Lars Arrhenius

October 28 – December 23, 2004

Press Release

Lars Arrhenius is an artist based in Stockholm whose serial, graphic installations and animations merge a diagrammatic narrative with a social narrative. This exhibition, his first in the United States, will include several large works where small cibachrome prints mounted on panels are placed in puzzle or map-like configurations, as well as a new digital animation.

Arrhenius often uses pictographs, the kind of stereotypical figures and universal symbols seen on public information signs. A direct use of media, and a judicious blend of austerity and irony are typical of his work. The digital characters in his animation, The Street, create an exaggerated view of daily routines, where each individual contributes to keep things going like an anonymous cog in the machine of life. Arrhenius' hermetic but familiar world is propelled by a momentum of the mundane that insistently plods onward. In another work entitled Habitat, in which a five-floor house is represented by the stacked rows of 43 C-prints, we view a sequence in the lives of 10 people breaking down the archetypes and representing the possibility of personal choice and eccentricity.

By using impersonal, urban symbols to mirror our usually unexamined habits, Arrhenius draws attention to the fact that the world goes on, whether we participate in it or not. Following the logic of games or hypertext, some pieces offer multiple paths and outcomes depending on what chain of events one follows, as is illustrated in the branch-like circuitry of his The Man Without One Way.


Reminiscent of the work by his late fellow countryman and proto-Pop master, Öyvind Fahlström, the world map of Arrhenius' WWW is overlaid by a cast of players who are interconnected through a cacophony of cause and effect type dramas. Arrhenius' humorous use of onomatopoeia creates a chain of events that link the sounds we read to a series of actions and consequences. In another work titled A-Z, Arrhenius superimposed a progression of encircled and intertwined stories over an enlargement of the classic London street guide.

Whether looking at a street, an apartment building, a city, or pulling further back, Arrhenius focuses on the endless activities of urban life and offers a sociological view of the complexity and repetition of human behavior. Like a modern-day Bruegel, Arrhenius examines the tragi-comic in the world around him.

Lars Arrhenius is represented in the collections of the Moderna Museet and Nationalmuseum in Stockholm, Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam and Malmö Konstmuseum.