Erlend Peder Kvam

Printed in Issue 21

Erlend Peder Kvam’s practice has no siblings but many lovers—it’s not like anything else. His comics are strange, spiky and gentle, full of wide smiles like his own, and an ever-evolving host of thoughtful characters that Kvam twists into impossible poses and situations. His is a fully-formed sideways world, governed by a different gravitational pull and felt-tip colours.

Language plays an important role in Kvam’s work. Throughout his comics he employs an inimitable style of blunt, poetic dialogue which moves sweetly between profound senselessness and deadpan irony, changing pace in a single word. Speech and thought bubbles recklessly erupt from various body parts. 

For his recent presentation at Grafill, Kvam created 20 felt-tip drawings that explored language in a new and expanded way, dissecting the vocabulary of natural disaster in the world of finance. The economy is often described as being vulnerable to shifts, flows and crashes, it moves through peaks and valleys. The exhibition’s title, “Fiscal Cliff,” is a phrase that visualizes tax and spending cuts that lead to total economic collapse, a huge plummeting drop, with rocks and shards of distress tumbling down to nowhere. Using this metaphorical cliff-face as a starting point, Kvam imagines the characters and icons that could have a causal response; contemporary heroes, lovers, and villains who appear spirit-like at the end of days as having a hand in the dizzying heights and demise of humanity under capitalism.

Slogan tees and Tom Cruise; the alphabet, the internet, and martyred messiahs all make their ceremonial appearances, along with Michael Jordan, his shaman, aeroplanes, and Snow White and co. Of course breakfast, as a concept, commences the day’s programme. Each drawing sits in a bespoke jagged frame with glowing blue edges that feels perfectly suited to the scene. It is through Kvam’s originality of touch and humour that his work feels so total and lovable, and not only that, like work that loves you back, too. – Molly Cranston

Documentation by Jørn Aagaard