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Markus Kåhre 1969, Finland

Sometimes we use the word subtle to describe the inner quality of a work of art. A keyword for something we have perceived and been affected by, but words can’t quite describe: the moment when the artwork opens itself to us in its full depth. It’s often a matter of something that fundamentally disrupts our confident perception of reality.

When faced with Markus Kåre’s refined art, whenever he exhibits on the international art scene, this word springs dizzyingly to mind nearly every time. It feeds a useful mistrust of our own image of reality – don’t believe everything you see. Look again, more closely this time…
In an era of fake news and an Internet contaminated by alternative truths, vigilance and critical examination are things we should all practise. And more frequently ask ourselves: What is it we see when we think we are ‘Seeing’?

Kåhre’s installation at this year’s OpenART is a cunning tribute to Isaac Newton and his classic experiment using a prism to split the light our eyes see the world in. In the optical arrangement, the incident light becomes the familiar rainbow, a colourful reminder of the conditions that make our world visible and interpretable to us. A small window of electromagnetic radiation in a world that appears in many other ways in other frequencies, but to the human eye only as a range of tantalizing ‘fake windows’…

In 2018, Markus Kåhre exhibited his work Untitled (all of his works have this practical title, by the way) at Verket in Avesta. A sign invited visitors into a quite ordinary dressing room for the staff at the former ironworks. A bench, hooks, row of lockers, and a mirror on the wall. Ordinary enough, but a glance in the mirror sends the viewer reeling in a subtle experience of the mechanisms of perspective. There is no reflection. Instead, on the other side of the empty frame is another room, identical but reversed, built in mirror image.

This is the ‘devious’ way Kåre works in his art. The materials are not foremost in his works, but instead provide the prerequisites for the work’s core, which is both there and not there. It is only when we discover the deception, in this case the optical illusion, that it becomes complete.