Maibritt Ulvedal Bjelke sees it from her windows. Light shines and lays on it, is reflected, vibrates. Our vision struggles to retain an image as colours, lights and movements form an ensemble, an endless transformation. On the surface, horizontal lines emerge, go up, curve, go down, blend - waves, always different. Faced with this unfolding of events, the spectator is caught, gripped, hypnotized. The powers of perception have no choice but to render. Through the gaze, this whole enters us, synchronizes with our breath, our interior rhythm - we become a wave, we become the sea.
C o l o u r g a l o r e
Far from any representational or naturalistic ambition, Maibritt Ulvedal Bjelke’s most recent works take possession of the spectator similarly to certain natural phenomena. Oval, square, or even rectangular multi-coloured surfaces provoke a true perceptive experience, a sensation both physical and emotional. They are collages made of a multitude of thin strips, cut in large papers run-through with paint drippings. These strips are then pasted on a canvas in order to reconstitute the drippings. Depending on the shift made through the “reconstitution”, the pictorial surface is more or less vibrant, more or less vigorous. This shifting - an irregularity in relation to an initial “order” - creates an intense shimmer. The eye would like to retain, fixate, find rest, stop “the noise”, but the surface resists and triggers a relentless visual play. One is reminded of weaving techniques: the chintz, the jacquard and the Ikat; of bustling pixels from a television that struggles to get reception…
Colour galore - abundance of colours - is the title chosen by the artist for this anniversary exhibition. During her 25 year career, Maibritt Ulvedal Bjelke has continuously developed her research on colour, surface, matter and gesture, by setting procedures.
Step by step, she applies and repeats these systems until a new direction stands out. In this formal order, emotion slips in and a tension appears which gives the artworks their very own identity. Conceived in a dialog between control and letting go, they are both primitive-instinctive, formal and sophisticated. Seen in this perspective, the recent works mark a decisive turn in Maibritt Ulvedal Bjelke’s career: a path towards a new form, a kinetic art, whereas her previous work showed parallels with abstract expressionism and experimentations of the French mouvement Support-Surface.
F r o m o n e a l l - o v e r t o a n o t h e r
By including older works, colour galore also allows to establish a link with Maibritt Ulvedal Bjelke’s beginnings. At the time, her work consisted in thick, irregular layers of street posters that she dipped in paint, forming dense colour fields. Then, while continuing to work with poster paper, she developed a gestural painting that involved the entire body. With time, brushstrokes got narrower and interlaced. The paper was marouflaged on canvas to form a stretched surface better suited for the fast passages of the brushes. And when the space predetermined by the stretcher became too constraining, the artist started to combine narrow stretchers which she first worked on individually in order to create encounters, discoveries, and new tensions.
Since Maibritt Ulvedal Bjelke uses very liquid paint, drippings have always been part of her work. Starting in 2008, they replaced the stroke; juxtaposed, in a regular rhythm, they filled the surfaces. The brush was placed at the top of the surface and the paint, released, started its journey guided by gravity alone… the artist even went as far as using a pipette. These free, vertical and multicoloured movements were then transformed by different compositions: upside down, cut in triangles to form squares and polygons… immense surfaces, or, on the contrary, very small ones. More recently, the artist incorporated the thickness of the medium itself since the work spread on the stretcher’s edges.
Today, the drippings on paper are the basis of the work. Then comes the manual cutting of the thin strips across these drippings, followed by the mounting on the canvas. The fixing of each strip is the result of a specific decision determined by a wish for intense “noise”, regular rhythms, breaks or denser concentrations of colour. The latter attract and guide the eye in its navigation, on and into the pictorial surface. The perception of the person looking varies according to the artwork’s format.
During her twenty-five years of exploration, Maibritt Ulvedal Bjelke’s multi-colour “landscape” has evolved from rough immersion to a meticulous handling guided by the desire to see. A vision that embraces a wide scope while offering hindsight and a step back. The sea always!