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March 1st – 31st, 2019

OPENING: Friday, March 1st from 6 – 9pm

The Hole is proud to present the first solo show in New York by Swedish artist Joakim Ojanen, “Snake Pit”. In eight ceramic sculptures and five oil paintings, Ojanen shares his unique universe of duck-billed boys, silly hats, sweaty dogs, hairy legs, soccer balls, trees, clocks, clowns, and, of course, lots of snakes. Pushing his ceramic sculptures into larger and more complex dioramas, each artwork occupies a circular ground and is filled with action best viewed from all sides. A pizza crust topped with excitement! The oil paintings are more loose than his previously fussy filigreeing, somehow even weirder and wilder than before.

Ojanen has been visiting New York from his base in Stockholm for the past month, spending all of February in the gallery’s basement studio cooking up clay in his new jumbo kiln. Braving winter temperatures in his windowless bunker to make his show on-site, over the past month, Ojanen has brought upstairs dynamic concoctions and magical beings; the excitement of turning earth into beautiful sculpture is part of the joy of ceramic, watching some mud take shape, become permanent, then be glazed in muted colors that cook up shiny and luminous. We hope some of the magic we have gotten to experience watching him work comes across in the exhibition he shares with you!

“Snake Pit” is his most ambitious installation yet, as he has executed a massive painted ceramic tile floor and suspended all his precious friends above it. With writhing snakes below, his eight creations sit on suspended pedestals precariously perched above the pit. More playful than terrifying, this game of “the floor is lava” is rather low stakes, as the floor is happy snakes a la Snakes and Ladders; only we, the gallery, are terrified that someone will bump the swing and smash one on the ground!

In terms of technique, Ojanen continues to explore what started as a self-taught exploration in clay and has become more sophisticated over the years. The texture has a handmade finger-hewn lumpiness; the heads are just about as big as you can make without advanced engineering; they are inventive but not improvisational, clearly a lot of time was spent on getting just the right expression and look in the eyes for each one. The detailing is fanciful: one figure’s blue-lipped grin looks like he was drinking raspberry Slurpees, and everyone has pronounced arm hair; little moments of inventiveness pop in from a dog’s tiny poo to a beer label or a Yayoi Kusama t-shirt.

Joakim Ojanen (b. 1985 Västerås, Sweden) received his BA in 2012 from Konstfack University College of Arts, Crafts and Design, and his MFA in 2014 from Konstfack University College of Arts, Crafts and Design. Since then, he has exhibited widely from Stockholm to Los Angeles, Cologne and Paris, Edinburgh and Belgium. He is represented by Christian Larsen in Stockholm, Ruttkowski 68 in Paris and Cologne, and Richard Heller in Los Angeles.

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JO 311

Joakim Ojanen King Dog Feeding The Snakes, 2019, glazed stoneware, 20 x 15 x 15.5 inches, 51 x 38 x 39 cm


JO 312

Joakim Ojanen Sunday Boy Deep In The Cup, Can’t Take Another Week Like This, 2019, glazed stoneware, 21.5 x 14.5 x 14.5 inches, 55 x 37 x 37 cm


JO 313

Joakim Ojanen Clock Father To Pink Dog – I’ll Play A Tune, Could You Sing About Better Times? They Say Life’s Short But Don’t Believe Them, 2019, glazed stoneware, 14.5 x 15 x 13.5 inches, 37 x 38 x 34 cm


JO 314

Joakim Ojanen This Might Be My Chance, I Always Wanted A Dog And This One Looks Like He Could Use Some Petting!, 2019, glazed stoneware, 19.5 x 14 x 14 inches, 49.5 x 36 x 36 cm


JO 315

Joakim Ojanen Fuck, What Did I Do Last Night? Cancel Everything, Today I Ain’t Doing Shit, 2019, glazed stoneware, 15 x 14 x 15 inches, 38 x 36 x 38 cm


JO 15

Joakim Ojanen Blueberry Boy Just Got A Little Baby Pet, Teaching Him Manners, 2019, glazed stoneware, 17 x 12 x 12 inches, 43 x 31 x 31 cm


JO 16

Joakim Ojanen The Time Stops Every Time You Sit On My Face, 2019, glazed stoneware, 20 x 15 x 13 inches, 51 x 38 x 33 cm


JO 329

Joakim Ojanen I Am You, You Are Me, We Do This Together, 2019, 22.5 x 14.5 x 14 inches, 57  37 x 36 cm


JO 17

Joakim Ojanen Look At The Future, You See? It’s Always Gonna Be Us2019, glazed stoneware, 22 x 15 x 12 inches, 56 x 38 x 31 cm


JO 18

Joakim Ojanen Time Is Always Right, Can’t Fight It, 2019, glazed stoneware, 23 x 14 x 15 inches, 58 x 36 x 38 cm


JO 316

Joakim Ojanen Just One More Banana Then I’m Good, 2019, glazed stoneware, 12.5 x 9.5 x 9 inches, 32 x 24 x 23 cm


JO 328

Joakim Ojanen Never Felt Empty, Never Felt Sad, 2019, glazed stoneware, 11 x 8.5 x 8.5 inches, 28 x 22 x 22 cm


JO 279

Joakim Ojanen Tiger Dog On The Run, He’s Got A Whiff Of Something Better, 2019, oil on linen, 59 x 118 inches, 150 x 300 cm


JO 19

Joakim Ojanen Falling Deeper And Deeper In Those Heartshaped Eyes Of Yours, 2019, oil on linen, 59 x 44 inches, 150 x 112 cm


JO 20

Joakim Ojanen Good Nights Will Never End, 2019, oil on linen, 59 x 114 inches, 150 x 112 cm


JO 21

Joakim Ojanen Pink Berry With Confidence (And Pet), 2019, oil on linen, 59 x 44 inches, 150 x 112 cm


JO 22

Joakim Ojanen Pink Night Cat Gazing At Stars – They’re Mighty Fine Tonight!, 2019, oil on linen, 46 x 39 inches, 116 x 100 cm