AXEL ANTASDrawings, photographs, videos 6.8.2004 – 22.8.2004
Axel Antas (b.1976) was born and raised in Finland but has resided in London since 1997. After studies at the Nordic School of Art in Finland he enrolled in the prestigious Goldsmiths College in London, from which he graduated in 2000. His previous solo exhibition in Finland was held in 2001.
In his art, Axel Antas employs his tools - drawing, photography and video - in an uncomplicated manner. Man and nature in harmony are recurring motifs in his grey-toned pencil drawings whilst people are portrayed with their faces hidden, solitary amidst an empty white space. Minimalism is a trait characteristic of Antas´ work - he reduces in order to augment. He crystallises his images into a specific given situation and the concept arising from it - existential reflection on the mysteries of being. He has the gift of seeing great import in the smallest gesture.
In his portrait-like photographs tinted with surrealism and humour, Axel Antas depicts not the face but the persona behind the face, being and the transience of all that is, the presence and absence of man. Antas utilises the most traditional of animation techniques in his videos, scanning into a computer images drawn on paper or drawing directly onscreen images comprising only outlines in black and white with shades of light and dark. When set in motion, the chain of images blurs into a moving picture of dusk falling in a forest, a nomad wandering down his endless trail and man standing in a landscape, turning around and perceiving all that surrounds him.
However far-fetched the idea may sound, Antas´ art in all its forms - its content as well as its external appearance - inevitably reminds me of Japanese haiku poetry and Chinese landscape painting. Both art forms evoke a sense of fragility, sensitivity and simplicity - and above all, the heightened role of harmony between man and nature - and, like the work of Axel Antas, often convey an ambience of melancholy, stillness and expectation.