Acrylic, paper and pencil on canvas, print on fleece blanket, TV stand
Torben Ribe’s art resembles a section of everyday life in the form of a TV, and then, again, not quite. The ‘paintings’ mounted on a TV stand appear like a cross between loose parts and abandoned bits of paper and something recalling abstract art with a clear form and colour scheme. Taken as a whole, it becomes a kind of everyday kitsch.
Ribe has produced an artistic interpretation of a job centre as a familiar institution in every local community. Small cuttings or adverts are glued on to the work, e.g. the words ‘me and my fear’. Fear of what? one might ask, but the work offers no easy answers, chiefly portraying a condition where the mental breakdown is lurking just beneath the polished surface.
Torben Ribe’s artistic practice often examines the correlation between everyday aesthetics and artworks. Ribe is interested in how painted, commercial, and private pictures are influenced by the mutual relationship that exists between them and how far this everyday influence penetrates an otherwise abstract room void of imagination.
Perhaps that is why the works are such fine portrayals of the experience of job centres up and down the country – an experience that is both concrete and real while at the same time being so utterly abstract and removed from reality.
Via the dual aesthetics, Ribe examines the clash between everyday life and art and the contrast between the ’pure’ work of art and the muddy socio-political reality in which artists work. In reality, of course, most days inside an artist’s studio, like in most other types of job, are filled with frequent interruptions and distractions, postponements, material desires, and fears of one kind or another. By including these arbitrary trivialities as a kind of force majeure, Ribe does not only manage to present the uncertain relations that exist between society and contemporary art, but also the huge contrasts in working life via, on the one hand, modern abstract pictorial forms and, on the other, the aesthetics of consumption and the insufferable amount of coincidence that life is subject to.