Viktor Kopp’s work is both dry and whimsical, playing with notions of illusion in painting and showing a deep focus on the formal logic of perspective and geometric abstraction. His latest exhibition features a concise group of new works in which he literally blurs the line between abstract and representational painting. Playing with the traditional notion of the painting as window, Kopp’s latest work manifests questions of perspective and illusion as he pushes through and around the confines of the canvas’ perimeter and beyond the boundaries of the painting’s motif.
For many years Kopp’s motifs have been central to his painting: a repeated cast of lushly painted chocolate squares and their analogous paneled grey doors. These subjects – rectangles within rectangles – over time began to shift within their frame, first along a two-dimensional flat plane. Cropped chocolate grids terminated abruptly at the painting’s edge, toying with the inherent artificiality of representation. Rotated doors presented subjects receding in the space of invented dimensionality, opening to nowhere, or shifted along the picture plane revealing a strange blank and gaping backdrop. In a number of works the representational motif was disregarded in favor of a grey scale composition somewhere between complex cloud-scape and crumbling stoney edifice. This seemingly gestural abstraction was in fact an intricately painted stand-in for another ‘motif’, an utterly ‘Kopp’ motif, between landscape and pure anthology of texture. Some of these works featured dark grey windows painted in perspective, piercing the grey scale plane. Two works featured the artist’s initials, ‘VK’, as if built in three-dimensions, sitting in a dense forest of Kopp’s painterly flourish.
Kopp’s painting asks the question of what lies behind the illusionistic space of the painting, pointing to the inherent flatness of the work and the contrivance of depicting space within. The works, whether more representational or more abstract, share a pathos of isolation, as if poised at the edge of logic and reason. His work for this exhibition features the grey Kopp motif: a platonic form of a painterly motif. In these paintings Kopp breaks with both flatness and representation in a space of three-dimensional illusion, one without gravity, shadow or dimension. A flat tablet of grey abstraction turns and floats within a dense white blankness of a monochromatic yet intricately painted void. This work shows abstraction as Kopp’s motif and subject, peeling away to reveal only more abstraction. In slivers and rotated planes, the abstract gesture takes center stage, with a fuzzed line between grey scale planes of wispy brushwork and thickly applied white ground. Abstract painting itself, separated from the tensions of representation and illusion, is the focus of these newest works, where motif and ground begin to truly merge.
Viktor Kopp (b. 1971, Stockholm, Sweden) completed studies in fine art in Malmö, Gothenberg and Helsinki. Selected solo exhibitions include Ribordy Contemporary, Geneva; Galleri Magnus Åklundh, Malmö; Konsthallen Hamnmagasinet, Varberg. Group exhibitions include: Moderna Exhibition, Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Edstranska, Malmö Art Academy, Malmö; ‘The Art of Cooking;, cur. Hanne Mugaas, Royal/T, Culver City CA; ‘Underemployed’, cur: Josh Blackwell, Salon Zurcher, New York NY; Abstract and Traces, Ribordy Contemporary, Geneva; ‘Solid-State’, Bureau, New York NY; Ystad Konstmuseum, Ystad. He teaches painting at the Malmö Art Academy and lives and works in Stockholm.