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Morten Straede's "Among the blacks & Tree of smoke/Aleppo" on view at Galleri Lars Olsen
Among the blacks # 6, 2009-2010. Ink on paper, 60 cm x 42 cm, framed.
COPENHAGEN.- In 1935 the French surrealist writer Raymond Roussel wrote a short story titled Parmi les Noirs (Among the Blacks). It is a strange and cryptic text constructed as chinese boxes with reminiscenses of Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness”. The text quickly changes track and becomes a tight weave of text and image descriptions.

The radically open and uncontrollable quality is that the text never concludes or reaches a climax. There is no plot, but an ingenious spiral motion which maintains a very clear space.

In two places in the short text 25 drawings are described. The picture descriptions are very schematic and show only a framework for the visual content of the drawing. The duality of strict management of the content of each drawing, and total freedom when it comes to performing the drawing, along with the spiral motion of the text from a pooltable to the darkness of Africa and back to the pooltable contains a lot of humor, ferocity and texture that made me want to perform the 25 drawings after Roussel’s descriptions.

There is a name coincidence between the writer Raymond Roussel and the american artist Raymond Pettibon. Pettibon is one of the best draughtsmen at the moment, a master of what I might call “Unplugged drawing” - drawing directly with brush and ink without using techniques such as computers or projectors. His work is another inspiration for the 25 drawings. Pettibon’s imaginative and quirky narrative drawings, like Roussel’s novel, never conclude but give glimpses into some very wild spaces.

Therefore the series is dedicated to the two Raymonds: Roussel and Pettibon.

MS september 2012

Tree of Smoke / Aleppo

"Tree of Smoke / Aleppo" is a series of 12 drawings made in November 2012 in Indian ink and inkjet printing in the format 50 x 65 cm.

The starting point of the series is the large amount of media images that describe the conflict in Syria. It is especially pictures and footage from the bombing of Aleppo, which has given impetus to the series.

I have tried to follow the pace of the film clips on TV by drawing the explosions directly from the TV screen. The speed and the enormous brutality in the images is hard to look at, and the drawings try to ”freeze” just a small part of it.

Following the quick, direct work with the Indian ink, the drawings have been added another layer of processed photographic images, printed on the original ink drawing.

The series name "Tree of Smoke" is taken from the title of a novel by the American writer Denis Johnson, who deals with another major conflict, namely the Vietnam War. The title gives hopefully an entrance to the attitude behind the drawings, and is also a description of a grenade strike's visual character.

MS November 2012



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January 1, 2013

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Morten Straede's "Among the blacks & Tree of smoke/Aleppo" on view at Galleri Lars Olsen

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