Marthe Elise Stramrud, Toril Johannessen, Sofie Berntsen, Tor Børresen, Johan Thurfjell, Chris Cornish and Dayanita Singh


Press Release

OSL contemporary is proud to present the group exhibition "motlys", curated by Randi Thommessen. The gallery will show works by Norwegian artists Marthe Elise Stramrud, Toril Johannessen, Sofie Berntsen and Tor Børresen; Swedish Johan Thurfjell; English Chris Cornish and Indian Dayanita Singh. The exhibition comprise photography, drawing, installation and sculpture. Randi Thommessen is educated as an artist at Central St. Martins in London and as a curator at the Art Academy in Bergen. In 2007 she founded the Oslo-based gallery LAUTOM contemporary, which she directed until recently. LAUTOM presented over 30 exhibitions and participated in a number of international art fairs.

"The light that brightens the sky is sent through a dark universe to a dark earth from the sun over a distance of ninety-three million miles."
Rudolf Amheim

Light is fleeting and uncapturable, yet at the same time, material. It can be seen, but never grasped. The exhibition, "motlys" shows works that pertain to light and perception. With the help of light and distance, the artists reflect on the "here and now", over something that may have happened or what might come to be. Light is envisaged as a picture of the fleeting, perishable and unsteady, or the quality of time that transforms and destroys.

Several of the artists work with photography, a medium that is in itself materialization of light. The photographs of Marthe Elise Stramrud and Dayanita Singh create precise plays of light, complex rooms and designs within the picture frame. Stramrud's works depict a glass box lit from different angles, so that the box's shadow create added perspectives; while Singh's still, black-white photo shows a grid of light in a swimming pool. Toril Johannesen's work may also be understood as a reflection on photography. Her starting point is a low-resolution digital image obtained from the Internet. The image is dramatically enlarged before Johannessen has drawn each pixel with a marker. When viewed in close-up the picture appears unidentifiable and abstract; it is only from a distance that the subject emerges. In the work, "Ghosts", Johan Thurfjell has removed the photographic portraits from the many frames he has collected over time. The yellowed papers that remain become a gentle chronicle of how light, over time, destroys – the paper, the memories.

In Sofie Berntsen's work, Eterna Matic (2007/2013), we find a playful wonderment over the physical phenomenon of light. In her assemblage she reflects on the world's beauty and complexity; that light is made up of material waves that break and bend; is all white, but simultaneously contains all the colors of the spectrum. In contrast, Chris Cornish's sculpture Horizon, Black Rock City (40.768, -119.220, 02/09/11, 05.32H) (2013) is an object that seeks to capture "light itself" at a specific place and time. As with several of the works in the exhibition, the production involves a digital process. Cornish employs a technique used to create special effects in film, where measurements of light-conditions and -temperatures are reconstructed and digitally added to a scene during post-production. Toril Johannessen's work entails a reflection on how photography is filtered and transformed through the Internet, while Tor Børresen use a digital visualization of sound as the subject of his work. The word "death" is shown as a shadow on the wall, suggesting a theme that threads through several pieces in the exhibition.

"if we had wished to begin with the first causes of visual perception, a discussion of light should have preceded all others, for without light the eyes can observe no shape, no color, no space or movement."

Rudolf Amheim, "Art and Visual Perception: A Psychology of the Creative Eye", 1954/1974
Randi Thommessen

The title of Shadow is the Queen of Colour (2013) is drawn by Marthe Elise Stramrud from a chapter in Derek Jarman's book "Chroma". Here she investigates how light and shadow create new rooms within photography's strict surface. A glass box is lit from different angles, so that the shadows create new perspectives and apparently also show us the glass box from various angles. Simultaneously, reflections from the glass box are cast upon the grey background, creating a subtle echo of the play between light and shadow. Stramrud has used a black-white film with a high ISO that gives the picture surface an evocative quality similar to charcoal drawing.

Marthe Elise Stramrud (1984, Kristiansand) won the debut prize at the Hostutstilling in 2012. In 2013 she will have solo shows at Kristiansand Kunsthall and Kunsthall Stavanger.

Toril Johannessen shows a work that examines the exchange between distance and proximity that photography can create between the viewer and the world. In the work DSC00008jpg (2005) an ambiguous attraction towards violence, terror and accidents comes into view. The work is a marker drawing of a car wreck after a powerful collision. The subject is drawn from the internet and the poor resolution is exaggerated by the rendering of the marked pixels. Viewed from close-up, the subject dissolves and appears as an abstract picture. One must distance oneself from the work to see the picture's subject.

Toril Johannessen (1978, Harstad) has had solo exhibitions at Bergen Kunsthall No5 (2010), LAUTOM (2011) and Hordeland Kunstsenter (2012). In 2012 she participated at dOCUMENTA 13. Among her upcoming shows are "Curiousity: Art & the Pleasures of Knowing" organized by Hayward Touring, UK, as well as Istanbul Biennial 2013.

In the work Ghosts (2011) Johan Thurfjell has collected older portrait frames and removed the photographs of their unknown, to him, subjects. We see Thurfjell's recreation of the light traces from the portrait photographs and the yellowing paper where the light has, over the years, created new images and content. The result is a series of framed absences, forgotten memories and yesteryear moments. At the same time, the frames stand as narrative objects that reveal something of the people who once had them hanging on their walls.

Johan Thurfjell (1970, Sweden) has been included in exhibitions at Moderna Museet (2006), Bonniers Konsthall (2007) and Magasin 3 (2010) in Stockholm. He participated in Momentum in Moss (2004) and MMoMA Moscow (2009). He has had solo shows at, among others, Magasin 3 (2007) and Uppsala Konstmuseum (2011). Thurfjell will open his third solo show at Nordenhake (Stockholm) in May and autumn 2013, he will be included in an exhibition at Telemark Kunstnersenter, curated by Power Ekroth.

Devigarh pool (2006) by Dayanita Singh is part of the series Go Away Closer (2001-2006) that reflects poetically on closeness and absence, reality and dreams. The work depicts a swimming pool with lines of light. It is difficult to ascertain if the light comes from the bottom of the pool or mirrors light from a ceiling, whether the photograph is taken outdoors or indoors. Ripples in the water can suggest that we are outdoors and the darkness of the water hints that it is nighttime. The contrast with the bright grid of light patterns creates a tension that is both beautiful and disturbing.

Dayanita Singh has exhibited widely internationally. She was represented in the exhibition "Indian Highway" that was shown at the Serpentine Gallery (2008) and at the Astrup-Fearnley Museum (2009). In 2011 she participated in the main exhibition "Illuminations" at the Venice Biennale and in "Paris Delhi Bombay" at Centre du Pompidou, Paris. Singh has also consistently engaged with book formats, publishing numerous works; among others, through a long cooperation with the publishing house Steidl. In 2013 she will be shown as one of the three participating artists in the German pavilion at the Venice Biennale.

For the work Death in Ivory (2013), Tor Berresen read the word "death" and made a digital visualization of the sound the word creates, to then carve the form out of ivory. In this installation, the shadow of the small ivory sculpture is cast against the wall and recreates the digital sound picture. It is a piece that playfully and poetically investigates light and shadow, but all the while insists that we shall die.

Tor Borresen (1963, Hamar) has had solo exhibitions at, among others, Kunstbanken, Hamar (2008), Christiansands Kunstforening (2009) and Fotogaleriet, Oslo (2010). He has participated in group shows both in Norway and internationally, such as Nordic Darkness at Kristinehamn Konstmuseum (2011) and St. Petersburg Biennale (2011). This past winter he exhibited at Kunstmuseet KUBE, Alesund, together with Snorre Ytterstad and Bjorn Bjarre. In September 2013 he will have a solo show at Kunstnerforbundet, Oslo.

Horizon, Black Rock City (40.768, -119.220, 02/09/11, 05.32H) (2013) by Chris Cornish is a handmade globe upon which has been reproduced the light conditions in Black Rock City from a specific date and time. The process has its roots in technology used to create special effects in films, where one reconstructs the measurements of light conditions and color so that these elements may be digitally added to a scene during post-production. The sphere presents as an echo of a traditional globe, but in contrast to a globe, doesn't try to give any definitive representation of the earth. The horizon depicts the light atmosphere of a specific place and time, and by situating the globe in the real world, the light conditions of the surrounding environment will react with the object's imposed light state, resulting in an encounter between Black Rock City and OSL contemporary. The globe is captive between two places and realities. It is both a three-dimensional photograph of frozen light and time, and a living representation of the time and place wherever it is situated.

Chris Cornish (1979, UK) has exhibited at Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, Sunderland, UK (2011), Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam (2012) and Parc Saint Leger, France (2012). He has had solo exhibitions with Schleicher + Lange in Paris and Berlin, and at Liste in Basel.

Sofie Berntzen's work Eterna Matic (2007/2013) is formed as a curiousity cupboard or assembly of different objects and pictures that point towards a scientific aesthetic. The work may be seen as a documentation of a fictitious scientific research project where the assumptions of reality are given visual form, and reveals a poetic, spiritual fascination with natural and physical laws. Berntsen doesn't reveal any indisputable truths, she reminds us of the universe's beauty and complexity, that light is made up of material waves that break and bend, is all white, but simultaneously contains all the colors of the spectrum.

Sofie Berntsen (1968, Oslo) has had solo exhibitions at, among others, Kunstnernes Hus (2007), Kunstnerforbundet (2009) and OSL contemporary (2012). In 2008 she participated in "Hardcore" at Sorlandets Kunstmuseum and the Beijing Biennale. In 2014 she will have a solo exhibition at the Nationalmuseet in Oslo.