Ulf Rollof - Under
April 5 - August 27 2008
The character of Millesgården bears the imprint of sculptor Carl Milles vision of a museum with a sculpture park and fountains. Located on the shores of Värtan and inspired by classical ideals, the estate grew and expanded to include the artist´s private showroom and, eventually, a museum of Milles himself.
Water is an important part of Millesgården´s environment. Many of the themes of Milles sculptures have their roots in mythology, religious tales and divine myth and are full of characters that have a relationship to water: Poseidon, god of the sea; Jonah and the Whale; Susanna; Triton, the messenger of the deep; the Naiad; Solglitter, the mermaid; and others. In addition, Carl Milles depicted a fauna of small aquatic creatures such as newts, frogs and fishes in fountain groups and sculptures.
1999 saw the opening of architect Johan Celsing´s Art Gallery, which is an interior extension of the terraced park, allowing visitors to descend into the main space down a wide staircase.
Ulf Rollof´s exhibition Under makes use of this intermediary architectural feature by making the work Konstruktion [Construction], a site-specific slide, into the actual entrance. The piece is a utopian vehicle that transports us to an imaginary under-water world, or to our subconscious and a state of heightened awareness. As so often in Ulf Rollof´s work, there is a duality, a tension between vigorousness and a premonition of impending doom.
Comprising several new, large-scale works, the exhibition explores the relationship between the human physical environment and humans themselves, and it does so from another angle: a journey to a place of undercurrents, with a literary counterpart in Jules Verne´s Captain Nemo, or Little Nemo in Slumberland, Winsor McCay´s cartoon strip allegory of a little boy in the land of wonderful dreams. In fairy tales, the symbolic descent represents the path towards an encounter with one´s self, providing the potential of becoming a complete human being. Ulf Rollof guides the visitors to an arena where an encounter with the unknown brings an intimate reality into perspective.
Reminiscent of a submarine, a water creature, or a cornucopia, Konstruktion [Construction] can also be viewed as a linguistic gateway, a means of facilitating communication through a shared experience. From the unexpected possibilities are born.
In a workshop located in the Art Gallery, children and adult visitors can allow their imagination and associations to run free and create works that are incorporated into the exhibition. Their depicted thoughts and experiences enrich the exhibition as a choir of multitudinous voices, making the presence and expressions of the visitors an integral part of the artist´s project.
The sculpture Konflikt [Conflict], which is influenced by the climbing frames in Alfred Hitchcock´s The Birds, is made of rebars onto which bones cast in plaster are attached. The bisected work, a sculptural diptych, provokes associations to the Catherine wheel, rites and cult centres. Just as skulls and crossbones are a popular contemporary design feature, there is an ornamental dimension to the work, which moves from the deadly serious via exorcism and apocalypse to the wondrous. It is both beautiful and horrifying.
The appearance of the sculpture Äggbana [The Egg Track] is reminiscent of that of Konflikt [Conflict] but while the latter is based on a premonition of death and destruction, Äggbana [The Egg Track] creates a lively movement, a surprising effect with fragile eggs on a rollercoaster. As so often in Rollof´s art, however, the work is pregnant with a sense of danger and vulnerability.
The work Under has its origin in a polyurethane plastic cast of an octopus, which the artist has transformed into a three-metre high sculpture, in collaboration with students from Valand School of Fine Arts in Gothenburg.
VI is a two-minute film in which images of a noisy building site and a construction worker played by Michael Nyqvist are followed by underwater sequences shot in the sea off British Columbia. In alluring dream sequences, viewers are transported into the deep where they encounter a gigantic octopus.
The exhibition also comprises a series of watercolours, Vatten [Water], with themes from the sea.
Ulf Rollof explores the fragile balance and interaction between people, environment, technology and culture. On one level the exhibition may be seen as fairy tale-like passage beginning with the challenge of Konflikt [Conflict], with death ever-present in the form of exposed bones, via the descent and the route of Konstruktion [Construction] to the encounter with Under, an octopus turned inside out, which, in its fragile state of incompleteness, depicts the individual?s quest for answers to existential questions, which also recurs in the film VI and in Äggbana [The Egg Track]. The manifest, physical presence of Ulf Rollof´s works places the viewers in situations where they have to rely on themselves to deal with confrontations, their own movements, associations, existential experiences and their visions of the future.
Born in 1961 in Karlskrona, Sweden, Ulf Rollof lives and works in Stockholm.
Rollof was educated at the Royal University College of Fine Arts in Stockholm and was a student of Michael Schnorr, San Diego, USA and is adjunct professor at The Valand School of Fine Arts, Göteborg. He is represented in numerous public collections and has exhibited widely internationally.
The exhibition is produced by Millesgården and realised with support from the Stockholm County Council, HQ Bank, MTAB, and the Gertrude and Ivar Philipson Foundation.