On wood and water by Even Bie-Larsen and Elisabet Alsos Strand
- Place Nordnorsk kunstnersenter, Svolvær
Wood and water become expressive – physically and conceptually – in these two North Norwegian bodies of artistic work, which for the first time are presented in relation to one another.
Elisabet Alsos Strand’s images are simultaneously abstracted representations of nature and direct impressions of it – as if they might be the very fingerprints of the forest. That is, the images are characteristically the result of the natural lines of the wood, with or without reworked motifs, which she transfers to paper with the aid of traditional woodblock techniques. In all her artistic work Elisabet has been concerned with slow printing methods. For the past ten years she has immersed herself in the Japanese woodblock technique called mokuhanga, where the image is printed by hand with printing blocks and water colour. Via many layers of colour a darker result is obtained, and a form of expression resembling watercolour emerges when water, colour and wood encounter the handmade Japanese paper. The interaction among the materials, and between them and the artist, is pivotal. The exhibition combines prints on walls with spacious installations in which the characteristics of the paper are emphasised.
In recent years Even Bie-Larsen has gained attention for his map-paintings. There, waterways such as rivers and coastlines become major presences, and Bie-Larsen displaces and plays with the ideologies hidden in conventional mapmaking. However, this exhibition has another significant element: a series of objects hewn from wood. There is a long tradition of making practical objects from veined, knotted wood, or what Even calls knots or knobs. In his work, though, they do not take the form of coffee cups or wooden bowls but of organic sculptures in which the peculiar growths in the wood become expressive. The presence of water in the landscape and the wood is decisive for the working of the material, which becomes hollowed out and turned into thin shells. The unruly material and the way in which the wood has grown are involved in defining the result.
Even Bie-Larsen (b. 1955, Kongsvinger, Norway) is a visual artist living and working in Kabelvåg, Norway. Having prior experience as a forestry worker, he received his art education at the Trondheim Academy of Fine Art in the 1980s. He achieved international success early in his career, participating in exhibitions that included a 1992 show at PS 1 in New York. Since then he has remained primarily in his home area in Hedmark, in the east part of Norway, and in Lofoten, in the nort. In recent years he has shown his works at USF in Bergen (2014), Atelier Kvalnes (2016) and Galleri Lille Kabelvåg (2019).
Elisabet Alsos Strand (b. 1963, Mo i Rana, Norway) is a visual artist who currently lives and works in Trondheim. She was educated at the Bergen Academy of Art and Design and the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow. In 2017 she received a doctorate in graphic art at the academy in Krakow; her dissertation was titled Mellom det tomme og det fulle (Between the empty and the full). Elisabet has made study trips to Japan to study Japanese woodblock techniques and has participated in international mokuhanga exhibitions. Among her recent showings in Norway are exhibitions at Bodø Kunstforening (Bodø Art Society – 2016), Adde Zetterquist Kunstgalleri (Adde Zetterquist Art Gallery –2017) and Babel visningsrom for kunst i Trondheim (Babel Art Space, Trondheim – 2019).