June – October 2023, Paléhaven, Christian Frederiks plass 2 (Oslo Central Station)
We know the patriarch as a man who leads and protects a family, a church, or a state. The title points to honour, strength, and power, and denotes a certain masculine ideal. Yet something hidden rests in Mattias Härenstam's stone sculptures, threatening the limits of the self. Through cracks in the surface and in fracturing facades, an inner core pulsates within the hard stone. By drawing on gender ideals and themes of protection and vulnerability, the artworks explore that which protects and that which is protected, and the ambiguities in this.
Perhaps a dormant, potent chaos lies beneath the surface in Härenstam’s sculptures? Something half visible, nearly absent; something delicate against the coarse, uneven rock; surfaces where the weaknesses, lies and, secrets no longer can remain hidden?
The Breaking Point consists of the two sculptures Patriarch (2016) and Protected (2020). Through inverting and complicating the male figure – by the soft and formless which leaks and flows out of cracks and holes – Härenstam’s sculptures oppose a stable interpretation of gender categories. Among men cast in bronze and stone, equestrian or elevated on plinths, the sculptures in Paléhaven constitute a silent confrontation with an archaic male ideal and exaltation of men in public space.
Curator and producer: Kulturbyrået Mesén
Mattias Härenstam (b. 1971) lives and works in Oslo. He is educated from Bergen Academy of Art and Design, working with sculpture, graphic art, and video. He has an extensive exhibition history both at home and abroad, and has been purchased by the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Bergen Art Museum and Stavanger Art Museum among others. He has also carried out a number of works in public space, including the large wooden sculptures in the Museum of Natural History in Bergen. 17th of June, he will open a larger permanent sculptural installation on Langøyene with the title "Alt som før var dødt".