The Fractual Paint and the Visual Boogie

Ole Lindboe

About Kristian Hornsleth and his paintings

"The medium is the message," stated the American media analyst Marshall McLuhan already in the 1960s. Since then, his prophecy has thoroughly prevailed in every conceivable corner of the global village. The old media guru was much more right than he dared to fantasize. The media have prevailed to such a degree that we believe that they are reality. Or perhaps fear that they are larger than real life. Remember too, that all too often, we cannot distinguish between reality and what the media produces.

Seen with cool eyes, the World is a huge reality show. Fear, forfeiture, passion, sex and death are all found in digital versions, wherever we move or look. Consciousness is equal to bandwidth. By the way, how many bits does your intelligence have?

Everything is for sale in the glittering media world, and we lap it up, in equal parts of horror and pleasure. The media is the opium of the people, to rewrite the old maxim originally formulated by a Mr. Marx. Everything is entertainment, whether it is an airplane flying into the towers in New York, tsunamis in Asia or the Grand Prix (drop the Danish reference?). We are spectators and we generally play the parts of happy voyeurs.

When we get closer to Kristian Hornsleth's paintings, we encounter a seductive surface. The motif can be everything from modern babes to beaches dotted with palms. It is generally strikingly lavish, even though the surface is often scratched (patrons often think that there is something wrong with the picture, but take it easy, it is part of the show). The artist knows the media alphabet inside and out. It is a message, perhaps a slogan, and then the man himself – in the form of his signature.

One is never in doubt when one comes across a real Hornsleth. And you can picture it yourself: Hornsleth is like a kind of modern knight who is on a perpetual ride around the media carousel searching in the latest archives for raw material for his next painting. He is supremely skilled at it. And he understands how to tickle our fantasy in just the right places. He knows that we all hunger for beautiful pictures, exactly like a drug abuser hungers for his dope. And we want more all the time.

One can say that it is that curiously paradoxical that he nearly always sticks to things that can be framed or be placed on a nice glass table. But naturally, Hornsleth knows the rules of the game in the department of show business we call art. Let us pray (repeat after me): It must sell. What else?

Question number one is like this: Is Hornsleth a cynic or a romantic?

Answer: Both! He cynically picks the best motifs because he wants to grab your heart.

Question number two is: Is what he makes art?

Answer: Of course it is art! Because it is entertaining! And it is interesting in itself because it catches the eye! Because it raises harsh and provocative questions (what do you dream about – and why?)! Because it is philosophical, since his images force us to reconsider the notion of art and the rules of the art game.

The intentional media baron Kristian Hornsleth has entered art. He sticks his big gun in our noses and says: "Make my day!" Or he says, "Do you feel lucky, punk?"

What can we do other than to play along in his game? And of course we are delighted.

Ole Lindboe, Danish journalist, editor of Magasinet Kunst, author of a long series of art books.
Translated from Danish by Pamela Starbird

This text was published the first time in the book Fuck You Art Lovers Forever,
Kristian von Hornsleth, Futilistic Publishing, Copenhagen 2005.

You can buy the book on