Exhibitions

DEE12-BOP-install01

Dag Erik Elgn

The Balance of Painters

OSL contemporary is pleased to announce The Balance of Painters, an exhibition featuring new works by Dag Erik Elgin. The show includes 50 paintings of 40 x 30 cm format, executed in oil on canvas. Each picture displays 4 numerals arranged in vertical rows, painted using stencils, on a ground of pastels and greys.

The Balance of Painters is a continuation of Elgin’s longstanding investigations into the history and physical characteristics of painting in light of art-historical ideals and contemporary visual culture. This entails an interest for the fundamental issues of medium, such as figure versus ground, surface and stroke, as well as for aesthetic economies and reception history. Parallel with The Balance of Painters, Henie Onstad Art Center presents the project Modernism Machine, where Elgin’s investigations unfold in a larger format.

The numerical subjects of The Balance of Painters represents Roger de Piles’ assessments of the most important painters of his time, as published in his book, Cours de peinture par principes avec un balance de peintres, of 1708. Roger de Piles (1635-1709) was a painter, art critic and diplomat, responsible for acquisitions for the art collection of King Louis XIV, and an active debater in the discourse on “modern” versus “classic” qualities of painting. In Cours de peinture, de Piles conceives a quantitative system for evaluating artistic achievement, based on a scale from 0 to 18, and divided into the categories ”composition”, ”drawing”, ”colour” and ”expression”. From the original list of 57 artists evaluated by de Piles, we are today aware of de Piles ranking of 50 painters from the Renaissance and Baroque periods- from Raphael and Michelangelo to Rembrandt and Rubens

The picture series, The Balance of Painters is a painted version of de Piles’ overview. The actual selection of works is of lesser interest to Elgin, than the ambition of this material to rationalize artistic quality. De Piles’ system identifies painting as a stable and measurable occurrence, and his numerical analysis intended to disclose something both precise and generalized about artistic achievement. The Balance of Painters engages with a connection between this schematic art criticism, and the modern artistic movements of minimalism and conceptual art. The representative image is replaced by a reduced economy of the sign, and an archival aesthetic. People, events and traditional painterly qualities are exchanged for a ”neutral” representation of these same characteristics: composition/figure, ground, colour, stroke, etc., - as such Elgin’s painted numbers entails a play with the concept of figure in painting, - as in the English language, ”figure” can mean both subject and number.

All works, 2011 – 2012, Oil on canvas, 40 x 30 cm

Roger de Piles' ranking : composition, drawing, colour, expression

1 Giulio Romano 15 16 4 14

2 Titian 12 15 18 6

3 Il Domenichino 15 17 9 17

4 Il Parmigianino 10 15 6 6

5 Giovanni da Udine 10 8 16 3

6 Guido Reni x 13 9 12

7 Palma il Vecchio 5 6 16 0

8 Caracaggio 6 6 16 0

9 Guercino 18 10 10 4

10 Cavalier D’Arpino 10 10 6 2

11 Pietro Testa 11 15 0 6

12 Leonardo Da Vinci 15 16 4 14

13 Jacopo Bassano 6 8 17 0

14 Federico Zuccari 10 10 8 8

15 Lucas van Leyden 8 6 6 4

16 Charles Le Brun 16 16 8 16

17 Daniele da Volterra 12 15 5 8

18 Abraham van Diepenbeeck 11 10 14 6

19 Michelangelo 8 17 4 8

20 Federico Barocci 14 15 6 10

21 Raphael 17 18 12 18

22 Teniers 15 12 13 6

23 Gianfrancesco Penni 0 15 8 0

24 Otho Venius 13 14 10 10

25 Primaticcio 15 14 7 10

26 Jacob Jordaens 10 8 16 6

27 Giovanni Bellini 4 6 14 0

28 Holbein 9 10 16 3

29 Vanius 15 15 12 13

30 Rembrandt 15 6 17 12

31 Corregio 13 13 15 12

32 Perin del Vaga 15 16 7 6

33 Giovanni Lanfranco 14 13 10 5

34 Francesco Salviati 13 15 8 8

35 Albrecht Dürer 8 10 10 8

36 Taddeo Zuccari 13 14 10 9

37 Eustache Le Sueur 15 15 4 15

38 Sebastiano del Piombo 8 13 16 7

39 Andrea del Sarto 12 16 9 8

40 , Carracci 15 17 13 13

41 Giorgione 8 9 18 4

42 Sebastian Bourdon 10 8 8 4

43 Palma il Giovane 12 9 1 46

44 Veronese 15 10 16 3

45 Murillo 6 8 15 4

46 Tintoretto 15 14 16 4

47 Lucas Jordaens 13 12 9 6

48 Van Dyck 15 10 17 13

49 Rubens 18 13 17 17

50 Leonardo da Vinci 15 16 4 14