Exhibition opening June 4 at 6 p.m.
EBBA BRING, JOHAN SÖDERSTRÖM, SEBASTIAN LARSMO, TORGEIR HUSEVAAG, KIRSTEN OPSTAD.
A collaboration between Tegnerforbundet and the Nordic Artists' Center Dale (NKD).
Five artists, three months residency, a group exhibition.
The exhibition DRAWING & TEXT is the result of an open Nordic call for tenders in 2019, and a working stay at NKD in March, April and May 2020. The jury consisted of Ottar Karlsen and Marit Victoria Wulff Andreassen from the Tegnerforbundet's then board and Kalle Grude appointed by NKD.
The word and the image are often considered to belong to two separate worlds, albeit two worlds that often mirror each other. But both the word and the line germinate in the mind before it finds its incarnation on paper or screen. Through an action orchestrated by the hands, the idea takes its physical form through the line or the word, and something that previously only existed as a thought has now assumed physical form. Why does one idea end up as text, and another as a drawing? What differentiates the two art forms, and what links them together? In what way is the pictorial reflected in the text, and the textual in the drawing? Based on the call for proposals, the artists, side by side, over three months under the pressure of the corona pandemic, worked on the group exhibition in Tegnerforbundet .
The exhibition shows five artists with different approaches to the theme, or the collective term drawing & text. Rather than going on a thematic puzzle hunt to find unifying traces and tangential ideas, it will be more constructive to see the exhibition as a medley where each artist constitutes an independent voice, but which together become a whole with different rhythms, where breaks, harmonies, syncopes, punctuation and dissonances wind around, above and within each other to form a larger whole than the individual image or sub-project.
What drawing and text obviously have in common is that both forms of expression, or modalities (as you can say about text and drawing being united in the same work of art), is that both can be said to be and/or represent linguistic statements. That texts refer to language, as we think of it as composed of letters, signs, words, spaces, sentences and paragraphs into a larger unit is something we do not question. Even so, it is not always the case that language is perceived in one way. Although we have developed letters and signs that we quite agree on how should be put together to create understanding, it is the case that in the space between sender and receiver there are good opportunities for misunderstandings, distortions and interpretation possibilities for what a text or phonetic formulations really are means.
It is the same way with imagery. We depend on the linguistic; typographic and phonetic, references and expressions in the attempt to have a constructive conversation about, or dissemination of, the visually formulated. Sometimes this can add up to a larger unit in the use of visual markers such as design (fonts), colors, proportions, and how text elements are arranged on the sheet/canvas/screen it is written on. And in the same way as with text and language, there is also in the visual arts great room for misunderstandings, distortions and interpretation possibilities of what an image really means.
We often say "..the reading of the work opens up different layers of meaning.." in an explanatory or analytical description of an image. Or we can say of a text that it is "..image-creating..". We can therefore use the term for one art form to describe the qualities of another.
Kirsten Opstad writes her own texts, in diary formats, poetic reflections, poems and stories. In Opstad's artistic work, the relationship between text and drawing has often been carried out as separate disciplines, where the visual artistic and literary activities are not part of an obvious whole or interaction. For the exhibition DRAWING & TEXT , we see a break with this two-part activity; drawings in combination with texts as an overall artistic expression. During her stay at NKD, Opstad also tried out, for her, new media and forms of processing such as woodturning and pyrography, both as drawing and writing tools. It also says something about how Opstad's work can be the result of concrete encounters with new surroundings and framework conditions for artistic production. On some solid wooden boards, for example, with the light brown-black imprint of the brush pen, in a circular spiral form she has written stories based on the meeting between the western Norwegian fjord landscape and her own inner life. Opstad's versatility, spontaneity and drive for creativity in the meeting between materials, situations, feelings and thoughts ranges from fragile home-made paper to robust objects, processed or crudely hewn - and between the ugly and the beautiful.
In sharp contrast to Kirsten Opstad's is Johan Söderström 's project Tablet . This is the continuation of a project he has worked on over several years, and has now followed the same materializing formula. In Söderström's art, it is the word itself, or the combination of words, or the dissection of words that is also the image. Johan himself says that "...a word is also always a picture...". Söderström's project inscribes itself in, and draws on, a long tradition within the visual arts field's use of words and language, with Bruce Naumann, Lawrence Weiner and Jenny Holzer in particular as the most obvious references.
With invariable consequence, he materializes words and expressions taken from the political sphere, words related to morality and ethics, or words of a more bland nature. There is no meaningful whole that encloses the collection of words and letters. The uniformity in the use of materials, and the format emphasizes the equalizing. No word or expression is here more valuable than others, we find no value hierarchy in the project. Söderström uses a separate font developed for the purpose, which similarly emphasizes a kind of value neutrality, together with the uniform use of materials.
During her stay at NKD, Ebba Bring has worked with a series of watercolor drawings, independent text and word pictures, as well as processing found (book) material. In the latter, (random) books are subjected to brutal treatment with gluing and colouring. Clear traces of coercion in the once fragile paper and the heavy-handed treatment remain as remnants of expressive actions. The text is enclosed in its own medium and anonymised by a covering colouring. The text disappears in glue and color pigments, and in the cryptographic action a third (art) object emerges where the visual end product rests in the text's material assumptions. This series of processed book objects is the end of a work begun during a stay in Paris in November 2015.
Bring's watercolor drawings and text posters, on the other hand, are more the result of the encounter with the local western nature, the book The Wall by Marlene Haushofer, text fragments she picks up from literature, radio programmes, podcasts, conversations. Either as direct reproduction or associative processing. The connection between text and image is not obvious, beyond the fact that the text images are also drawn and painted, so to speak, but is more the result of continuous work in the studio where the daily artistic work, the fluid process that can be producing art - the persistent dialogue between thought, idea, action, sounds in the room, visual impressions outside the studio window - crystallizes moments of significance.
Torgeir Husevaag integrates text and drawing in large format. This means that drawing and text form a unified whole. Starting from a textbook on concrete reinforcement that he found after his engineer father, and a "letter" written to his father after his death, Husevaag is able to combine and join together elements of thoughtful emotions and scientific factuality. In the space between these textual fragments that inscribe parts of a life and a relationship between father and son, we find processed drawings of mathematical diagrams that explain span and strength and reinforced concrete. In the meeting between mathematical precision and the ink's less controllable meeting with the paper, he renounces control, but submits to and consistently follows up a set of defined rules in relation to the coincidences that may arise. This is how new forms are formed, which together with text fragments draw new and unexpected spaces that refer to both the scientifically calculated and the poetically random.
During his stay at NKD, Sebastian Larsmo has worked with the cartoon format, and during the period has developed three different projects where the techniques, medium and genres vary. He has also previously worked in sequences and visual narratives, but not purely in the cartoon format as in this project. So, within the various techniques; hand-colored cold needle, colored marker drawings and marker drawings that are colored digitally, he uses the classic storytelling techniques with drawings in logical sequences, speech bubbles and narrative text. In other words, the series are structured within well-known series genres, where visuals and text meet in a mutually enriching contextual interplay.
Larsmo moves effortlessly between different genres and storytelling techniques. In the series Alban , we meet the well-proven animal as the human figure, preferably intended for the youngest readers. But the dispute that arises in the discrepancy between the figure's infantile design and what the figure says and thinks gives the whole thing a satirical touch. The story Två Clownar is inspired by youth cultural references and real events. Based on the clown phenomenon that arose in the wake of the film It , Larsmo writes and draws a comedy of confusion, but where the dialogue between text and image provides a more thoughtful undertone. Almost like a stroke of luck, considering the ongoing corona situation, Larsmo's most comprehensive work is an epic and episodic tale based on Carl von Linné's little-known work Nemesis Divina . The book is a collection of stories about how God punishes humans through nature. This is an ongoing work where Larsmo shows us the first chapters where Linné's original text is entered as part of the visual illustrations.
Events during the exhibition period (05.06 - 05.07.2020):
Tegnerforbundet holds open tours every Friday at 4.30 pm during the exhibition period. For updates on current events, stay tuned to our website and Facebook.
In connection with the exhibition, we have had a chat with the five participating artists.
Video production: Oddmund Haugen / Fjaler film.