Artist of the Month is a monthly interview series where Tegnerforbundet introduces a member who is represented by artwork in our Sales Department. With this initiative, we want to give readers an insight into the members' artistic work and highlight the importance of drawing in their work.
Ole Lislerud (b. 1950) is an artist with a multifaceted technique and use of materials, ranging from drawing, painting, graphic printing techniques, ceramics and digital techniques on glass. The works are characterized by expressiveness, both in the rapid use of pencil and brush and in the use of color. Lislerud's personal engagement with language, writing and symbols is also a recurring motif in his art. Thematically, he often comments on both our present and our history. In his latest major project, The Sami Pain, he uses his own experiences from his childhood to comment on the abuse the Sami have suffered at the hands of the Norwegian state. Lislerud has a long list of commissions in Norway and abroad. Lislerud has been purchased by the National Museum, Kode, Henie Onstad and a number of museums abroad.
TF: Can you tell us a little about your artistic work?
OLYMPICS: My artistic practice is mainly related to art in public spaces, including projects at NTNU in Trondheim, the NATO building in Stavanger, Nynorsk Kultursentrum in Ørsta and Oslo Tinghus. After I left my professorship at KHIO in 2012, I focused more on drawing, painting and video production. I had some experience with video production from earlier and was, among other things, involved in establishing the Artists' Media Workshop at Høvikodden in the 80s for the Norwegian Arts Council.
In May 2023, 9 videos on Jeløya that I have produced about Munch are presented with the title: In Munch's Footsteps. The videos are a commentary on the years he lived on Jeløya.
Currently I am working on the exhibition project: Language and Identity - The Sami Pain, with exhibitions at the Sami Centre for Contemporary Art SDG in Karasjok, at Gallery A, in Oslo and this summer the project will be presented at the Sami Language and Culture Centre Sijti Jarnge in Hatfjeldal.
Growing up in South Africa, I have always had an international perspective in my work, with studios in the USA, Turkey, Japan, China and Italy.
TF: Why do you draw? Tell us a little about your work process.
OLYMPICS: I have been drawing all my life and have several shelves of sketchbooks, but for some reason I have never cultivated it as an independent expression. First and foremost, drawing is an important tool for me to develop and experiment with ideas. I have further developed this method in relation to my building-related projects, but also paintings and sculptures. But, I also draw to remember. I like to photograph, but the fact is that I remember journeys, places and people much better if I sit down and draw. Both observation and recollection are enhanced through sketching and drawing.
TF: Can you name some artists/artists who inspire you?
OLYMPICS: "There are some architects who have made an impression on me, including Sverre Fehn, who I worked with on Ivar Aasen Tunet - Nynorsk Kultursenter in Ørsta. He had a large blackboard behind his desk where he sketched out his thoughts and ideas. I drew on the board with my input and that's how we communicated.
However, there are two artists who have been particularly important to me when it comes to drawing. First of all, Christo and his unique way of communicating and presenting his projects. I have learned a lot from him even though I have never chosen to use his technique in my work. The second artist is Cy Twombly. The freedom and freedom he conveys is, in my opinion, incredibly interesting and inspiring.
TF: What themes concern you as an artist?
OLYMPICS: Writing, signs and symbols is a recurring theme in my artistic work from my first major commission to decorate the Oslo courthouse with the title: Lovens Portal / Lex Portalis. In recent years, the theme has been strongly linked to language and the importance of language. Having grown up in South Africa, the Norwegian letters Æ, Ø, Å are incredibly exotic. They are unique, different and not least a clear symbol of Norwegian culture. I have developed the theme further into exhibitions about Kebab Norwegian and the ten Sami languages.
TF: What is the role of drawing today?
OL: It is not quite easy to answer this question. In art education at university level here in Norway, drawing as an independent subject area has virtually disappeared. It's sad, and that's a discussion in itself. Nevertheless, drawing as a form of artistic expression is very much alive and experimental in my experience. Art and architecture have always changed as new materials, tools and technology have been added to the disciplines. The creation of photography and video is an example of this evolution.
Drawing based on digital techniques will become more and more relevant. Not least, drawing has a great future in this context related to building-based art such as glass facades where you can transfer drawing to glass. An example of this is the glass facade of Næringslivets Hus NHO at Majorstua where my drawings are digitally printed on about 20,000 sqm.
TF: What does drawing mean to you in your work?
OL: The drawing process has always been part of my work, meaning that the drawing has been part of the process but not the final result. Today, I see drawing as an independent expression of my artistic practice and have therefore finally started to exhibit these works.
In addition, for several years I have been drawing on my mobile phone and iPad. Now I'm looking forward to having a solo exhibition based on a digital drawing expression with a different kind of line and aesthetic.
TF: Tell us a little about your work in Tegnerforbundet's sales department!
OLYMPICS: The compositions are developed in the context of my exhibition at SDG Sami Centre for Contemporary Art in Karasjok. The motifs are based on the Norwegian state's abuse of the Sami and the series is entitled: The Sami Pain. The assimilation policy led to the loss of the Sami language and this loss is today referred to as - The Sami Pain.
Growing up, going to school and university under Apartheid in South Africa, I have experienced racism and the use of language as a political weapon by the state in both countries. In this way, both states have subjugated and degraded their own people. These atrocities against the Sami and African people can rightly be referred to as Cultural Genocide.