Archive for April 23, 2009

Jorunn Monrad

Posted in Art with tags , on April 23, 2009 by telescoper

Off the Wall is a small contemporary art gallery in Llandaff, about 15 minutes walk from my home in Pontcanna, Cardiff.  I went there this evening to a private view of some works by Norwegian artist Jorunn Monrad, who lives and works in Milan.

The artist herself was there and I got the chance to talk to her over a glass or two of pink champagne after looking at the paintings.

The works on view in her exhibition were all made this year, and they were produced with a technique developed in the Middle Ages that involves egg and casein tempera. The paintings are brilliantly coloured abstract works that involve structures built up  from representations of tiny proto-animals, meticulously painted all over the linen background so that they build up to larger structures. The dramatic colour palette produces interesting visual effects, at times  revealing and at times obscuring patterns present in the paint. The intricate detail and luminous colouring makes for a vivid but sometimes perplexing whole.

Here is an example (although the digital image doesn’t really do justice to the original).


To quote her own description

My works are rooted in an imagery from my childhood: the snakes of the wooden sculptures of Viking and mediaeval Norwegian art, the forms that were created by nature, like branches, cloudsm forms of branches. The fables, the mysterious nature has also played a part. I have also done research on phenomena that are triggered by the imagery, one may say biological, on which precisely the visions of forms that repeat themselves during falling asleep and waking up can create this kind of visual effects.

From this I have obtained a kind of module, that is a kind of biomorphic form, rather than one specific animal or other, that is merely the building brick of of the structure, but that is multiplied in forms that are vertiginous and sometime perhaps unsettling. The idea is to create a dreamy, moving atmosphere that is nevertheless very different from the effects of op art, in short a less clashing, more “natural” effect.

The effects she achieves are, in some sense, a variation on those I blogged about previously but with elements that are entirely original.

If you’re in Cardiff this small exhibition is well worth seeing. Her paintings are for sale too, with a surprisingly modest price tag. I’m seriously thinking of investing in one myself, in fact.

The exhibition continues at Off the Wall, The Old Probate Registry, Llandaff until 30th May 2009.

PS. In response to the specific request below from Tom Shanks, who is never shy of making an exhibition of himself,  I’ve added this picture of his famous travelling installation: