New silkscreens by Bjørn Båsen


Two new silkscreen prints by Bjørn Båsen will be launched on Monday, November 6th. The artworks are based on two earlier paintings and have been printed by the artist himself at the Fellesverkstedet print shop in Oslo. The technique is screen printing in stochastic rasters, a technique with small dots in several layers of colours that is usually known and used in newspaper printing.

Video: Renate Thor

The silkscreen prints "Fable (Wonderland)" and "Fable (Gingerbread)" are part of Båsen's Fable series, where he selects images in his artistry inspired by fairy tales and remake them as fine art prints. In today's society, fairy tales are often used as an escape from reality, but many of these stories were originally an attempt and an opportunity to shed light on significant issues that were otherwise left unaddressed. In this sense, fairy tales have an inherent realistic dimension.

Since the beginning of his career, Bjørn Båsen has had a pronounced inspiration and fascination with both fact and fiction. He finds inspiration in fairy tales, myths, and historical events for his artworks. There is often an intriguing duality in his artworks: works inspired by real events often appear fantastical, and works inspired by fairy tales also possess a realistic dimension.

In the two works "Fable (Wonderland)" and "Fable (Gingerbread)" Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland" and the Brothers Grimm's "Hansel and Gretel" are used as sources of inspiration. Both of these stories have held a central place in Western culture, portraying children's journeys into a fantastical, dark, and different world.

Fable (Wonderland), 2023
Silkscreen, stochastic raster
Ed. 50
63,5 x 56 cm

Båsen's Taffel paintings depict a surreal porcelain world where partially dark narratives are presented as shadow plays in the background. "Fable (Wonderland)" references Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland," a story about a young girl's journey into a confusing and illogical Wonderland. In the background of the motif, you can see an excerpt from the text:

Alice [...] found herself falling down what seemed to be a very deep well. Either the well was very deep, or she fell very slowly, for she had plenty of time as she went down to look about her […] the sides of the well […] were filled with cupboards and book-shelves.

"Alice in Wonderland" is often categorized as Dream Literature, a type of storytelling that reflects the fragmented logic found in dreams. This kind of illogical narrative is more accessible in a child's imagination and often harder to achieve in the waking state of adulthood. Båsen strives to capture this sense of fantasy and illogic in his works.

The painting "Banquet (Wonderland)" was featured in the exhibition "Tainted Tales" at the Anya Tish Gallery in Houston in 2011 and is currently part of a foreign art collection. The artwork has also been used as book cover for art historian Siri Meyers' book titled "Wonderland – About Bjørn Båsen's Art."

Fable (Gingerbread), 2023
Silkscreen, stochastic raster
Ed. 75
34 x 34 cm

The Brothers Grimm's "Hansel and Gretel" is one of the most well-known fairy tales in Western culture. As a viewer of Båsens work "Fable (Gingerbread)", you may be reminded of the joyful horror of having the tale told as a child, about the siblings' dramatic journey and triumph over evil.

Characteristic of Båsen's Chronicle paintings is the depiction of two layers of history: an often friendlier side on the front of the motif and a darker, more sinister backdrop where the puzzle pieces have seemingly fallen off. In the painting "Chronicle (Gingerbread)" and the silkscreen "Fable (Gingerbread)," we see recognizable elements from the tale on both the front and the back.

As in many of Båsen's works, references to more stories than the one playing out on the surface can be drawn. A house or a home is often associated with security, but it can also be a place of confinement, secrets, and dark undertones. "Hansel and Gretel" is a socially critical tale in which we encounter a family unable to provide for their own children, having to send them into the woods to fend for themselves.

At the same time, the motif can evoke nostalgia in the viewer, a fondness for childhood stories and the distinct capacity for imagination and empathy that childhood embodies.

The painting "Chronicle (Gingerbread)" was exhibited at the exhibition "Ouverture" at Galleri Skredsvig in Eggedal in 2019.

Bjørn Båsen (b. 1981, Eggedal, Norway) has a BA from The Arts Institute at Bournemouth and an MA from the Oslo National Academy of the Arts.

Båsen’s works invite the spectator into a whole new world. His skillful perspectives make one feel as though you could take a leap and fall into his illusion of a blissful wonderland. However, in his world of porcelain puzzles, cracks are always present and propped with references to deep and often dark matters. Båsen’s oeuvre is filled with references to mythology, past and present decadence – the fairytales of former glory meet the realism of today.

His work is included in the collection of the Astrup Fearnley Museum, KODE Art Museum, Nordnorsk Kunstmuseum, the National Museum of Decorative Arts and Design, The Grieg Art Collection, Equinor Art Programme, DNB as well as numerous private collections nationally and abroad.