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Pages of an evolution. Page 14/07. About rising and falling.
As long as I remember, something in me was always triggered to figure out one single question: Who am I? – Above the skeleton there is blood and muscles; I am a compact upright organism and almost a thinking organization. Another level of mine is something cellular responding to extroverts. It is not convenient and I might not ask. But I do: Am I just a part of something much bigger moving onwards in space rapidly? Hello; is a anybody out there – god (somehow?) And right now; something definitely invisible to my eyes; are they some kind of parasites crawling around in multitudes eating me up from inside, or from outside? Or is the other way round, am I a parasitic system while my body – but also my mind – is constantly digesting stimulus from the world outside and I can’t figure it out – Who am I?
The world outside my body …
Who are we? We (so called) human beings who are living on this strange but beautiful planet! And I the artist! Who am I? Very often, I muss confess, I had this most peculiar feeling to be just a rover or vagabond passing by … So, who am I the artist to ask questions! Have I discovered, in my life, anything at all that gives me a solemn right to present my point of view?
Those sculptures I have done over the years … It might be a contradiction, but I like to put it like this: For me they somehow came out of darkness ... and remain hidden in darkness. Although I know – when I look back – my intense discussion with the material and my passionate commitment is not compatible with this strong something inside me trying to reduce it. As if just something subconscious was going on in my mind.
When I look back! Nothing I have experienced is sensational. I just happened to be one of those who could not stop thinking that life on earth could be a better place although it surely was true that we were driven out from the Garden of Eden. So what do these sculptures of mine represent? Were they meant to be art, originally created and designed for significant meaning?
How on earth did it all start up? Just a few years earlier in my life it was way beyond my imagination. But then I was driven to it.
I’m sure biographical data to a certain degree can explain how things happened, but I very much doubt whether they can explain why …
Spread all along the southern coast of Norway, these small towns once played their important role even in European history. But later! Like tumbling in backwater, I grew up in one of those towns. Today I realize it was a typical one. With all these religious matters playing their part! And therefore – far away from the capital Oslo in the east and light-years away from all that vibrant living in central Europe – there were no reasons that I should have any special interest in art. Ergo, the next years went on in Oslo for the sake of theology studies, not for art. Well, things happened and, to make the story short; the day finally came when I quit that line of study without finishing it. One year later I found myself working on the oilrigs outside the Norwegian coast. It was a good job with plenty of free time in Oslo during my off days.
But…! Was that my entire future? I asked myself. Had a feeling of being in a wasteland.
Was it fate? Two years later I left Oslo and rented a little farmhouse close to my hometown, and while there, out of the blue, the possibility popped up to study art history at the folk university. My first consideration was: Why should I with no special interest in fine art, study its history? After some hesitation I decided my curiosity was enough. And I signed up for the course.
All of a sudden my life had changed. I remember that day very clearly. I was sitting turning pages in a heavy encyclopedia on history of art. Holding the book in my hands, I turned to the next page. In the photo, I saw the sculpture – and the world was never the same again: It was Recumbent Figure 1938 by Henry Moore. From the very first minute, this sculpture touched me deep inside – I was stunned, perplexed, overwhelmed, enlightened, illuminated, educated…! (In the long run all words are inaccurate.) But most of all, I was convinced – and I it was so obvious what I had to do next. My life had turned into something completely and radically new.
Why this sudden urge to involve myself, with such a dedication, in the making of art! I don’t know. I just went on, self-taught, without any heed of the difficulties, sculpting totally on my own. The first years they always came out of wooden materials. Later also stones were used. Sculpture after sculpture. I was haunted by this beast from inside – so I think today – always hungry and very impatient to see development … A quest for something unknown, far beyond my normal understanding? I don’t know. I just carried on and on, full of hunger to see what was around the next corner – what unspeakable saying would the next sculpture shout out by just being there – by coming into evidence …
Looking back on my earlier works, keeping an eye on those produced most recently, I believe they originate from this constantly shifting observation tower inside of me.
The way I most typically worked was simply to see tiny parts of its shape and structure because it was all inside of me, telling a story without words and still laying in darkness. Step by step, in the process of modeling with test material, I gradually turned out more of the shape – enough to picture the stone or wood I needed.
Or it was the other way round. For example, once I found a very special stone, the process started up. Completely drawn to sculpt this particular stone and to connect to the history I felt within it, I was absorbed and challenged to find – not a solution but the solution. It was an absolute demand. In contrast to those working within fields of science, working from theoretical models based on their undeniable and therefore not questionable theorem: In order to solve a problem there might be more than one acceptable solution.
If I challenge myself to tell about the origin of just one work…! When I discovered the stone with its special structure I was convinced that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity (later proved to be incorrect because this particular sort of stone until then was out of my focus) In principle I had the liberty to sculpt almost anything out of it… So, over a long period of time I tried and I tried by drawing, making models, or simply trying to imagine how the final work should look. Haunted by frustration I was not able to find the solution that gave me the feeling: This is it, go! … One day, by an impulse, I went down to the basement, fetched the garbage bags containing plenty of old models, and emptied them on the floor. Many of the models were indeed garbage. Then I saw it. I immediately recognized this model on the floor. It was originally designed for another occasion but left aside. It was what I had searched for all that wasted time. Then all went fast. Now I had the frame. Within that frame I could fill in the details. And actually, after a few hours I knew how I should carve my beloved stone and thereby bring it to life. And I knew for certain beyond rational reason – it was the solution!
One aspect of that particular work of mine has made me think over and over about one philosophical question; the relation between the frame we’re all inside and our desperate need to feel free. Somehow – out from this work on it’s own, and through the way it came to exist – I recognized that real freedom is a pure illusion without existing within its frames. Whatever these frames are, they are dynamic …
Some time it happens that art gets a reputation of being real art. Whatever that might be, it seems to spring out from something that cannot be exactly defined; given names like intuition, skill or instinct.
So what is art? At least it is paradoxical.
I had no statistic evidence on my side when I, as artist, put all my effort in finding the one and only solution for a piece of work. And stories parallel to mine – have clearly been used to affix a certain mythology to art. But is it the complete picture? What is art? … This story based on my own, is both typical and not typical … And therefore I ask: Is art the intellectual place where the lines of our human experience cross each other in an exceptional way …
Because our human soul is paradoxical…! It is an ongoing intersection of unconsciousness, subconsciousness and consciousness. Is that what art is all about? To identify the nature of those crossing lines and work out its body …
(might it be … an archi-sculptural human body? Even if … that Tower of Babel just had to be torn apart...!) (I can’t stop asking)
And so I believe: Art is not the only truth. But it is true. As Oscar Wilde once wrote in one of his novels: All art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their own peril. Those who read the symbol do so at their own peril.
Is it inappropriate to suggest that within my own production there has been development, although not evident by following strict lines of chronology? And therefore – beyond my control, but also because I deserve it – can my works nevertheless as art contribute and deliver a meaning! Make a difference to someone just because they were exposed to it …
pages of an evolution … works by a vagabond on a journey … showing page 14/07 in New York
The Americans are different ...
Even though many originate from Europe, they do their own thing. Their hearts refuse to settle down and at least some of them still believe in dreams to pursue. How naive they can be, (we Europeans think) how unwilling to admit that they have something to learn from us about history and culture… (we like to think) Is it better to apologize for them … (we ask) Because we know that old story, they don’t (we believe) … Those vagabond souls with two bare hands; when they picked up something on the road, they let go what they had and hoped that what they had found was better.
Showing page 14/07 in …
I like to think like that: Some part of my vagabond soul is mixed with the blood that New York’s big heart is pumping; in all directions. And although I found that not everything can be achieved through art because it simply is not possible, I found my progress – it is dynamic and unable to stand still. Evolution is the essential heart in all of it …
I am not in position to judge the value or the potential of my own works. What I do know is that this opportunity provided in a gallery in New York will just provide some limited aspects among others possible. I hope that the final selection nevertheless will enable to exhaust the bigger potential in each sculpture; that they can speak for themselves, whether they will be viewed as singular works or recognized as parts of an entity.
Recognized as parts of an entity...! Then I have to insist that the works to be shown in the gallery in another way as those presented in the catalogue represent one page. The exact title in the gallery is: Page 14/07. (About rising and falling.) This does not mean that the exhibition must be regarded exclusively as thus indicated in the title, but can be regarded from such an angle. The works presented in the catalogue will hopefully be recognized as pages of an evolution, left to the circumstances that they are selected representatives produced over a relatively long period of time.
I hope that this way – this double view – will not be regarded as an obstacle, but instead accomplish this something extra, and be an incentive for the audience to have a closer look on each singular work in the gallery!
Then it might happen that some works will reveal some of their secrets; through stories and knowledge unknown to the artist but not to the visitors?
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