Beneath the Surface

Sunderø Art Gallery´s new artist, Heidi Øiseth, shows a large-scale drawing on canvas in Oslo Cathedral these days. The exhibition is initiated by Østlandsutstillingen as a visual mark on the Lutheran Year and Reformation anniversary in Germany and Norway.

A total of 45 artists from Eastern Norway, Sønderjylland (DK) and Schleswig-Holstein (D) participate in the project, called “… to see with your own eyes … – Freedom of thought”. Their works questions the relationships between contemporary art, spirituality and religion today, and were first exhibited in Kiel in March 2017.

In Norway, works by 16 artists are displayed in four selected church rooms: The Cathedral of Oslo, Bragernes Church in Drammen, Sarpsborg Church and Bøler Church in Oslo. The reformation anniversary reflects that it is 500 years since the German reformer and theologian Martin Luther announced his theses in Wittenberg, leading up to the reformation and formation of the Lutheran Evangelical churches.

Heidi Øiseth refers to her works as drawn carpets. The tactility of her pictures present structures that reminds one of deposits and corrosion, something worn and attempted repaired. Fabrics create memories and link us to the past, to secrets and untold stories. We need those stories, the traditions and affinity to know who we are, to process our lives and not be invisible.

Layers on layers of lines and pigments, Øiseth´s works takes a long time to draw. Her works expresses the value of creating and reflects melancholy and anxiety. In a world where everything moves faster and faster, meditation and tranquillity, slowness and presence, what lasts and what´s cared for is ever more important. Deep beneath the dense surface, and in the lines moving on the canvas, we find a space where the unknown and the known are interwoven.

The exhibitions “… to see with their own eyes” are based on a visual reflection on spirituality, Luther and the importance of reformation in visual arts. How does art reflect religion today? Given the nature of Øiseth´s work, we are tempted to draw a connection to the story of Salome and her dance of the seven veils. The biblical story might be red as a tale of the power of art: Salome performs so beautiful that a spellbound Herodias is willing to give her everything she wants. Even the death of a holy man. We might also see the seven layers of veils as a metaphor for uncovering the truth. As Øiseth points out on her own works; the unspoken lies beneath the dense surface, motionless and vulnerable.

Oslo Cathedral, 06.06-02.07
Saturday – Thursday 10.00-16.00 hrs.
Friday from 16.00 – 06.00 hrs. Saturday morning
Karl Johans gt. 11, 0154 Oslo (NO)