Sofie Berntsen Landskap Fra Hadeland 014

Sofie Berntsen

Landskap fra Hadeland

OSL contemporary has the pleasure of inviting you to OSL series: Sofie Berntsen 'Landskap fra Hadeland (Landscapes from Hadeland)' to celebrate the launch of her new artist book and accompanying exhibition of the same name.

The Exhibition Opening is on Thursday 22 February, 18.00-20.00

The Book Launch, OSL series: Sofie Berntsen 'Landskap fra Hadeland', is on Thursday, 29 February, 18.00-19.00 (full programme TBA)

Landskap fra Hadeland

Edited extract from Bjørn Hatterud’s text “i skogen kan vi legge fra oss alt” for the book “Landskap fra Hadeland”

Let us look more closely at Berntsen’s new pictures. In the gallery space, the discreetly framed works hang side by side around the room and form a frieze. The order in which they appear in the frieze is the same as they are reproduced in the book.

The motifs are tangible. They are drawn from the woods behind Berntsen’s studio and the view from her studio window. At the same time, some of the motifs have been abstracted into lines, fields, colours and gestures. Although we can recognise outlines and shapes from the woods and the view, even in the most abstract representations, they draw on various non-figurative artists, ranging from Wassily Kandinsky (1866–1944) to Günther Förg (1952–2013). In some of the drawings, the woods and the view are reproduced in a way that is perceptible to all. In others, they are presented as Berntsen experiences them.

In recent years, Berntsen has explored the potential of various types of oil pastels. By using five different brands, she has around 400 colours to choose from. As she works her way through the woods and the landscape, the process is both documentation, experimentation and meditation. The pastels are sometimes used on found paper that she reuses, other times on paper made of recycled materials.

Together the pictures form a wider landscape. They are just as much a narrative, bringing us through the woods, behind the light beneath the tree canopy, out to the view. At the same time, we can also read the works as a journey inward, in pursuit of what Olav H. Hauge referred to as a shelter in the woods, a place in the mind for internal productive calm. A place to work artistically in peace.

By stepping into the woods behind the studio, Berntsen enters the same landscape where a bear has recently ambled, and I ask if she is not frightened. She was frightened of the woods as a child, she replies, flying insects, crawling ants and the darkness of the soil. Now she likes the woods. I ask if she walks by herself, and she replies that it is what she prefers most of all. Or silently in the company of someone she can relax with. It is so intensely quiet. The senses are tuned in differently in the woods. The rustle of the leaves, the smells, the light between the trees. The feeling of reverence where the woods open out and the view reveals itself. It is those experiences that she draws on this time.

You can be free of social pressures in the woods. The woods expect nothing of you. You do not exist as a social individual in the woods; comparisons with other people disappear. You are not graded, assessed or put in social boxes. In the woods, you put aside perceptions about who you should be; you see your reflection in the woods, not in other people. In conversation with an entire forest, worries and considerations about who you are become meaningless, because in the forest you are simply just another human animal moving through. A human animal that stops to listen to the woods or gaze at the landscape. Who knows themselves to be part of something much larger, older and more enduring than socially constructed rules.

In the forest, we can put aside all that, whether we fit in or not, whether our life is successful in the eyes of others or not. The woods judge no one. In this freedom from thoughts of who we are, which the woods grant us, the senses are opened. We are in the world and see the world in a different way. We find time to experience how we see the world.

It can be as simple as that, in fact. That, this time, the meaning of Sofie Berntsen’s works is to show the female explorer from the inside. The gaze of a person who walks alone in nature.

In the new works, we are permitted to experience what it feels like to discover. How you see the world when you are truly alone in it, where you can absorb the surroundings when you do not need to take account of other people’s opinions.

- Bjørn Hatterud

Sofie Berntsen (born 1968 in Oslo, Norway) is educated in Paris at the Ecole Superieure
D’Arts Graphique (1988-1989) and Parsons School of Design, BFA, Paris (1989-1993), and the School of Visual Arts (1994-1995) in New York. She has participated in numerous group exhibitions both at home and abroad, and has had solo shows at, among others, Kunstnernes Hus in Oslo, Gallery F15, Akershus Art Centre and the Munch Museum, as well as at the National Museum in Oslo in 2014 and in 2019 at Kristiansand Kunsthall. Her work is represented in key private and public collections. Sofie Berntsen lives and works in Oslo.

Bjørn Hatterud (born 1977) has an interdisciplinary artistic practice, with an extensive series of projects and publications in various genres and methods of expression. In his body of work, he is particularly concerned with the paired opposites of high and low culture; conformity and resistance; normality and deviation. He has received the prize, ‘bibliotekenes litteraturpris og kritikerprisen’ for his book ‘Mjøsa round med mor’, and the ‘Fritt Ord’s Prize’ together with Jan Grue and Olaug Nilsen for their work helping to empower people with disabilities. His most recent book is ‘Blokka på Bjerke’ (Samlaget 2023), his latest curatorial project Vestlandsutstillingen 2024, and the latest music release in collaboration with Julian Orlin Espe (Case Records 2023) entitled ‘Schattenreiche’.