Artist of the Month : Anne Rolfsen

May 2, 2022

Anne Rolfsen (1946) is an artist who for many years has dealt with the execution of meticulous and precise geometric compositions. The drawings involve an accurate organization around a central starting point that extends beyond a specially made square grid sheet. Rolfsen calls these drawings central compositions. The formal means line, surface and color create beautiful shapes with order and balance, all the way from the center to the outer edge of the sheet. Her central compositions are often compared to mandalas and are based on meditative drawing techniques. Rolfsen is a graduate of the Norwegian Academy of Fine Arts and the Norwegian School of Crafts and Design. She has participated in a large number of solo and group exhibitions. Rolfsen has been purchased by, among others, the Norwegian Cultural Council, Oslo Municipality's art collections and the National Museum.


TF: Anne, can you tell us a little about your artistic work?

AR: I am a trained draftsman from the graphic line at what was the old School of Arts and Crafts in Oslo. Then it was the Statens Kunstakademi (1978 - 1985), where I painted for five years. I painted oil paintings, and was interested in Pictura Metafysica and Italian transavantgardism. After the Academy, I also worked a lot with dry pastels - then I discovered Georgia O'Keeffe. I was interested in plant motifs, which I abstracted, and was inspired by her. In 2006 I had my first pure drawing exhibition - this opened a new world. When I eventually started with square grid sheets, I found a theme that became very immersive, namely what I later called Central Compositions. This became a new haunt.


TF: How do you use drawing in your work? Tell us a little about your work process.

AR: I work a lot with goache and watercolors. The starting point for these is, as a rule, sketches made with colored pencil. When it comes to the Central compositions, they are always done directly. To me, it's like a meditation, as far as artistic work is concerned. But here there is no planning. I have the route sheet in front of me, put the passer tip in the center, and thus I'm off. It's almost as if the pattern is clearly in the grid - the drawing draws itself.


TF: What inspires you? Do you work from a theme?

AR: I am inspired by ancient illuminated manuscripts, by geometric and mathematical drawings and principles, Tibetan thoughts and Indian yantras, North American Native American sand paintings, images from the Universe, etc. I can also be inspired by outsider art.

Other female artists have been particularly important sources of inspiration. After Georgia O'Keeffe, I found Hilma af Klint. This was in 1986. I was at Järna in Sweden in 1987 and saw Hilma's ten largest paintings in connection with the seminar "Culture gives life". There I met art historian Åge Fant. He was the first to understand what this art was. He introduced me to Hilma - who he also introduced to the rest of the world in 1985, in the exhibition "The spiritual in Art. Abstract painting”. Hilma af Klint has meant more than anyone else in my artistic work. She opened a new path to art - not just for me. Likewise Emma Kunz - who, like Hilma af Klint, worked with metaphysical principles. I must also mention Agnes Martin as important, with her fragile and shiny grids.

Then I'm almost obsessed with colored pencils, I probably have several hundred! Precisely the colored pencil can express this transparently and poetically.

In the central compositions, it is the purely procedural that matters most. I am interested in drawing and color. This is my theme.


TF: What are you currently working on?

AR: I always have a route sheet lying around.


TF: What does drawing mean for you / your work?

AR: Making pictures means a lot. I get depressed if I do not get to work.

As I mentioned earlier, going into an artistic process is a kind of meditation. You step into something completely different, away from the daily consciousness, it is self-forgetting - and thus very liberating. Yes, a sanctuary. Everything can happen, you are involved and control, but it still does not just come from yourself.


TF: Tell us a little about your work in Tegnerforbundet's sales department!

AR: I show a couple of large Central compositions. They are made with felt-tip pens, dry pastels and colored pencils. They are geometric shapes - do not imagine anything, they are what they are.

During my time at the Academy, I took a break, spent some time in Athens, and was trained by a "magician" to heal plants using geometric drawings and a pendulum. I only think of pure drawing when I now work with these Central compositions - but I still have a feeling that something positive happens when I make such a diagram.  

It literally becomes a way to focus.


See works by Anne Rolfsen in the online store.