The sculptural universe of Norwegian artist Fredrik Raddum is characterized by a unique combination of humor and somberness, irony and social critique, provocativeness and philosophical insight. The vast majority of works in Raddum’s longstanding production make use of surprise as the primary tool: At an instant, you are both amazed and puzzled. However, the first impression is always followed by the need to look closer and in doing so, the viewer soon realizes that each work has much more than mere shock and confusion to offer.
Raddum’s preferred subject is the frailty of the psyche of modern man as well as his search for identity and meaning in a frantic, fragmented and often incomprehensible now. His sculptures can thus be understood as physical manifestations of our common feelings, thoughts and shifting states of mind. Essentially, Fredrik Raddum is a tireless diagnostician of society, who delivers his analysis in bronze, plastic, colored lights, stainless steel and pastel colors.
Raddum’s new exhibition, JOY OF SUBLIMATION, is no exception. In his newest works, the sculptor delves into the psychological concept of sublimation, a central theory of the Freudian school, which explains how the enlightened, civilized man channels his repressed, sexual energy towards more “noble” pursuits; especially scientific work, religion or the arts. The Freudian hypothesis asserts that the process of sublimation, where desires and perversities are transformed into creativity and work ethics, can prove beneficial to the individual, because all the bottled-up sexual energy is realized through ascetic discipline and thus serves to strengthen the self-esteem of the Id.
In addition to sublimation, Raddum addresses three other central concepts, which he - along with the former - calls the four “repression mechanisms” of existentialism: distraction, isolation and anchoring. On these four concepts, the artist says the following:
“How does one accept that life is without meaning? We demand that the world carries meaning, however, this demand is met with silence from a world that does not depend on us. In the gap between Man’s need for meaning and life’s meaninglessness, absurdity emerges. Absurdity feeds off this gap. We attempt to fill the gap by artificially reducing the contents of consciousness. - Isolation: We work our lives away so that reflection will never catch up with us - Distraction: Through a continuous flood of external impressions, a coherent train of thought is made impossible - Anchoring: Find a goal, save the world, have faith in God - Sublimation: Transform the pain of life through artistic abilities. But what if we stopped repressing and instead started accepting the absurd? Albert Camus argued that in the very moment we realize that we are forced to live in the present, we also realize how vast an array of life opportunities the present has to offer. The joy of life can be found in the moment. The overall message of “Joy of Sublimation” is that we must be able to see the emancipatory potential of the absurd.”