Frederik Nystrup-Larsen and Oliver Sundqvist: Staying curious

November 3rd, 2021
Written by:
Nikolai Kotlarczyk

Frederik Nystrup-Larsen and Oliver Sundqvist in their studio in Copenhagen. Photo: Benjamin Lund

Whether working as a pair or alone, the work of Frederik Nystrup-Larsen and Oliver Sundqvist share a commonality in philosophy, rather than practice. Each of them are constantly pushing themselves and the other, not afraid to explore ideas of failure and the unknown. The result is sometimes one, and often two artistic practices built on intuition and emotion, with a good dose of experimentation thrown into the mix.

Meeting at the Royal Danish Academy whilst studying Design, the pair originally found common ground in the love of a good party. Their first collaboration took the form of co-chefs on a student intro-trip and later stemmed into a friendship conducive to sharing a workspace post graduation. Their first artistic project was one of convenience rather than rigorous planning– last minute Christmas presents for their mothers, which quickly led to a series of vases in pigmented concrete for Noma 2.0, and their collaborative relationship was born. What defines this working partnership is not a shared love of one material or approach to ideation or making, rather finding a like-minded individual to bounce ideas off, but also push.

Mater vases by Frederik Nystrup-Larsen and Oliver Sundqvist are part of the interior of restaurant Noma. Photo courtesy of Frederik Nystrup-Larsen and Oliver Sundqvist.

“Working independently as an artist, you go through a lot of peaks and troughs; having someone to share the journey with can help you handle those ups and downs. You mutually support one another. We often motivate each other to explore failure. Going to places that are out of our depth challenges our perceptions and encourages new ideas to spring forth,” explains Frederik Nystrup-Larsen.

This process of challenging how the two artists approach each project can be seen within their 300kg Bird Bath for The Mindcraft Project 2021. While earlier collaborations contained a strong conceptual grounding, this project was a direct reaction to time spent indoors during lockdown. Born out of a smaller project the year earlier in Buenos Aires, Argentina, this larger piece did away with any practicality in favor of creating work with their hands and enjoying the scale of the project. Large foam panels, hand carved and detailed, were later cast in aluminum to form the sides and top of the expansive bird bath. The DIY approach of the project, even when confronted with a new material and scale, speaks of the risk-taking Frederik and Oliver look for in each project.

300kg Beauty Bath by Frederik and Oliver for The Mindcraft Project 2021. Photo: Benjamin Lund
300kg Beauty Bath, The Mindcraft Project 2021. Photo: Benjamin Lund

“I think its about working as an amateur all the time. We chance the way we work and the materials we work with all the time. You will not be able to find a lot of works from us that are made in the same way. We try to challenge ourselves and we try to stay as curious as possible. When you work as an amateur, you are not bound to the same rules or techniques as when you know your boundaries. So we try a lot of things out. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t,” says Nystrup-Larsen.

Photos: Benjamin Lund

Outside of their own practice, Frederik and Oliver have always had an affinity to test and try new methods of how their work can be presented, along with a keen interest to grow their artistic network and help champion likeminded creatives. A longtime collaboration with Copenhagen based galleries V1 and Eighteen led to Off License — Cash Only – a marketplace for one-off creations focused on an instagram platform that allows closer interaction with those purchasing their work. The pair are also co-owners of the newly opened gallery in Nørrebro, Inter.Pblc, which acts as a space in which they can curate shows and give others a platform on which to grow. Inter.Pblc’s first exhibition during the summer of 2021 allowed curator Nicole Walker to take over the fledging space with artists including Tommy Sveningsson Krek and Olof Marsja, as well as Walkers own practice.

Off License — Cash Only in process. Photo courtesy of Frederik Nystrup-Larsen and Oliver Sundqvist.

Having recently come to the decision to progress with separate artistic practices going forward, the combined output of Frederik Nystrup-Larsen and Oliver Sundqvist will continue to challenge the notions of what creatives can achieve outside of the studio. While a simultaneous showing of individual exhibitions at V1 Gallery and Eighteen Gallery later in 2021 will see their work still represented side by side, it is projects such as Inter.Pblc and others that will allow the two to continue their creative endeavors together going forward. Although not combined artistically, stepping into new directions and seeking alternative outcomes has always defined the relationship of these two young Danish artists, always ready to take a step into the unknown.

Photo: Benjamin Lund