Allen Grubesic — Staring at the sun


Dante’s Purgatorio: a mountain divided into terraces of suffering and spiritual growth that lead up to its final destination, the Earthly Paradise. In this allegory Dante describes a climb and illuminates the nature of sin through examples of vice and virtue. For him all sin arises from love. The first three terraces consist of sins that are caused by the perversion of love through the harm of others. Pride is the first of these perversions.

There is a play with references and mythology at the center of Allen Grubesic’s first solo exhibition, Staring At The Sun, at Gallery Niklas Belenius. One of the works has the same title as the exhibition and consists of a series of brass hooks. Brass is a dubious and paradoxical gold-like metal, which has been used since prehistoric times. It has become a symbol of class for interior design connected to the Swedish bourgeoisie. Alternatively, brass is an icon of tackiness. Here it excels and signifies multiple layers of dreams, goals and hope. The title is a reference to both ambition and hubris. Icarus’ over-confidence made him the sun, dreaming and planning, while being blinded by it: unaware of the consequences.

Just like the uncertainty of Purgatorio, as a middle-point between Heaven and Hell, Allen Grubesic creates his own state of ambiguity. There are paradoxical sets of feelings being channeled: fear and courage, apathy and excitement, hopelessness and hope, failure and success, melancholy and hysteria. Pride stands out, being at the core of them all. Dante describes the first terrace as a place where proud souls purge their sin by being surrounded by beautiful sculptures expressing humility. Grubesic similarly forces us into contemplation by seeing ourselves in our ownsin when he surrounds us with it, bringing us into a state of self-confrontation.

Allen Grubesic (b. 1974) graduated from The Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm in 2003. He has exhibited his work at Kunstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin, Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Kiasma in Helsinki, Bibliotheca Alexandria in Egypt, Nationalmuseum in Stockholm, Tensta Konsthall in Stockholm, Lautom in Oslo, Laviola Banks Gallery in New York, Maria Stenfors Gallery in London; to name a few. Solo shows include Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb, Natalia Goldin Gallery in Stockholm, Alida Ivanov Gallery in Stockholm, Charles Bank Gallery in New York.

/Alida Ivanov