First Floor Galleries and Tower Room
Please note the Tower Room is only accessible via a number of steps
Ikon presents a new exhibition of work by A K Dolven, one of Norway’s most prominent artists. Through a variety of media – painting, installation, film and sound – she is concerned essentially with the representation of sublime natural forces. In this respect she identifies with the renowned nineteenth century Norwegian painter Peder Balke (1804–1887), whose work is also included in the exhibition.
In his landscapes of northern Norway, Balke’s human subjects are dwarfed by their circumstances, as small figures in the landscape, or their presence is implied by modest dwelling places or boats at the mercy of the sea. Whilst sharing Balke’s world view, Dolven’s vision is more overtly philosophical, dealing with the nature of perception and the subconscious functioning of memory and feeling. It is significant that she focuses on densely multisensory situations, in which her main subject is at once very present and resonant with lost time.
In selfportrait, Berlin februar 1989 Lofoten august 2009 (2010), an 8mm film on video, we see the artist in a telling dialogue with herself across time. The earlier footage was shot in West Berlin, overlooking the river Spree which, in early 1989, was part of East Berlin. Standing cold and naked, as she turns the camera around her waistline until the roll of film is used up, all the time she is being watched by East German border police. The later footage, filmed twenty years on, features Dolven making the same gesture with a camera on a mountain top in northern Norway, in the white light of an arctic summer night, overlooking the sea. This self-portrait is ostensibly an artwork about the world beyond whilst being centred on the artist, and her place in time.
A new series of paintings by Dolven alludes to Balke through their medium – the layered application of colour on aluminium panels, small scale and minimalist. But rather than representing bleak landscape, the mix of gesso, cadmium orange and white oil paint results in a human skin tone. The panels bear the wounds of hammer blows, struck hard by the artist into the surfaces that she has carefully prepared. These are the emphatic traces of an artistic act that refers at once both to the marks we make and the marks made on us through a life time.
The exhibition coincides with a new publication, A K Dolven: please return, by Art / Books, priced £29.99 and including texts by Ina Blom, Gaby Hartel, Esther Kinsky, Thomas Macho, Mark Ravenhill and Jonathan Watkins, Ikon Director. Visit Ikon’s online shop for the full range of Ikon’s catalogues and limited editions.