The paintings in Erling Sjovold’s exhibition Foil and Stray faithfully greet the observed world only to deviate from it. The fidelity to what is seen and recorded cedes to memory and wayward speculation. Concrete objects do not ensure concrete narratives. Rational spaces cannot account for their contents. Taxidermy animals pass through alien dioramas as natural history engages new conditions. A garden ornament appears alive as it welcomes the sun while a neighboring orange tree suspends its fruit like the planets of a separate universe. Sjovold uses realist rhetoric to set up expectations that he then upends, soliciting our attention towards the common objects and events that often go unnoticed.
Sjovold’s paintings derive from having lived in various parts of the US as well as from his mundane walking in and out of his house. Still life and landscapes blur as do geography and culture. His paintings fabricate the subtle sensation of being here and elsewhere simultaneously.