On May 28th, artist Kristian Von Hornsleth closed his latest exhibit with party at the Barge House in London. The exhibit, which took place May 25- 29th, featured a impressive and rather eccentric variety of works by the Danish Contemporary Artist, who greeted us as we arrived in his blue puffer jacket. His work seems to revolve primarily around subjects of sex, death and branding, as he emblazens his name over much of his art as a logo. Two men with faux machine guns stood in front of his works in the main entryway, as if we were entering the chambers of a terrorist or gangster. Immediately we are confronted with one of his piece de resistance, a Morgan automobile customised by Hornsleth into a mad contemporary art car covered in graffiti style painting with screaming colors and his logo emblazoned on the doors. Upstairs (there were 4 floors of the exhibit) we toured through his various rooms, each one a capsule into another part of the madness of Hornsleth’s creative mind. Paintings featuring reworked celebrity images from magazine imagery were juxtaposed with a porn movie where the actors could only say “Hornsleth”. A series of photographs of a re-enacted high school massacre went in for shock value with their realism, and the images of Africans who were willing to change their name to “Hornsleth” in exchange for livestock only made one wonder how far he could possibly push the Hornsleth branding. Upstairs on the top floor a band played while hipsters mingled with the artist and a rather eclectic crowd of new Hornsleth fans.
According to Wolf-Günter Thiel, art historian and publisher, “There seems to be at least two contradicting approaches in the work of Hornsleth. Firstly his confrontational navigation through contemporary culture built on his own philosophy which he calls Futilism, making one capable of using futility as such in a most constructive way. Secondly his manic insisting of developing a symbolic representation of his own name, ‘Hornsleth’, emblazoned across countless works he’s produced that now reach out all over Denmark and around the world. The word is ‘Hornsleth’, questioning the beauty of manipulation in an often countercultural manner and further questioning if the publicity in itself is more important than the products it endorses, now spreading from branding Lamborghini’s to sculptures, provocative photographs, and people themselves.”
More about the Hornsleth Projects:
THE UGANDA VILLAGE PROJECT
In 2006 Hornsleth re-branded the poor village of Buteyonegra in Uganda, Africa. Villagers were offered a pig or a goat if they would change their names to Hornsleth. They would and they did. What is charity and what is free trade? The theme behind this audacious project, which sparked a critically acclaimed stageplay in Copenhagen called “Kill Hornsleth”, is: “We want to help you, but we want to own you.”
DEEP STORAGE PROJECT
Want to live forever, somewhere really cool? Hornsleth’s Deep Storage project is arguably the most unusual art project ever undertaken. A beautiful 8 x 8 x 8 m steel star sculpture containing your (?) DNA from human blood and hair samples will be lowered into the Pacific Ocean, at one of the deepest spots on the Earth’s surface. Another six similar sister sculptures will be placed as landmarks on different continents.
HIGH SCHOOL MASSACRE
A large group of 14 – year – old high school pupils took part in this art performance centering on a nightmare school shooting incident. “I was surprised by how enthusiastically the kids took to the theme and started ‘gunning’ each other down while some took pictures of the action” says Hornsleth. “It made a some of the teachers cry.” The big question is, where do these nice middleclass children from safe neighbourhoods learn such skills to carry out this performance so vividly and with such great detail?
MORGAN CAR PROJECT
Why do cars have to be black in Kensington? Kristian von Hornsleth teamed up with quintessentially British motoring company Morgan to produce the instantly recognisable Hornsleth Morgan car. The company invited Hornsleth to paint an exclusive series of its 4/4 sport cars, the first of which was painted live on a spectacular Morgan exhibition lorry at the lord Mayor’s Parade London 2010. Says Hornsleth: “The Morgan Hornsleth car is a tribute to the sensitive big noise of present day freedom.”
HORNSLETH ARMS INVESTMENT
Always pushing the boundaries of taste and morality, Hornsleth is saluting the wars being fought on different continents in his very own, unique way. He has now set up HAIC, the Hornsleth Arms Investment Corporation and you can own a 1% share in his weapons enterprise – a legally registered company – by buying one of 100 paintings produced as stock. “We all own a share of the world’s evil,” Hornsleth says.
THE ROLEX F.Y.A.L. PROJECT
The ‘Rolex Fuck You Art Lovers’ project is an ongoing series of ‘artistic upgrades’ of one of the world’s most sought-after timepieces. Since 1997 Hornsleth has turned 16 Rolexes into Hornsleth art pieces. Collectors have handed over their Rolex watch for Hornsleth to add his art, an engraved stamp of approval. Each watch is numbered and the series will end at 99, thus creating an exclusive club of watch lovers who all own a piece of Hornsleth history. Each watch is photographed and turned into limited edition, framed colour pictures.
Hornsleth Cemented his rock star status among collectors with his trademark psycho pop collage portrait paintings incorporating his signature and adding his ironic, socio critical one –liners such as: “Don’t Worry This Is Art,” “Fuck You Art Lovers”, “Worls Peace”, “Go To School”, “Save Yourself”,”Its OK To Be Lonely”, “Super Panic”, “Rape Kill Steal Burn”, “Great Love Will Come Again”.
Look out for Hornsleth’s closing party at the GGGallery this Saturday, 11th June, from 6:30pm
15B Blenheim Crescent
W11 2EE London
Indira Cesarine for XXXX Magazine