On Anders Sletvold Moe´s Black Letters

“To whom it may concern”, is usually written in formal letters without a specific recipient, but with a content that whoever reads the letter will understand. Maybe Anders Sletvold Moe’s suite Black Letters works in a similar way? They are addressed to whoever is affected.

The title Black Letters makes one associate the deep black objects with letters, even though the shiny Plexiglas plates lack text. The impression is strengthened by the common format – the A4 paper. Initially the severe surfaces are almost repellent. They are dryly objective, but simultaneously seductive. What is the actual meaning of these messages?

Soon enough the images seem oddly familiar, since Sletvold Moe has incorporated other artists’ work in his own painterly objects. Every chosen motif has meticulously been reproduced according to scale and with the surface structure intact. Black Letters exclusively moves within the rigor of abstraction and among the transferred pictures hide both living and dead artists, Swedish, Norwegian as well as international. Also Sletvold Moe’s own earlier images have a place in the suite that together create a kind of continuous art historical contemplation.

The suggestions for the formal content of abstract art have replaced each other all through the 20th century. Often in the shape of manifestos with universal claim. The Brazilian artist Lygia Clark, who’s a part of Sletvold Moe’s suite, wrote in 1960 a text entitled The Death of the Plane. In it she said that the universal transcendental meanings that have been prescribed the abstract image are not convincing anymore. She was far from the only one to bring forth thoughts like that during this time. Instead of projecting meanings onto an image, Clark wanted to turn the picture inward, towards itself.

And this seems to be what Anders Sletvold Moe’s Black Letters does as well. He collects pictures of special meaning for him, this is substantially a personal project –and lets them enter alongside each other. In an egalitarian democratic fashion and submerged or shrunken into the material. The blackness makes the motifs appear as if they were extinguished. But not without life. On the contrary they seem to be resurrected. Embodying a different form.

Text: Magnus Bons
Translation: Alida Ivanov