by Anna Sörenson Rydh
Gunnel Wåhlstrand creates large-size ink washes in soft grey tones and subdued colours of photos from her own family album. Perhaps the paintings resemble all our family albums, our history and the passing time. Gunnel Wåhlstrand became very inspired by the flowing portraits painted by Marlene Dumas and by a book on photographs by Roland Barth. She works on one painting at a time applying multiple layers of soft hues with relatively small brushes. Each work usually takes her 4-6 months to complete. She seeks to investigate the properties of darkness and light. Even though her works resemble black-and-white photographs Gunnel Wåhlstrand seldom uses pure black. Instead she tends to use coloured ink that she carefully mixes with water and tests numerous times to find the right tones. She uses a super permanent ink and is not able to make any changes once the ink is dry – and this is an important aspect of her working method. For reference material she originally used the family photos from the 60’s, but now she more frequently makes use of her own contemporary photos, mostly of nature.
Sigtryggur Bjarni Baldvinsson
by Ingrid Elsa Maria Ogenstedt
In his paintings Sigtryggur Bjarni Baldvinsson emphasizes the structures and orders of nature. He wishes to depict nature’s fragility and resistance and our responsibility towards the environment. He has developed a deep connection with a remote valley in the northern part of Iceland where he and his wife bought a farm and some land in 2006. He visits the place quite often and has noticed some changes since then. The migration of fish has become unpredictable, salmons on their way up the river to spawn are swept out to the sea again, and the landscape has been damaged by a number of floods and erosions. Before starting a painting he needs to have a “conversation” with nature for several hours finding flowers or picking out sceneries. During this part of the process he must be alone and uninterrupted. Later on he organizes and edits the photos he took to create references for his paintings. “I tend to focus on one detail at a time. For now I concentrate on flowers, growths, and fish – almost as a religious praise to the various components of the landscape”.
by Line Ulekleiv
The Norwegian artist Vanessa Baird works primarily with pastels, watercolours and drawings on paper in a figurative expressionistic style. Her manner is fabulating and sometimes grotesque. There is a vibrant political nerve in Vanessa Bairds works. By making use of watercolour as a medium she plays with the stereotypes of feminine activities, but she redefines the tender nuances of the medium. She paints with a realism that is anchored in the European fairy-tale world with classic archetypes that she twist in a surreal manner. Animals as fables of human behaviour and interconnection between humans and animals that sometimes resemble the works of the Norwegian artist Louis Moe. Vanessa Baird also explores the ambivalent relationship between mother and child, where the child often seems to devour the mother’s energy in a monstrous way. Female identity issues and taboos are highlighted and many of the female characters in her works seem to resemble the artist herself. In the detailed watercolour paintings Vanessa Baird alternates between a personal and mythological narrative.
Ida Rödén – artist on a arctic expedition
by Ida Rödén
From the 7th of May to the 15th of June 2023 I was invited by the Polar Research Secretariat to travel across the Arctic Sea on board the icebreaker Oden following a long tradition of including artists in expeditions. The starting point of my expedition was on the island of Svalbard. Including the crew and researchers we were 74 people on board. Life on board was simple: meals were served at fixed times, not much clothing to choose from, no social media and hardly even the news reached us. When I try to describe the beauty of the arctic ice I feel my heart ache for a love I will never again experience. After having fought our way through open crevices in the ice, the engine of the Oden was shut down and we stayed on the ice for 6 weeks venturing on daily research trips with the ship as our base. We observed around 30 polar bears and many of them did some damage to our snow scooters and other equipment. I painted the ice, our walks, the researchers at work, and the polar bear scouts with their binoculars. The colours were simple: the whiteness of the paper, violet, payne’s grey, cerulean blue, and ochre.