Markus Åkesson — Let me sleep through the night

Exhibition

Painting, sculpture

Markus Åkesson
Let me sleep through the night

Past: January 13 → February 24, 2018

Swedish artist Markus Åkesson returns to the Galerie Da-End for his third solo exhibition, titled Let me sleep through the night, on the occasion of which he unveils a body of recent paintings and a new engraved glass sculpture.

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Markus Åkesson, The Unicorn Hunt II, 2017 Oil on canvas — 200 × 170 cm Courtesy of the artist & Galerie Da-End, Paris

A painter of the imaginary, Åkesson meticulously documents his compositions thanks to the photographic tool. His studio is the theater of perfectly orchestrated posing sessions during which he dresses his models up with various costumes and richly printed accessories. Thanks to these elaborate mises-en-scène, he gives to his work a visual tone and light reminiscent of cinema, and infuses his canvases with a disruptive narration, moments fixed as clueless enigmas.

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Markus Åkesson, Let me sleep through the night (Somnium), 2017 Oil on canvas — 210 × 100 cm Courtesy of the artist & Galerie Da-End, Paris

In the same surrealist vein as previous series exploring themes linked to sleep and the unconscious, Markus Åkesson invites us to dive into mysterious scenes that makes it difficult to distinguish between reality and invention of the mind. «In preparation for this exhibition, I have been inspired by internal rooms, physical and mental,» he explains. «The spaces in which we sleep and dream. It is where we store the things that we want to protect, it is where we are safe to explore the phantasmal dimension, the dreaming state. In this pursuit, I nod to William Morris and his novel, The Wood Beyond the Worlds. This, and later C.S. Lewis’ reference to Morris in his novel The Magicians Nephew, create a childlike picture of the shared fantastical space in which we travel from one reality to the next. In this mystic Wood, with its various pools, we are in a state of sleepless dreaming.»

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Markus Åkesson, I never wanted you to leave, 2016 Oil on canvas — 210 × 180 cm Courtesy of the artist & Galerie Da-End, Paris

Within portraits of a great plastic intensity, Åkesson multiplies the use of symbols and dual readings, inviting us to decypher both the tangible emotions of his charismatic characters and the stories hidden in the patterns of the fabrics and tapestries that invade the space all-over. The psychological dimension of the works is no longer only embodied by the subject but also by the decor that amplifies the impression of mental imprisonment.

Certain figures therefore appear completely concealed underneath the fabric, whereas before the artist only used masks. There is something troubling about these faceless portraits, as if the human was devoured by the decor, grabbed by the motif with his own complicity. Nevertheless the exoticism of the prints defuses the threat, as if the painter amused himself underlining the artificial and theatrical nature of the action.

  • Opening Friday, January 13, 2017 4 PM → 8 PM