These artists are Siri Austeen, Hans Christian Gilje, Linn Halvorsrød and Johanne Hestvold. Central to all of the artists in the exhibition is a formal investigation of landscape – in a broad sense. The dialogues that have occurred in the exhibition are furthermore a way to mirror some of the changes that have happened in the field of art during the past 40 years, and in how the autonomous painting has been challenged. The exhibition is produced in cooperation with Se Kunst I Nord-Norge (SKINN), and the show in Svolvær is a condensed version of the great anniversary exhibition in Bodø in the autumn of 2016.
Gunnar Tollefsen: I granskogen, akryl på lerret, 97 x 108 cm. Foto: Espen Tollefsen.
Gunnar Tollefsen has steadfastly painted within the modernistic tradition for several decades. He lives in Sortland, but spends lengthy work periods near his childhood home at Nøss on the outside of Andøya. Tollefsen was one of the first North Norwegian artists to get an education at the Art Academy in Oslo. In the 1960s, the studies there were influenced by European modernism; the image itself was not central, but rather the formal and geometrical. Simultaneously, nature and the landscape he inhabits has clearly played an important role in Tollefsen’s artistic career. His approach is nevertheless far from what is often associated with depictions of the North Norwegian landscape; Tollefsen does not romanticize, but uses nature as a jumping off point for painterly explorations. What several of his paintings have in common is a closeness to the subject; in place of the vast vistas, one usually comes up close in Tollefsen’s paintings, be it fir-tree forests or the sight of the seashore while turning one’s head down. Tollefsen has also worked extensively with wood sculptures and reliefs, and in these, inspiration from other fields than European modernism is visible.
In the summer of 2015, the other artists in the exhibition visited Nøss in order to better acquaint themselves with Gunnar Tollefsen, his pictures, and the place he grew up. All of them have created new works on the back of this visit. Siri Austeen (b. 1961, Skien) participates with the installation Myrr, which both visually and audibly refers to Tollefsen’s geometrical universe and to the contrasts of Andøya’s landscape. Here, rectangular and square sheets of glass function as loud speaker membranes hanging from the roof. In the black box, HC Gilje (b. 1969, Kongsberg) has constructed a kind of abstract, dynamic light painting where spatial elements make up the canvas. Inspired by Tollefsen’s paintings of water reflections, he has used the transition between the ocean and the sky as his starting point. Johanne Hestvold (b. 1988, Bergen) works with a reduced formal language, where she explores the relationship between representation and abstraction. For the exhibition she contributes with a plaster cast installation on wheels, which appears like a hybrid between sculpture, painting and a movable piece of furniture. At the same time, it enters into dialogue with Tollefsen’s painting Rød speiling. Linn Halvorsrød (b. 1980, Sarpsborg) contributes with the sound sculpture Portal, which is exhibited at Havneterminalen. It is a homage to the nature landscape outside Gunnar Tollefsen’s childhood home in Nøss, and to Tollefsen’s own material painting Portal.
The exhibition is curated by Torill Østby Haaland and Eva Skotnes Vikjord.
Johanne Hestvold in dialogue with Gunnar Tollefsen at NNKS. Foto: Kjell Ove Storvik.