“House at Dawn” is Morten Schelde’s first solo exhibition since moving to Skagen in 2021, the northernmost town of Denmark, and this newfound geographical outlook is clearly visible in the melancholic and subdued works of the show. In “House at Dawn”, the Danish artist continues his artistic exploration of the home as a phenomenon as well as what lies beyond our immediate world of experience and comprehension. The works of the exhibition process our connection and relationship to our homes and the surrounding urban spaces, the subtle although distinct contrast between the known and the unknown, the internal and the external.
Schelde makes extensive use of contrast in both a literal and a figurative sense. Across the pictorial plane, clashing colors are forced to coexist, surreal depictions and combinations occupy the surface – a house is doubled in its own image, a room dissolves into DNA strings, the vegetation along a lighted path morphs into human figures - and everything seems to be balancing on a knife’s edge between reality and fantasy. Schelde navigates the realm of possibility and connects prosaic depictions of everyday life with an inner, dream-like world, which usually doesn’t reveal itself until further inspection.
Aside from presenting scenes that most viewers recognize from their own encounters with Danish Suburbia, the works also tap into Schelde’s own memory and life story. The artist no longer resides in the city that helped define him as a person and indeed an artist, which is why this body of works also represents a bittersweet depiction of life at a distance, looking at the big city from afar.
Schelde’s artistic universe is dominated by the fantastic and the peculiar. This is apparent in the works of “House at Dawn”, in which the artist’s deeply saturated and fragmented spaces are kept open to further reflection and wonder. When the picture freezes, our imagination starts reeling.
A good example of this is the titular piece of the show. Here we are met by a glowing, red forest that is contrasted by fiery yellow sky. Situated behind a house and away from the streets of the city, the audience is left to itself among the trees, alone with their thoughts and the quiet. And like so many of Schelde’s works, this too asks far more questions than it answers: Who lives in this house? Where are we? What secrets lie beneath the woods? Why is the sky burning? “House at Dawn” is a mysterious and spellbinding tour of the strange universe of the acclaimed draughtsman. It is Morten Schelde, when he is at his best.