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Det kollektive mennesket/ Minner om oss

Sverre Bjertnæs

November 18 – December 18, 2016

Press Release

It's our pleasure to present Sverre Bjertnæs’ (1976, Thronheim) second solo exhibition at Galleri Brandstrup, «Det kollektive mennesket/ Minner om oss». The exhibition is the result of a collaboration between the artist and the playwright Arne Lygre, who has focused on joining theater and the visual art as leveled artistic expressions. In addition to this, Bjertnæs will show an installation at Galleri Brandstrup’s temporary gallery titled “Jeg blir sittende så lenge jeg kan”. Together he will present 22 oil paintings, 15 sculptures and eight drawings – all new works.


The sculpture “Det kollektive mennesket” is the foundation of the exhibition, of which was Lygres inspiration in creating the play “Minner om oss”. The play will be shown every Sunday including December 18, and will be an integrated part of the exhibition. After the play is acted out in the gallery, the chairs used by the audience are placed around in the exhibition space, as silent witnesses of the happening.


- The sculpture “Det kollektive mennesket” became the starting point for Arne Lygre’s new text. We have been working on it back and forth, with the text and the sculpture as two equal elements. Arne’s form is emotionally relatable, a quality I find highly valuable and of great importance in my own art. You can say it’s a way of working with memory, which is very close to the way I work with my art, says Bjertnæs.


Lygre has used different elements from the sculpture in «Minner om oss», a story about a married couple who loses their child. The actors are Madalena Sousa Helly-Hansen, Olav Waastad and Elias Holmen Sørensen, and Johannes Holmen Dahl performs the directing. He has also worked together with Lygre on his critically acclaimed play “La deg være”, now showing at the National Theatre in Oslo. Bjertnæs contacted Lygre in 2014, after seeing “Ingenting av meg” at Det Norske Teateret, and the unusual teamwork between the two will be further developed into two new sculptures and plays, which is to be realized over the next four years.


- I have never said yes to this before, to base my own work on someone else’s projects, but when Sverre got in touch and started to talk about a possible collaboration, I got curious. I wanted to work in a context of which I have never worked before, and in addition I wanted to work with a one part play. Sverre showed me a model of the sculpture ‘Det kollektive mennesket’, and wanted a short drama which could be incorporated in the work. As I was considering, I was able to bring the model home with me, and decided to give it a try. After a while I started to collect my thoughts, and found that there was a type of desperation in the sculpture, a need to seek together. The monumental nature of the sculpture reminded me of the feeling of having to remember, this is what started my work with the text of “Minner om oss”, says Arne Lygre.


Both the exhibition «Det kollektive mennesket/ Minner om oss» and «Jeg blir sittende så lenge jeg kan» follows a curatorial model Bjertnæs continusly works with. The first room in the exhibition revolves around the subject of a cultural collective memory. In the sculptures one can by example find many biblical references, two different variations of “Jobs datter” and one sculpture with the title “Kains hustru”. The subjects in the drawings in the same room, revolves around a culture historical experiment, where the artist wants to make the viewer question their sense of what representation contains and what art history really is. In the drawings you can see one type of style resembeling a fairytale-like national romanticism, another is the seventies modernism and also our contemporary abstraction.


This relationship to art history is also a continuous subject in the paintings in the exhibition, where Bjertnæs has focused on the historical (Norwegian) national painting – the work “Det store bildet” is by example a form of life frieze. The artist has let himself be fascinated with the great Norwegian painters, which also reminds us about how we relate to different artforms and styles, and one can see traces of Arne Ekeland, Håkon Bleken, Henrik Sørensen and Odd Nerdrum. In «Det kollektive mennesket/ Minner om oss» Bjertnæs demonstrates how he approaches the visual arts as a constant creative process, withour a linear story.