21 December

Fire up the stove! Kunstkritikk’s Norwegian editor Stian Gabrielsen lists three exhibitions that left their imprint on him in 2021.

Ida Ekblad, Girl Fires Up Stove, 2021. Installation view, Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo. Courtesy of the artist and Kunstnernes Hus. Photo: Vegard Kleven.

Ida Ekblad, Girl Fires Up Stove, Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo

One of Ida Ekblad’s subgoals seems to be to test the limit for how much paint can be physically attached to a canvas. In her exhibition at Kunstnernes Hus, one of the two skylight halls was covered from floor to ceiling with a deluge of kaleidoscopic paintings that link Expressionism’s hungry gestures to desirous fiddling with screens. The second hall was entirely devoted to a tightly arrayed row of wrought-iron stoves with furnace pipes reaching towards the ceiling like factory chimneys. The two rooms flowed together to form an allegory for a practice unapologetically committed to the virtues of productivity and vitality.

Knut Ivar Aaser, Untitled, 2021. Embroidery on Jacquard knit merino wool, acrylic and cotton, 86 x 51 cm. Photo: Erik Mowinckel.

Knut Ivar Aaser, Chiquenade, Santolarosa, Oslo

Shown at Santolarosa before the summer, Knut Ivar Aaser’s pictures are the kind of objects that, no matter how long you stare at them, do not reveal the procedure that birthed them. The elaborate step-by-step process of drawing, scanning, machine knitting, and embroidery is a disciplining response to the simple ephemeral gesture that made the initial mark. Aaser domesticates the popular mashup of digital, mechanical, and handmade media, showing that its purpose is not to inflate the image with noise, but to add a layer of invisible procedural fat.

Anna Sofie Mathiasen, Manual 1–5, 2021. Bookprint in wood frames, printed in Verkstedbiblioteket at Blaker. Photo: Tor S. Ulstein / Kunstdok.

Anna Sofie Mathiasen, Nytt och gammalt (New and old), Guttormsgaards arkiv, Blaker

Instead of plastering a self-referential, charismatic signature on top of already charismatically saturated material, Anna Sofie Mathiasen cleverly used manual animator’s tools to compose modest poetic didacticisms from the contents of Guttormsgaard’s archive. A manipulation that steps back from its object corresponds to how the animator’s hands are never allowed to be present in the picture (as I aptly phrased it in a review I wrote myself).

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