Work of the Week– “Pulsation” by Roy Ahlgren

Monday, March 13, 2017


By Matt Gorga

There is just something so aesthetically pleasing about this serigraph (i.e., screen print) by Roy Ahlgren. The perfectly spaced shades of color as they go from bright to dark, along with  rounded electrocardiogram-like image. I feel like if there was an EKG machine in Alice in Wonderland or Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, this little squiggly would be the psychedelic representation of a heartbeat, showing the “Pulsation.”

Roy Ahlgren is a primarily self-taught artist with work in permanent collections across the globe, including the Butler Art Institute, the Minneapolis Museum of Art, the Seattle Art Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Fredrikstad, Norway, and many other museums in Japan, Poland, Vietnam, Brazil and the Netherlands. His work has been exhibited at the National Academy of Design Annual in New York, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, The National Exhibition of Prints, the Library of Congress, and the International Exhibition of Art in Frechen, Germany.

It is an exciting time at the Asheville Art Museum as construction gets underway on the expansion and renovation. In the Museum’s temporary absence from its Pack Square location, new “pop-up” exhibitions will be held at its temporary On the Slope location, as well as around town. Opening March 18 is an exhibition that will feature artists like Roy Ahlgren along with other Pop and Op artists from the 1960s and 1970s.

Ahlgren’s work above is truly an artifact of the Pop and Op art era. The blurring of lines between traditional art and commercial design as well as a utilization of popular imagery are both evident in this piece, both of which are common characteristics in Pop art. This is the style that was popularized by artists like Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and James Rosenquist, and remains popular today.

It really is exciting stuff, full of imagery, and very relatable.

It’s not every day a piece of art reminds me of a psychedelic Willy Wonka EKG…

Come experience it for yourself at the Museum’s On The Slope location at 175 Biltmore Avenue. The Pop ‘n’ Op exhibition starts on March 18 and lasts through May 14, 2017. See you there.

Artwork above: Roy Ahlgren, Pulsation, 1978, Serigraph, 18 x 24 in, Gift of the Art Department at UNC Asheville, Permanent Collection