BENJAMIN DEGEN: Mångata
Closing Date27 March 2020
PriceMångata: $10,000 | Way: $28,000
Mångata (noun, Swedish): the shimmering roadlike reflection of moonlight on water
To celebrate Benjamin Degen: In Waves, we will be highlighting works, motifs, and other interesting tidbits from the Gallery every week. For our inaugural FOCUS for In Waves, we will investigate “mångata,” both as a term and a predominant feature in many of Degen’s paintings.
Only in Sweden, one of the happiest places on earth, would there be a single word, “mångata,” to describe the magical effect of light shimmering on the surface of a body of water. Here, the “road” begins with the viewer, narrowing as it moves closer to the horizon and its light source. Degen generates waves with thick impasto paint in various shades of blue and green, and light in delicate shades of yellow and pink, executed as a subtle underpainting. The sheer intricacy of the mångata's treatment lends a certain grace to its energy— while the ocean is kinetic and agile, the light is serene, much like the moon from which it is reflected.
Throughout Degen’s other paintings, the mångata functions as a metaphor for movement and travel. In “Way” (2020), the nude female figure guides another individual outside the picture plane down the shoreline. Her body is rendered in the same palette and with the same treatment as the light in “Mångata”: elegant against the dense brushstrokes of the landscape and water. Here, the two begin their journey, hand in hand, setting off towards a bright future.
In this manner, Degen reminds us that humanity is connected to the environment and the celestial universe through movement. In describing his new body of work, the artist explained how the landscape moves through us as we move through the landscape. Using the term’s origin in its literal sense— a road as a wide pathway that leads from one place to another and back again— he emphasizes our relationship to motion: his energetic brushstrokes depicting the crashing waves of water, humankind meandering through landscape, even the moon as it rotates around the earth. To Degen, these quotidian movements and cycles are not just what guides all people but ultimately what connects us to one another.
For more information about “Mångata,” “Way,” or any other works from Benjamin Degen: In Waves, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.