Norwegian artist Fredrik Værslev’s painting practice is concerned with the relationship between representation, reality and reproduction. Untitled (Lumiar Cité #4) is one of eight large-format canvases originally displayed at the Lumiar Cité exhibition space at Maumaus, Lisbon, in 2014. In these works, the artist has appropriated the Lumiar Cité logo, which appears at the centre of each painting. During the exhibition, the eight works were hung in the gallery space interspersed with painted wooden fences that drew attention to the frame supports of the canvases. Highlighting the materials with which the canvases are constructed, Værslev dissolves the boundary between physical reality and artistic illusion.
The title of the exhibition at Lumiar Cité, ‘- Hey, Aunt Maggie! I wanna become a painter! - Well, you can start with painting our fence!’ suggests the playful way in which Værslev engages with the critique leveled at contemporary art – namely, that it has no application to everyday activity. The press release for the exhibition asserts that the display sought to unfold a mental space for the viewer to contemplate painting ‘understood as a medium whose projected aura suggests independence and freedom in their multiple interpretations and the eternal search by the public for the utility of art’ (http:// www.maumaus.org/Maumaus/Lumiar_Cite_-_Fredrik_ Vrslev.html [accessed 10 August 2015]).
Værslev’s interest in the materials and processes of painting runs throughout his practice, and is particularly visible in the artist’s experimental Terrazzo paintings of 2010. These canvases are meticulously composed to produce the effect of the artist’s studio floor, reflecting Værslev’s interest in the materials of the space within which the paintings were made. This fascination with the materials of artistic production has led critics to assert that ‘the message of the medium in Værslev’s work appears to be …that the medium always has a message rather than merely becoming the message itself’ (A. Andersson, Berlin Art Link, 4 April 2013: http://www.berlinartlink. com/2013/04/04/fredrik-vaerslev-the-world-is-your-oyster/ [accessed 10 August 2015]).
The use of enamel spray to recreate the logo in Untitled (Lumiar Cité #4) has an early precedent in Værslev’s practice that can be traced to youthful involvement with his local graffiti scene in Norway, where the young artist experimented with different techniques of applying industrial paints to a variety of surfaces outdoors, noting the chemical changes and effects that took place. One of the most conceptually innovative artists of his generation, Værslev’s works can be found in a number of prestigious public and private art collections, including the Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo; the Konstmuseum Malmö, Moderna Museet, Stockholm, and the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.