Over the course of my practice, my work has focussed itself on depicting the impact humanity has on its surroundings. My aim gravitated towards trying to investigate how to utilise artworks in depiction of environmental causes, asking questions on how I can put the centre of attention on the destruction of nature for natural resources and the ineluctable damage it does to the planet.
Traditional art materials are being joined by various types of industrial materials and metals, which are applied onto the canvas in different methods and undergo an accelerated process of oxidisation by treating them with certain varieties of acids and other chemicals, as well as exposing them to the elements, transforming the surface of the work into a textural, structural and physical form, giving it a sense of urgency. By utilising chemical reactions, I invite the element of chance into the creation of my works, where at prominent parts my interference is limited within a system of carefully set restraints. The intricacy of the subject matter is reflected in the techniques used, creating a highly varied surface structure that draws the viewer in, demands a close inspection and submits one to an immersive experience, interplaying between depth and surface, the ephemeral and the concrete.
Instead of replicating actual, natural appearing landscapes, the works embrace the notion of the obstructed, the obscure, the deceptive, the ephemeral, within the context of an area of tension suspended between the abstraction of imagery and the representation of figurative subjects. Via this use of the selected materials and processes, I continue to invigorate my own practice and what I understand as the fundamentals of being an experimental painter, trying to grasp and expand upon the notion of painting as an almost sculptural entity: Inviting the viewer to contemplate on the backstory and thematic expression of the images presented, accessing our collective visual memory, contemplate the surface of the image, rather than simply looking at a picture or viewing through a frame.
The same approach, in a probably more distilled form, can be seen in the sculptural pieces from the ‘Mineral Rights’ series, in which the importance of materials becomes even more direct. The utilisation of raw and processed materials which are directly connected to the process of extracting and refining of bitumen and oil play and intrinsic part of the installations.
“Environmental scholar and activist Vandana Shiva, who wrote in 2010, “When we think of wars in our time, our mind turns to Iraq and Afghanistan. But the bigger war is the war against the planet. This war has its roots in an economy that fails to respect ecological and ethical limits - limits to inequality, limits to injustice, limits to greed and economic concentration.” Rob Nixons’s powerful notion of “slow violence” is also germane, not least because it emphasises the profoundly different effects of climate change on differently located peoples [sic] across the planet. Slow violence, he claims, is “a violence that occurs gradually and out of sight, a violence of delayed destruction that is dispersed across time and space, an attritional violence that is typically not viewed as violence as all.”
My aim is using art as a means of subversive activism, luring onlookers in with inherent beauty, establishing an emotional connection, only to use this visual level of trust to offer an additional different set of data and altering the perception towards an informed and politicised one.
Having landscape paintings that are inspired by satellite imagery, and by that already breaking from established landscape traditions, being injected with terror and carnage, thus invigorating its political potency leads to the creation of what philosopher and curator “Bruno Latour would call an ‘actant’ in the Anthropocene”: “a work about the interactions between the human, material nature, and the planet’s ecosystem that traces back to the beginnings of the industrialisation of the globe.”


Kristian Askelund (b. 1984) works predominantly in the medium of mixed media paintings, but occasionally includes video, photography and sculpture in his practice. Askelund studied Biology, moved on to Film Directing and finally Fine Arts.
His works have been exhibited in galleries and museums as part of various group exhibitions in Spain, Italy, France, the UK, Germany and in the USA among others, as well as in solo shows in Berlin, Oslo and Hamburg. Askelund's works are part of private collections in Europe, the USA and Australia.
He currently lives and works in Berlin.
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