Claus Hugo Nielsen “MOONFLOWER” at Peter Amby, Copenhagen
Claus Hugo Nielsen works with a variety of media like sculpture, reliefs, installation, painting, photography and video, and have continuously addressed the phenomena of time: His work could be something from the past, made for the future or could as well be something from the future that should appear to be something from the past. Motifs of Claus Hugo Nielsen’s work range from the classical genres of art history, such as still lifes and the artist at work, to redefined archetypical forms of abstract sculpture with biomorphic characteristics as seen in the current exhibition. The artist reinvents these motifs in different scales and materials and plays with multiple historic and visual references, translating these timeless images into a contemporary art context.
In this exhibition the transformed space of the gallery becomes the stage for the new sculptures by Claus Hugo Nielsen: seven sculptures and three reliefs, individual in form and size. The works have been installed on podia made of found, burned wood, which are spread across the gallery, uniting the space and introducing an active natural element into the white-cube environment together with the walls that have been toned grey. The gallery, which appears now to have been transformed into a time capsule, is occupied by different sculptures; some grouped and some free-standing. These unique sculptures were modeled in plaster and painted and patinated by the artist in soft pastel tones. Both the uniqueness and the smooth, hand-made character of the sculptures are emphasized by the way that the artist has chosen to patinate the works. Both the choice of coloring and the exhibition title introduces a romantic undertone to the show.
The word moonflower is used as a general term for several different types of plant species. One of these, the cereus cacti, has species that only bloom at night, and some of these only once a year, for a single night only; somehow a very poetic gesture. The name, moonflower, could also generate associations to names of hippie/new age children, Sci-Fi literature or to a flower living on the moon. An interesting concept, because how should a flower be able to live in a milieu with neither life and water nor any other sort of nutrition? In their amorphic form, Claus Hugo Nielsen’s sculptures could be the vegetation of a not yet discovered cave on the moon, and that is how they appear when staged on the podiums in the gallery as rare species displayed in a ‘wunderkammer’; They appear unearthly.
Although the exhibition seems to play with modernist means of expression like the materiality and tactility of the sculpture, contrasts of the burned wood and the sensitive patinated surfaces, the reappearing shapes and the collage and interplay of all these elements in the show brings in a subversive sentimental and popular twist characteristic of previous works by Claus Hugo Nielsen. The works on display in “MOONFLOWER” follow the series of sculptures made for Claus Hugo Nielsen’s show “Der Erfernte Verwandte” at Galerie Sabine Knust, Munich, in 2012, even though the sculptures displayed in “MOONFLOWER” has grown considerably in size.
Courtesy of Peter Amby, Copenhagen