Laust Højgaard’s exhibition “Plutonium Pompeii" is the artist's second solo exhibition at NBB Gallery. Inspired by sci-fi, pop culture, cyberpunk and mythology, the Danish artist brought his newest body of work to Berlin. On eight large format canvases and two smaller ones, Højgaard portrays monumental human-like creatures or mythological animals. Often depicted in spiral poses reminiscent of the Mannerist figura serpentinata, Højgaard’s characters were interpreted as “both monsters and heroes”, “hip hop knights meet cubist visions of space and time” or “quirky misfits who represent an extreme version of reality”. Subsequently, the figures of Plutonium Pompei combine both warm and frightful feelings.
"Plutonium Pompeii" is an intriguing phrase that combines the name of a radioactive element, plutonium, with the historical reference to Pompeii. It suggests a scenario where a significant release or detonation of plutonium, a highly radioactive material, causes widespread devastation and loss, similar to the volcanic eruption in the year 79 AD that buried the ancient Roman city of Pompeii. “Plutonium Pompeii” explores themes of human hubris, the consequences of scientific advancements, or the fragility of civilizations. “It’s a doomsday scenario with radiated mythical humans and creatures of rock and flesh that are symbolically stuck in their own body,” Laust Højgaard unravels his understanding of the exhibition. Indeed, until today the remains of the Pompeii victims are frozen in time, trapped under the layers of calcified ash. Similarly, Højgaard is using the medium of painting to ultimately preserve his characters in time.
NBB Gallery is glad to have witnessed the evolution of Laust Højgaard’s universe and visions throughout the last year. Unlike Hoejgaard’s exhibition ‘Conflicted Misfits of the Next Apocalypse’ in 2022, Højgaard gradually toned down his palette. In some of his newest canvases, bright pink became a pastel rose tone and the earthy greens became seafoam green. Højgaard also increasingly took in Pegasus-like creatures into his universe or gave his protagonists vehicles in the form of a bike. What has remained is the artist's love for details and layering, his balanced compositions as well as humorous approach.
The exhibition is on view from June 23rd until July 13th 2023 Thu - Fri 12 - 6 PM and by appointment.