Pierre Bonnard, The Colour of Memory, Glyptoteket, Copenhagen
Disregarding the seemingly autogenerated exhibition title, Tate Modern and the Glyptotek’s presentation of Pierre Bonnard’s idyllic tableaux was one of the strongest painting retrospectives I’ve seen in a long time. On my laminated list of significant colourists, Bonnard is entered as one of the patron saints of demonstratively charismatic painting. Like Paolo Veronese, Helen Frankenthaler, and Bridget Riley, he is one of those passive-aggressive sensualists who wants to abolish the conventional hierarchy of disegno and colore. The exhibition at the Glyptotek offered a unique encounter with a parallel modernism that is sensuous, generous, and seemingly more relevant to contemporary painting than the aesthetic puritanism which (roughly speaking) attained the status of the 20th century’s visual profile.
Øystein Wyller Odden, Power Line Hum and Power Balance (composition for piano and alternating current), Oslo City Hall, the Oslo Biennial, and Ultima Oslo Contemporary Music Festival
An impressive project organised by the amorphous and sporadically communicating organism we refer to as the Oslo Biennial was Øystein Wyller Odden’s two sound pieces, played and performed in Oslo City Hall on a regular basis from May to September. I was particularly enamoured with Power Balance, which premiered during this year’s edition of the Ultima festival. The starting point of the composition is the sound of electricity, and at the concert in the City Hall a piano equipped with vibrating elements was connected to the national power grid. The device produced a vaguely fluctuating low-frequency hum which in turn formed the tonal basis for a drawn-out rule-governed improvisation performed by a chamber orchestra that responded to real-time variations in the power grid’s currents. To me, the work constitutes a paradigmatic example of what the pretentious morphinist Pete Kember termed “hypno-monotony” sometime in the 1980s. I was bored into a state of ecstasy and beyond.
Björk: Cornucopia Tour, Oslo Spektrum
Although this was not an art event as such, I nevertheless take the liberty of including the recent Björk concert at Oslo Spektrum on this list, seeing as there were enough artists present to make up an exhibition opening. As far as Björk the artist is concerned, I’m somewhat on the fence, but I take great interest in her collaborations with a roster of forward-thinking producers from the dark ambient, IDM, and post-grime scenes (such as Leila Arab, Arca, The Haxan Cloak, and Rabit). The concert was a grandiose Gesamtkunstwerk with alternating segments of disturbing pagan ritual, baroque conference aesthetics, eco-awareness propaganda, and evocative club experience. I could somehow intuit Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe’s notion of the “androgynous sublime” haunting Oslo Spektrum that Monday night, manifested in a multimedia spectacle wherein technology’s lifeforms got all tangled up in the representation of natural boundlessness.
André Tehrani (b.1980) is an artist living and working in Oslo. His most recent solo show was Parking & Transportation at Galleri LNM in Oslo earlier this year.