Joakim Ojanen “Snake Pit”

The Hole

poster for Joakim Ojanen “Snake Pit”

This event has ended.

The Hole presents the first solo show in New York by Swedish artist Joakim Ojanen, “Snake Pit”. In eight ceramic sculptures and five oil paintings, Ojanen shares his unique universe of duck-billed boys, silly hats, sweaty dogs, hairy legs, soccer balls, trees, clocks, clowns and of course lots of snakes. Pushing his ceramic sculptures into larger and more complex dioramas, each artwork occupies a circular ground and is filled with action best viewed from all sides; a pizza crust topped with excitement! The oil paintings are more loose and illustrational than his past sorta fussily-lit forms, somehow even weirder and wilder than before.

Ojanen has been visiting New York from his base in Stockholm this past month, spending all of February in the gallery’s basement studio cooking up clay in his new kiln. Braving winter temperatures in his windowless bunker to make his show on-site, Ojanen has brought upstairs dynamic concoctions and magical beings; the excitement of turning earth into beautiful sculpture is part of the joy of ceramic, watching some mud take shape, become permanent, then be glazed in muted colors that cook up shiny and luminous. We hope some of the magic we have gotten to experience watching him work comes across in the exhibition he shares with you!

“Snake Pit” is his most ambitious installation yet, as he has executed a massive painted ceramic tile floor and suspended all his precious friends above it. With writhing snakes below, his eight creations sit on suspended pedestals precariously perched above the pit. More playful than terrifying, this game is rather low stakes, as the floor is happy snakes a la Snakes and Ladders; it is only we, the gallery, stressed that these heavy, delicate artworks are suspended from the ceiling!

In terms of technique, Ojanen continues to explore what started as a self-taught exploration in clay and over the years has become more sophisticated. The texture has a handmade finger-hewn lumpiness; the heads are just about as big as you can make without advanced engineering; they are inventive but not improvisational, clearly a lot of time was spent on getting just the right expression and look in the eyes for each one. The detailing is fanciful; one figure’s blue-lipped grin looks like he was drinking raspberry Slurpees and everyone has pronounced arm hair; little moments of inventiveness pop in from a dog’s tiny poo to a beer label or a Yayoi Kusama tee shirt.

Joakim Ojanen (b. 1985 Västerås, Sweden) received his BA in 2012 from Konstfack University College of Arts, Crafts and Design, and his MFA in 2014 from Konstfack University College of Arts, Crafts and Design. Since then he has exhibited widely from Stockholm to LA, Cologne and Paris, Edinburgh and Belgium. This show was generously supported by Konstnärsnämnden:



from March 01, 2019 to April 14, 2019

Opening Reception on 2019-03-01 from 18:00 to 21:00


Joakim Ojanen

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