Audun Alvestad paints the unexpected, in the sense that he depicts moments that most forget about. His art is repetitively filled with variations of the “ordinary Joe” — light, pink men, rounded, hairy and often speckled with tattoos. They’re pictured drinking an evening glass of wine, taking a shower, ironing a shirt, eating dinner or having a smoke. This seemingly harmless and often melancholic character is certainly not a figure we’ve seen represented across art history; and as the contemporary world highlights continual issues with toxic masculinity, his is a figure being quickly left behind. “As our world is changing, so do our expectations and ideas about what we should be or how we should live”, Audun explains. “I enjoy to play and explore these ideas about society, gender roles and other social structures”.
Audun’s art celebrates the banalities of everyday life. “I am a routine enthusiast," he tells It’s Nice That. “I like my coffee and a cigarette in the morning". The characters he depicts are familiar; he could be the bloke from next door. “I have a tendency to make up stories about the people I encounter”, he tells us. “From these ideas, I somehow end up building fictional characters that I use for my paintings”. However, this repeated motif is not symbolic of one individual, “but rather something more general he or she represents”, the artist explains. “Creating generic archetypes gives me more space to play with painterly or formal aspects”. As the figure appears so often, our eyes are turned to other qualities in the painting, the narrative and the painterly techniques.
Reminiscent of Japonisme, in particular, the work of Edgar Degas, who studied ordinary women in everyday scenes, such as bathing, Audun instead investigates men. He similarly uses cropping and asymmetry, using unusual vantage points and cutting off the picture in strange sections. Although the character he depicts is often shown performing typically masculine tasks such as mowing the lawn, hunting and lifting weights, there are continuous moments of tenderness and humour. Men are shown sharing a shower or bath, appearing confused or bemused, scared by the common challenges that face them. Audun’s paintings uniquely depict the male gaze, although men are often seen looking at women, they are predominantly portrayed looking at each other.