Los Angeles is home to a wide variety of art, welcoming the conventional and the unconventional alike. A city whose culture seeks out the new and exciting in every field, L.A. is the perfect place for Danish urban contemporary artist Mikael B’s newest solo exhibition, “Flow State.” This genre-bending collection of works, on display at Maddox Gallery, simultaneously explores, juxtaposes, and reconciles the three worlds of abstract expressionism, geometric abstraction, and surrealism in Mikael’s signature idiom employing chiefly spray paint on canvas.
At the May 1 opening reception, avid fans and gallery enthusiasts gathered—in respectfully distanced groups—at the West Hollywood space to be among the first to witness the display of this cohesive collection. Viewers entering the space were engulfed in the world of Flow State, the classic white-cube gallery having been transformed by walls coated in vinyl with a 3D effect. In Mikael’s futuristic abstract vision, the dark depth of the walls produced a striking contrast with the brightness of his artworks. Colors and geometric shapes flow organically into one another, not so much interrupted by the space between the works but rather complemented by it, echoing the mental and physical process behind the creation and the experience of art.
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In taking creative control of every available surface, Mikael brings three years of preparation and experimentation to life, creating an undeniably commanding presence. From the vibrant geometric shapes on one side to the shimmering abstract creations on the other, there is always something to draw your eye.
At the very front of the space sits his first freestanding nongeometric bronze sculpture, which, at more than 400 pounds, is a heroic feat. It’s no surprise that his first foray in this medium is so large a work, considering his ambition and the show’s mission. An artist with one foot in the contemporary art world and the other in the world of graffiti, Mikael describes the exhibition as “an experiment with the tangible and intangible world. It’s a mental state of complete absorption in what one does, how the pieces were created and how the pieces are to be looked at. ‘Flow State’ revolves entirely around a transformation in one’s sense of time.”
Flow has always played a huge part in Mikael B’s work. He is an artist who embodies flexibility and adaptability, sometimes creating from a clear plan and sometimes letting the art take him wherever it may, but always aware of the state of mind required to create. The secret to Mikael B’s creative prowess lies in his determination never to be too comfortable. By switching up his process, influences, and environment, while staying true to his own unique style, Mikael remains in a constant state of reinvention and experimentation: a flow state.
This mental state birthed the works displayed on the walls of Maddox Gallery, all of which demonstrate Mikael B’s commitment to creating outside the boundaries of conventional contemporary art or graffiti. As a self-described outsider, Mikael B is constantly breaking through barriers, operating between genres and carving his own path. In this collection we see the outsider identity in practice, inviting us to be in that liminal space with him.
Flow State is an immersive Los Angeles experience, but just as Mikael is not limited to a single genre, process, or style, partaking in the pleasure of the exhibition is not limited to the physical confines of the West Hollywood gallery. From now until May 31, people all over the world can view the work online. Take the opportunity to enter Mikael B’s “Flow State” this month. It offers an exciting and surprisingly serene respite from the stresses of the last year, with safe viewing options whether you visit the gallery or view it online.