21 December

Long live pataphysics! Kunstkritikk’s Norwegian editor, Stian Gabrielsen, shares his top three exhibitions of 2020.

Runhild Hundeide, BA, 2020, installation view, Caravan. Photo: Caravan.

Runhild Hundeide, BA, Caravan, Oslo

Runhild Hundeide’s paintings remind me of one of the medium’s advantages: its freedom from communicable motivation. Dry, chapped fields of white are surrounded by (unintentional?) dark oil-stains that the bare canvas has sucked out of the paint. Swarms of blue dots look like they are stamped onto the canvas directly from the tube; from the side, they resemble hair follicles. Here and there, pieces of a black and gold-coloured textile band are glued casually to the surface. Hundeide’s composition refuses to come together to form something that agrees with itself on what it is, but relies instead on an obscure and demented grammar of sorts, thus unveiling with perfect pitch the will to dissolution that underpins art as a practice.

Calle Segelberg, Studio Report # 6, 2020, installation view, Kunsthall Oslo. Foto: Kunsthall Oslo.

Calle Segelberg, Studio Report # 6, Kunsthall Oslo, Oslo

At Calle Segelberg’s extremely brief exhibition at Kunsthall Oslo earlier this autumn, I got stuck on a painting of a semi-transparent man in a half-hearted lotus position floating atop a background of stylised plant leaves and concentric circles. A shoal of paper fish was awkwardly stapled to the canvas, as if by a child who doesn’t know how a stapler works. Segelberg’s muted psychedelia is the painterly equivalent of a Buddhist monk’s diet that skips strong spices and onions in order not to agitate emotions. This ‘blandness’ in no way means a lessening of impact, of course.

Tarje Gullaksen, Spoon to Spoon, 2020, still from video.

Tarje Gullaksen, Fire finger frampeik med et unntak & verdenshånden (Four finger foreshadowing with an exception & the world hand), Hermetiske skygger, Oslo

The four-fingered hand is something of an obsession in Tarje Gullaksen’s new gouache paintings, which rounded off the season at the studio gallery of fellow artist Marius Engh. The exhibition also let us peer into Gullaksen’s silent cohabitation with a man dressed in full SWAT gear at all hours of the day, and through a hole in the wall I witnessed what may have been Oslo’s first ‘hand theatre’ performance. Prophetically, Gullaksen seems to have taken it upon himself to restore Surrealism from its current state as a reservoir of worn visual tropes into a viable impetus for making. Long live pataphysics!

For this year’s contributions to Kunstkritikk’s Advent Calendar, see here.