25.09 — 18.10.2015

”Coming through, the king of the road,”… the supply of anecdotal material is nearly endless to those of us who have known, and followed, Sebastian Helling for quite some time now. A self professed stray cat of sorts that somehow always manages to land on what would be his own feet, whatever acrobatics life itself wrings out of that often bruised and battered body of his. I have seen him, allegedly out of shape, run off 30 feet cliffs just to land more or less abject and abstracted aerials nicely, but painfully, in the water below. Always followed by a few rounds of incessant self-doubt and wild self-conscious satire. Then, shrug it off. It is (of course and off course (the king of the road, remember)) obviously a massive stroke of pure medial contingency that Helling now, surprisingly, all of a sudden appears on Instagram just about simultaneously with a seemingly brutal change of direction in his work as a painter. Due to mysterious circumstances, just after he returned from a three month residency at Hooper Projects in Los Angeles—an apparent hotbed for lush abstract painting— Helling was given a supply of Molotow Belton spray cans by the pallets and threw in brushes and turp for the familiar allure of the aerosol. Helling will most probably, in a mundane setting, deny his sometimes feared fame as an underground graf celebrity of yore, and that is not the point. But, then again, what about those bouts, often in triplets, of denial at dusk: forest like and “Nordic” imagery from around his studio at Frysja; or the depressive stills from the monotone gloom of Norwegian public transportation (also shot on the way home from Frysja, but it could be anywhere; bland, lifeless, and claustrophobic commute) that, following a certain rhythm, appear in his Instagram feed?)

It is as if the handling of the surface of these new canvases connects with an interface madness that inscribes and infuses this stray cat. Helling is a creature more prone to diving off cliffs than to idiomatically and literally bruise the endoskeletal skin of excessive new media caresses. There’s some kind of deep representation going on. The cheese doodles, the hints of anemone shapes and figurations still remain. The ocean spray clouds of paneled storage, energy, and scruff distribution likewise. Perhaps, the question remains as well. Put better, who’s asking, who’s answering, how does he nail it… Does he ask? Does he know or does he have to know…

- Peter J. Amdam