Mona Broschár & Heidi Ukkonen: Only Fans

25. Apr '241. Jun '24
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Open: Wednesday—Saturday, 14:00—18:00
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Broschár does Ukkonen, and Ukkonen does Broschár. For this unusual joint exhibition two painters are inspired by, influenced by, steal, borrow, copy, reinterpret, recreate, appropriate and pay homage to each other’s work. While remaining true to their own approach in terms of artistic process, techniques and style, the motif and composition reference existing works by the other. To rule out any influence, the paintings selected will remain secret until the opening.

Mona Broschár and Heidi Ukkonen knew of each other long before their first encounter in Paris in 2021. Both artists had been admiring their respective works from afar, following each other’s social media accounts. The title Only Fans is nod to this virtual courtship, a voyeuristic exchange that takes place without any physical contact. But the reference also applies to the reciprocal infusement – each artist taking possession of a piece of the other, deepening their connection and understanding of each other in the process.

Despite the obvious differences, there is a unifying quality to their work. Firstly, the humor: a love of the absurd, the joy of the clashing the seemingly incompatible. Then the almost intrusive materiality of things, the way their surfaces thrust outwards, imposing themselves on the observer. Lastly, a predilection for the abysses of consumer culture, the seductiveness of objects – candy-coloured, female-coded and fashionable. Maybe it is best described as a vibe, rather than an aesthetic: a dreamy abundance, that appears quirky and girlish in one moment, and monstrous and obscene in the next.

Like in any good relationship, both artists have characteristics the other is lacking. Mona Broschár, who studied painting and printmaking at the Academy of Visual Arts in Leipzig and the Camberwell College of Arts in London, works thoughtfully and precise. Each canvas must be perfectly measured, her compositions are painstakingly created with layers upon layers of oil-paint, leaving little room for alterations or last-minute decisions. Broschár’s painting appear corporeal, almost like sculptures, while Ukkonen’s work can be compared to the expressionism of Edvard Munch. Her process is impulsive and immediate. She prefers fast-drying acrylic paint, but also works with egg tempera and pigments. Originally born in Sweden, Ukkonen has since relocated to Antwerp, where she studied at the Royal Academy of Fine Art. The city’s deep connection to the glamorous world of high fashion shines through in the fantastic garments of her figures.

In the end, Broschár’s lush still life’s and Ukkonen’s elegant daydreamers represent two sides of the same coin: chaos and order as escape strategies in a disturbing present. The question of the right measure arises in many forms. Do the glittering offerings of consumer culture give cause for joy or rather despair? When will we have had enough? For the artists, the challenge lies in making the other’s work distinctly their own, while neither compromising their unique vision, nor erasing its origins.

Text by Diana Weis.

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