Coup de Grâce: Per Henrik Adolfsson, The Artist Otherwise Known as Pancake

May 2, 2016 | Vicky Veiga (LA CALLE BCN)

Much like their creator, Per's works of art linger with an an air of bittersweet memories and a dash of dark humor. The pieces, collages of dissonant images, focus on the fallen hero, the nearly forgotten matador. Used to living in a time when bull fighters in Spain were the rock stars of the day, ubiquitous figures in the media, the matador is unable or unwilling to shed either his days of glory or the ego that accompanies, despite the very apparent fact that he's slowly become a relic of no use. Hence, such as in the piece The Evening News, featured below, we are able to find the no longer sung hero living a life that has gone on without him, but clothed in all of the pompous glory of his accoutrements and arrogance. Per says, "I'm friends with him now, but I kind of want him to suffer for what he's done." The matador is found here watching a bullfight on a portable TV beside his trailer park, a prophetic raven perched on his side, whom he chooses to ignore.

Among the humorous juxtapositioning of the matador and his mundane chores, we find a lot of interest in death, such as in the piece below entitled "At Five in the Afternoon" a reference to Lorca's haunting poem about his bullfighter friend Ignacio Sanchez Mejias, which reads, "A boy brought the white sheet at five in the afternoon. A frail of lime already prepared at five in the afternoon. The rest was death and death alone at five in the afternoon." 

The allure of the matador is heightened by his proximity to death. But when his art becomes irrelevant and his mystique dissipates, the matador is left alone to contend with the fact that without his bull, he is nothing.

Has the matador finally died in this collage or is he simply taking a break from reality via a siesta after drinking too much Sangre de Toro?

It is hard to tell, but death and rebirth are very much a recurring topic in the collection. Much like life itself, old ideals and rituals like the life of the matador must die for life to go on.

This collection beautifully embodies the eternal reluctance to die. Here below we find "The Surrender", where our  fallen matador waves his sad white flag at at a colony of bats, symbols of death and rebirth.

The moon is also a central figure in the collection. Per says, "Without the sun, the moon can't shine. Without the spotlight, the matador can no longer shine either."

The title of the exhibition, Coup de Grâce, or stroke of grace, refers to the last wound that the bull must receive before his legs give in and his life is conquered by the matador. The bullfighter in this case is the one resisting his destiny and refuses to go out with grace, slowly descending into a downward spiral of absurdity and ignominy.

Per Henrik Adolfsson grew up in the Swedish outbacks and moved to Barcelona some years ago in the quest for light. However, there is a certain beautiful darkness that has remained within him and is prevalent in his craft. His technique of utilising extraneous images and collating them into his own creation is akin to one trying to make sense of and mold distant memories into a unified idea. One thing is for certain, his works will not leave you indifferent.  

The exhibition is up at La Plataforma, an art gallery located in Poblenou. If you're lucky, you may even catch him around lurking in his matador costume. On until the 26th of May, Calle Pujades 99.


All art images courtesy of Per Henrik Adolfsson, all photographs by Vicky Veiga