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NOT ALL THAT WAS SHOULD BE
During the last ten years, Sverre Bjertnæs (b. 1976) has made a mark on the international art scene with works characterized by a poetic adaptation of existential subject matter with an autobiographical vantage point. The works often center around the psychological tensions between the individual and collective, life and death, or contemporary taboos. Using literary and art historical references, he creates distinctive polyphonic compositions. The internal history of painting amalgamates with a subtle, investigative contemplation where his virtuosity within the field of classical painting is ever changing.
Top ten in the New York Times
Bjertnæs’ works examine and illuminate a dialoguebased creative process with art-historical material or in collaboration with other visual artists, directors, actors and writers. The collaborative scope creates openings for inter-aesthetic and conflict-filled juxtapositions that display a passionate drive for renewal and experimentation, as exemplified by his important and long-standing collaboration with Bjarne Melgaard. Bjertnæs’ exhibition After Shelly Duvall ’72 (Frogs on the High Line) was curated by Melgaard at Gallery Maccarone in New York, and was considered one of the ten best exhibitions in 2011 by the New York Times.
This exhibition is Bjertnæs’s largest retrospective museum exhibition to date, and features his works from the early 1990s – when Bjertnæs became a student of Odd Nerdrum at age 16 – to his recent paintings, installations and film productions. Highlights of the exhibition include major works from the series of youth portraits that portray the psychological tensions and vulnerabilities between the individual and the collective. Another highlight is Bjertnæs’ collaborative work with Bjarne Melgaard, Climate Confusion Assistance, which was first shown in 2012 at Gallery K in Oslo.
Several internatinal exhibitions
Around the year 2010, Bjertnæs expanded his artistic language from figurative painting based on photographs to complex installations with a multitude of artistic expressions and media. This was made clear in his solo exhibition If you really loved me you would be able to admit that you’re ashamed of me at White Columns Gallery in New York in 2013, and in the following year in Nervous Fluids at the Stenersen Museum in Oslo.
Bjertnæs is represented by Galleri Brandstrup and has had several international solo exhibitions. He has also received grants from the Blix Fund in 1999, Anders Jahre’s Humanitarian Foundation’s award for emerging artists in 2005, and the first grant from the newly established Håkon Bleken Foundation in 2008.
Bjertnæs’ monumental sculptures, made in collaboration with Void, will be shown in Haugar’s courtyard, along with a new work by playwright Arne Lygre.
The exhibition is curated by Tone Lyngstad Nyaas and is accompanied by a new book about the artist written by dr.philos. Knut Ljøgodt, director of Nordic Institute of Art and Joakim Borda-Pedreira, art historian and curator. In addition, author Cecilie Løveid contributes with an essay and Jan Åke Pettersson, director of Haugar Art Museum, with an introduction to Bjertnæs’ artistic career. The monograph is published by Arnoldsche Art Publishers.
PHOTO: Øystein Thorvaldsen