Contemporary History Painting

Lars is currently working on an artistic research project, which investigates the concept and practice of history painting – both in terms of the established genre we learn about in art history and the contemporary discourse on the theme.

Until the last decades of the 19th century history painting was considered the most prestigious genre of art in many European countries and supported by the academies and the nation state. With modernism it fell into disrepute and virtually disappeared. Through artistic practice as well as theoretical reflection Lars asks the question what a contemporary version of history painting would look like given the context of today's society. With a point of departure in the predominant position of the photographic image in 21st century media culture, the project addresses the relation between painting and photography in connection to the politics of writing history.

During the academic year 2011-12 Lars carried out his research within the Mejan Residents Programme at the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm.
research work

“Tool-box for contemporary history painters”, Performative seminar; installation, Galleri Mejan, May 22, 2012. >Kim West interviewing Lars in the spring of 2012 (read the entire interview here, in English/Swedish p. 8-9):

Kim: “Sometimes I think that artistic research is a place which harbours a reactionary notion about the artist and what art is. The idea seems to be that research should tap into the mystery of the “ artistic ” and in some way be enriched by it. Accordingly, one creates an antiquated idea about art as a mystic activity by which one may ac­cess a specific type of truth. Your project is interesting because you ask the very real question: what is history in art, how has art dealt with history? How have artworks been used to write history, to represent history? This is a most relevant question also within scientific research.”

Lars: “My interest in the genre of history painting stems from my interest in how we depict history or relate to history via art. … It is partly about history: different strategies for working with history, specifically in relation to the tradition of history painting.”

“When I make history painting I avail myself of many different techniques. I find it interesting to transform things from one medium to another. I may begin with a photograph that I then scan and manipulate in a com­puter in order to copy it or be freely inspired by it for a film or a sculpture or something else. I like to work with different media and allow history painting to function as a point of reference or an umbrella concept.”

“A great many artists are against the idea of artistic research and claim that it is based on a misunderstanding. But in my expe­rience, research always originates in a social context that has a normative system, and therefore everything cannot be free all the time. Everything is not free in the art world either. It has an extremely efficient normative system that defines what good art is, at a specific time and in a specific place. … There is a fear among artists of formulating oneself in terms of research methods. But for me the methods are important.”

“Dad bought me souvenirs from Russia with love”, mixed media sculpture, 2012