The artist reflects:
I was halfway through my work towards a new exhibition. It was supposed to be about subjects that have always held my interests; how my inner twelve-year-old is still at work, behind layers of experience from adult life, and how my painting practice is most at home in the gap between biography and fiction. I had read something by the author Per Petterson, about retaining one’s inner savage Viking. The wild character from childhood games who would not respond to the dinner bell when evening falls but would remain in the deep forests. Because, what most would call reality is no match for the joy of play and imagination.
But then Death came, in the shape of a raging gland in my fathers’ abdomen. Overnight he changed from a self-deprecating grin to a desperate howl of pain and fear. I sat by his sickbed, shaken by the horror of this absolute reality. No inner storybook Viking to be found here, proudly sitting on a mountain top, waiting to be summoned to Valhalla. No words of comforting wisdom from the deathbed, no resolving of unresolved matters. Just the sudden, insane collapse. A dream from which he could not wake.
I drew. Dozens of unprecise drawings without lifting my eyes from this wreck of a man in front of me. To comfort myself. Blind contour. And I knew If I didn’t get this right, if my show did not reflect this overwhelming experience, my work would be fraudulent. My inner Viking would be a cowardly escapist and the paintings would be sweet nostalgia. I had to postpone. Håkon Bleken painted his father’s “lit de parade”, a painting hard to look at but even harder to look away from. I wanted to paint my father in free fall between this world and nothing. I wanted to paint a beautiful image of the grotesque and frightening, and I wanted every brushstroke to be an act of comfort. For the man and for the image itself. It took the months it required.
I had wanted this to be an exhibition about the exuberant and life-affirming. And partly it is. Halfway at least. The rest is absence. A blind contour.
Gallery name: Galleri Brandstrup
Address: Tjuvholmen allé 5, oslo
Opening hours: Tue-Fri 12:00 - 17:00, Sat 12:00 - 16:00
Open: 17.09.2020 - 03.10.2020