Alexander Tovborg creates art channelled through his faith as well as his desire to understand the allegory and meaning at the heart of European mythology. Primarily working with a unique semi-abstract style of iconographic painting, but occasionally through sculpture and performance, he depicts scenes from scriptures and folklore that also offer reflection on today’s society.
In the biennial Tovborg presented two new paintings in Masthuggskyrkan, a church created in the ‘romantic nationalist’ style just over a century ago. The paintings have been made directly on to a section of a sail from a royal Danish ship, echoing the tradition of displaying model ships within churches located in ports.
His work The Rape of Europha is a depiction of one of the foundational myths of European civilisation from Greek Mythology, that of the abduction of the Phoenician princess Europa by Zeus. In the story, Europa is abducted from Phonecia, modern day Lebanon and Syria, and taken across the Mediterranean to Crete on the back of Zeus who has transformed into a bull. In some iterations, Zeus, having regained human form, rapes Europa, who then gives birth to three children, Minos, Rhadamanthys and Sarpedon. The artist uses the story of the abduction of Europa to reflect on the current crisis in Europe, particularly of the asylum seekers fleeing conflict in Syria, whose route to Europe mirrors that of Zeus and Europa. Tovborg constructs a self-image of Europe, as one that is formed through the complex relations to its supposed other.
The second painting, MAMMON, refers to a term used in the New Testament thought to describe money, materialism and greed. The work considers money and capital as having replaced God as the dominant focus of worship.
Alexander Tovborg is based in Copenhagen.
The works are presented at Masthuggskyrkan.
Supported by The Cultural Foundation of the Swedish Postcode Lottery and the Danish Arts Foundation
The works are commissioned for Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art
The Rape of Europha and MAMMON, installation view WheredoIendandyoubegin – On Secularity, Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art 2017, Masthuggskyrkan. Photo Hendrik Zeitler.