Ingvar Cronhammar, The Gate, foto: Poul Ib Henriksen
08.10.22 - 18.08.23
‘The Hour of the Wolf is the hour between night and dawn. It is the hour when most people die, when sleep is deepest, when nightmares are more real. It is the hour when the sleepless are haunted by their deepest fear, when ghosts and demons are most powerful.’
In October 2022, a year and a half after the artist’s death, HEART will present a condensed selection of the works that made Ingvar Cronhammar known and loved by the general public. The exhibition conjures up the black, white and red shadowland in which the ideas for these works arose. HEART owns Denmark’s largest collection of Cronhammar’s works. The vast majority of them must have been created in the distinctly Cronhammaresque dark domains. A realm that is partly a zone of creation, partly a land of psychogeographic references. The artist himself described it as a black area and a red area separated by a white border.
Inspired by Bergman, we approach Cronhammer’s world through the lens of the ‘hour of the wolf’ as a transitional phase – a liminal territory. The transition between life and death, good and evil, fear and relief. However, transition can also mean a transgression and a blurring. Nothing is quite one thing or the other. The Hour of the Wolf is the time when the day dawns and we have to face ourselves.
The inky darkness of the exhibition space is haunted by Cronhammar’s characteristic sci-fi inspired works such as Skrig i vilden nat, 1987, Udkrængningens ly,1990, Attack, 1992, and Well of Roses, 1991. Nightmares and death stalk these gloomy shadows. The white fringe of the fantasy land, the ‘lace edging’ forming the border between the black and the red, is a surreal organic landscape where animal bodies, swan wings and snake necks seem to evoke sacrificial rituals of a distant past. In the large red room, Cronhammar’s vast breakthrough work The Gate from 1988 roars in stately solitude, and the museum’s concert hall screens Cronhammar’s film Kill from 2012.
Life itself is on the line in Cronhammar’s works. These are serious matters. Despondency and pain always lurk here alongside a nagging doubt. The works create the sense of an apocalyptic state having already arrived, evoked by their insistently high-tech, science fiction feel. Whether big or small, Cronhammar’s works always possess an eerie power. The idiom is unheimlich in the Freudian sense. The works seem to belong in the dark recesses of the human psyche, but in the midst of the mechanical tenebrious realm we find relics from nature such as animal bones and bird wings.
Cronhammar himself said: ‘The works take on meaning and presence by being suspended between the two poles of life: between the fundamental beauty which causes us to experience, enraptured, the creating hand of God and, at the opposite end, the dark: pain, sombreness, melancholy. These are the two poles that form the sounding board of life.’
The works occupy a world of their own. These monumental obstacles stop us in our tracks, disrupt our daily lives and make us think beyond our everyday imaginaries.