Mattias Härenstam

Review by Anne Karin Jortveit, Klassekampen 22.07.1997

(...)"Härenstam has covered a dividing wall with white felt. The front wall, as seen from the street, consists of a Mondrian inspired "patchwork", with geometric lines and bright color fields. Stuffed felt objects (hand, trees, houses, flowers, etc.), three drawn portraits with the names Ulrike, Rainer Werner, Piet (of course Meinhof, Fassbinder - and Mondrian himself), as well as handwritten texts in English, are spread over the wall. The purism of Mondrian and his ideas of pure reality in terms of surfaces, lines and colors, are in Härenstam's parodic and concrete version broken up by various descriptive titles. Bittersweet clichés as "The Mountain of Sadness" and "The Bottomless Pit of Desperation". These are related to specific elements, so that the sentence "The Endless Source of Bitter Tears" for example, is illustrated by a "dripping flow" of felt. The intellectual construction of reality is by Härenstam infiltrated by the slight anarchistic expression of a children's' game. A dotted road "rips" obliquely through the felt and the Mondrian-lines, like a ruler-map of Africa. The naive felt-signs seem to stand for an invitation to an image of a more unruly jungle of life, which can just as easily end up as a map that will never match the terrain. The three portrait drawings of personalities, each of which stand for ideological extremes, illustrate those who experience hardship in encounter with the rest of the world.
Nearby, close to the ceiling, hovers a felt doll dressed in sneakers and training-jacket. A speech bubble says: "Look mum and dad, I finally made it". Perhaps it represents an authors' life-journey through this cultural "play-landscape", a secular and contemporary Dante. The presence of the "I" on the map, visible through the pubertal "The stains on my sheets" and the non-childish activity:" glow of my cigarette" also suggests that this is a narrative chronology which has been visualized.(...)

Excerpt of a review by Anne Karin Jortveit, published in Norwegian daily newspaper Klassekampen 22.07.1997. The full review is available as pdf-download (in Norwegian).