Artist of the Month : Merete Joelsen Aune

Feb 1, 2021

Merete Joelsen Aune (1984) has been a member of Tegnerforbundet since 2012 and works with various techniques such as drawing, artist books, graphics, painting, poetry and installation. A common thread in her art is her interest in astronomy and scientific phenomena, which results in conceptual works that explore this theme with a playful approach and often surprising twist. Joelsen Aune uses scientific working methods, systems, languages and stories, and transforms them into a personal and inner world. The drawings range from free, abstract watercolor drawings to precisely executed pencil drawings with fits and rulers. Merete Joelsen Aune lives and works in Oslo. More information about Merete Joelsen Aune here.

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

MJA: I mainly work with drawing and text, but also alternate between painting, photography, graphics and artist books to convey an idea. In my works, I often combine small or large impulses from science with fiction, to explore poetic and philosophical connections between nature and consciousness. In recent years, I have been particularly interested in processes, connections and variability in the universe. The temperamental cycle of outer space gives me associations to my own inner world, even though the pace and scale of the cosmos transcend human perspectives. For example, I imagine processes and movements in the universe as an abstract embodiment of what is constantly moving in us: the thoughts, ideas, emotions, memories, perceptions, that which in itself has no form. It is the literal and metaphorical distance that motivates me. Among my works are imitations and inventions of astronomical environments in visual and written form, careful surveys of the celestial sphere, and quiet drawings with a surrealistic view of surroundings that are a little closer in time and space.

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

MJA: I like that it is a short way to the paper, but for me drawing is usually a slow process. Drawing is my way of looking and thinking. The drawing is with me in my work all the time, but with a changing identity. I move crosswise between the concrete and the abstract, and alternate between drawing in ways that are characterized by accuracy, planning, simplification and coincidences.

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

MJA: I find inspiration in things I read and listen to, in film, art history, in the forms of nature: from the smallest little particle to star colossi. In recent years, my interest in science has grown, and I am drawn selectively to various sources that span centuries. Some time ago, for example, I discovered the original records of astronomers William, Caroline and John Herschel from the 18th and 19th centuries, and this has opened up new considerations and ideas in my work. I am also particularly influenced by art that mixes the personal and the scientific, including The Distance of the Moon by Italo Calvino, where he has spun short surrealistic stories around scientific fact or quotes, and the works of the Scottish artist Katie Paterson and the way she tries to break down the distance between the observer and the cosmos.

In my own work, I am concerned with creating connections between the external and internal world, between objective and subjective dimensions. It might be called an overarching theme. My drawings contain direct references to a visible, physical reality, which in itself can open up many possible thematic inputs, but I am often most concerned with what can be read between the lines.

TF: What are you currently working on?

MJA: I am currently working on my first solo exhibition in Sandefjord Art Association in 2022, which is currently entitled Sometimes I Am Light Years Away. Among other things, I build up a symbolic archive of drawings and watercolors that imitate planetary nebulae or dying stars, to represent changing thoughts and states in myself. In another project, I combine words and fragments from John Herschel's observations of astronomical objects from 1834-38 with my own diary notes, so that a mirrored representation of external and internal phenomena arises. The texts from this log or journal have been published continuously on my website since 01.01.2020, and I am now working on collecting them in a book.

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

MJA: Drawing is the most important language I have. My drawings are a place where I am myself, where I listen and talk, where I look outwards and inwards, and process sensations of life. I imagine that drawing is a kind of " existential synchronization of body and mind" . The wording is from an interview the American artist Paul McCarthy gave a few years ago. For me, it has become a poetic definition of working with art, and a picture of how opinions, ideas and what I have on my mind are pushed directly onto the paper through larger or smaller movements with the hand.

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

MJA: In Tegnerforbundet's sales department, I have a work from the series What She Knew, which consists of various systematic surveys of the sky over the northern and southern hemispheres. Inspired by ancient planispheres or star maps, which represent the sky as it can be observed from a given place at a given time, I have since 2015 drawn my own maps that vary in expression and details. The maps represent my parallel inner experiences, and I imagine that they present a specific moment in time and space, when my thoughts were different than they are now. I like to think that this long-term project materializes a form of self-portrait, a kind of abstract representation of mental longitude and latitude in myself.

The other work in the sales department is from a series of drawings and collages entitled I'll Play It First and Tell You What It Is Later. The title is a quote from Miles Davies. In the series, fleeting episodes from land and sea are staged, inspired by everything from the air currents around us, to the communication that takes place between trees. Through both title and motif, I attribute human qualities to nature, to see what surrounds us in a new way.


See available drawings by Merete Joelsen Aune in our online store .