a referential diversity that reminds us first and foremost of far younger, postmodernist artists. The exhibition has a fresh and topical quality, though consisting of works by an artist who made his debut in 1964.

Throughout his career, Kjell Varvin has exhibited extensively both in Norway and abroad. In recent years, he has participated at major exhibitions such as the Sculpture Biennial at the Vigeland Museum and the Drawing Biennial at the Artists’ House in Oslo and also at joint exhibitions such as “Geometry as Image” at the Robert Miller Gallery in New York and “Go back to Start” and 0047 (all held in 2008). Varvin’s last solo exhibition in Oslo was held at The Drawing Center of Norway in 2007.