Making art ... and all the rest

Tree of Knowledge

Having an exhibition is fun, inspiring and exciting. I love sharing my images with the public, and getting their response. But of course: it is also a lot of work. Not only with what you see when you visit the exhibition: The artworks. But as I do not have a multitude of assistants, all the other work also has to be done by me. Not that I complain, I find most of it interesting, but I find me changing hats a lot these months. Ordering frames. Reserving time at the printers. Writing press releases. Finding out to whom these should go. Answering interviews. Sending press photos. Meeting the gallery, planning the opening. Busy like a bee I flutter about, trying to think about everything and to forget nothing! Four weeks to go! :D

I sent the press releases a couple of weeks ago, and now I am starting to get response. I have been interviewed by an Italian art website and a German gay magazine so far, coming up in a couple of days is a large American magazine I understand. I am very happy that the images and the concept catches their interest! I'll show you the text of the release here, as it is quite a concise presentation of what the exhibition is all about:


The art of shame

It is shame that is the subject for the new series of post-photographic works from the Norwegian artist Trygve Skogrand. Not any shame, but the deep shame you feel when you know that you are ugly, when you are certain that you are all wrong. This is the shame of the subgroups of society.

We all inherit the values and prejudices of our society. This is even so when the prejudices are against the subgroup that you are self a part of. This can leave you with subconscious prejudices against yourself – a shame of being who you are.

”I believe that many feels this shame. Whether you are too thick, old, handicapped, have mental problems, are poor, unemployed, an immigrant - the list goes on and on - you risk ending up with this deep certainty: I am unacceptable.”
TRYGVE SKOGRAND

In the exhibition "The Theatre of Shame" the artist Trygve Skogrand investigates this shame, taking as the starting point his own self-biographical story about being a homosexual Christian.

The artist uses his own disclosed body as artistic raw material for the post-photographic works. The pictures show meticulously constructed figures, built up from a series of self-portraits, inhabiting constructed landscapes and settings, where the process of discovering the systems of this shaming of subgroups is examined.

Two works from the series have recently been exhibited in London and in Edinburgh. In the upcoming exhibition the complete series will be exhibited for the first time.

Trygve Skogrand is born in Sunndalen, Norway in 1967. He works mainly with post-photographic art, and has exhibited in Scandinavia, Italy and the UK. Skogrand lives and works in Malmö, Sweden.

What: ”The Theatre of Shame”, post-photographic works by Trygve Skogrand
Where: Vasli Souza Gallery, Malmö
When: 27th March – 26th April 2015
Press showing: Thursday 26th March 1 pm and by appointment

The name of an artwork

Invisible man

With just over a month to go to the large "Theatre of Shame" exhibition in March, I keep busy finishing the last artworks, contacting the press, doing interviews and planning the opening with the gallery. Creating these artworks has been a two year process, so it will be very interesting for me to finally show them to the public!

Part of the last work I do before an exhibition, is deciding on the titles of the works. I suppose this is very different from artist to artist, some may know what an artwork is called quite early in the process, some doesn't want it to be called anything, and for some the name becomes clear during the process. For me, a late arrival of the title is more the norm. When I work with an artwork, I work visually, emotionally, and do not think in titles or words at all. Making visual art is for me an exercise in speaking without words, saying things that may be between what words clumsily pins down. So finding a "title" for a work is no easy job. I do not want the title to lock the reading of the picture - just invite the viewer to look closer and see what she experiences meeting the picture. An easy way out would be to go for the "Untitled"-tag, but I have discovered that for me at last that doesn't work. Meeting an "untitled" artwork on an exhibition, I find that the distance to the picture grows larger, not smaller. Untitled means "neutral" to me, so I have to try to get over the titling hurdle in another way.

So I end up experimenting. Writing a lot of possible titles for the artwork next to it, and see what sticks, what feels right. This new artwork for example, from the Theatre of Shame-series, has still no name. I suppose it is about waiting patiently in ones self-imposed enclosure, but what is its name? These last days it has been called "Unlikely Hero", "A Thousand Prayers", "Engulfed", "Permeated by Fog". None of these seem right. I keep on looking, hoping the right nomination will turn up before the opening. If not, "untitled" it will have to be.

My shameful art

Stage

I know. Shame isn't a thing that we like to talk about. Of course we don't, because it is shameful in it self. But I think it is an important force in our world, shaping both lives and the society. And as it is rather a taboo to talk about, it works undetected.

There are several types of shame, I think, of varying depth and seriousness. From simple embarrassment over doing something daft, via moral shame over having hurt somebody, to the deep personal shame about being who you are.

It is this shame I make art about.

In the exhibition "The Theatre of Shame" I have used my own life story as a Christian homosexual as a starting point to tell a story of shame, the shame of belonging to one of society's subgroups.

As a member of society, one inherits society's values and prejudices. That is so even when the prejudices are against the sub-group oneself belongs to. So you end up with prejudices against yourself. In the artworks I discuss the hidden shame this creates – the deep, subconscious shame that says: I am not good enough, I am ugly, I do not fit in, I am all wrong.

Of course, being homosexual is not the only group that risks this. For example: Are you poor? Ill? Old? Too fat? Too thin? Has your skin the "wrong" colour? And so on and on. For centuries and centuries, and still in many parts of the world, a very large group of people was in such a group: Are you female?

Angel

When I started working with the artworks two years ago, I called the series "De-Shamed", thinking I was. Well. For now I call it "The Theatre of Shame", meaning the private theatre inside of each one of us where the small story of shame is played out, with yourself as actor, playwright and audience. But of course - in one way one may as well call all of society "The Theatre of Shame" as well.

The artworks are post-photographic works. Using my own disclosed, naked body as the artistic raw material, each image is built up as a collage of a large series of nudes, combining to create a new figure. The landscape this constructed figure inhabits, is also a constructed collage of realities. So it is all in the mind, it is all constructed. But still so very true, I am afraid.

Corridor cramped

Some of the artworks from "The Theatre of Shame" series has been exhibited in London and on the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh. In March and April the whole series will be exhibited for the first time, at the Vasli Souza Gallery in Malmö, Sweden. I am very excited to show this series

Planning the first exhibition of the year

triptych-720p

After the poetic exhibition of the «Myths Untold»-series before Christmas, the new year starts on a quite different note: a large series about shame! Today it is exactly ten weeks left to the opening of the exhibition «The Theatre of Shame» at the Vasli Souza gallery here in Malmö, Sweden. That will be ten weeks of interesting work: finishing, revising, producing, framing, marketing and hanging. And then: the opening on the 27th of March!

Yesterday I visited the gallery again to take measurements to plan the hanging, and to discuss plans with the curators. They have a couple of very interesting ideas for the exhibition and the opening, - I will tell you more later.

The works are a suite of post-photographic works, using fragmented self-portraits to tell a story about shame. The series of 24 works have been two years in the making, so I am very excited to show it to the public at last!

A Christmas exhibition of forgotten fairytales

IMG_6885

This week I am having a small solo show here in Malmö, Sweden. The exhibition is called «Forgotten Fairytales», and shows art from the «Myths Untoid» series. These artworks looks quite different from my usual photo-based work, but is actually not that dissimilar: this is also analog material, reassembled in the computer to the finished artwork. But instead of using photos as the starting point, these images use watercolours.

winter_meeting

I see these images as glimpses into archetypes, myths, or stories yet untold. When I start out with an image, I work totally abstract with watercolour on paper. Adding washes, letting the paint flow, turning the sheet around and starting another layer with colour. Suddenly I seem to see something: The head of a horse, a lady turning around, a castle on a hill. With this glimpse of a story in mind, I continue painting. Then I scan the image into my computer to continue working towards the finished artworks, adding layers and fills of photographic textures, parts of old portraits, some historic brocade, whatever that the picture seems to be wanting.

10172817_365841453585137_5494344821965226209_n

I see the whole process as a semi-controlled deep dive into a kind of jungian subconscious, and a most interesting process it is for me as the artist. For now the «Myths Untold» exists only as these images, but perhaps someone will tell more of them - someday?

"Ein außergewöhnliches Weihnachtsbuch"

1422420_228311087338175_1640038794_n

The German book using my post-photographic art on the Nativity has been out some weeks now. It will be very interesting later to hear how the reception has been in the German market. For now, I have newly received a review from a German Catholic news portal, saying that the book and its art is new, original and indeed: «exceptional»! Hearing that made a very happy Christmas for me at last! :)

«Ein außergewöhnliches Weihnachtsbuch haben der norwegische Künstler Trygve Skogrand und der Priester und Dichter Andreas Knapp geschaffen. Zunächst reduzieren sie den Aufbau jeder Buchseiten immer wiederkehrend auf das Nötigste: einen Evangelienabschnitt aus dem Lukas- bzw. Matthäusevangelium, ein kurzes Gedicht und ein ganzseitiges Bild. Ungewöhnlich scheint dies nicht zu sein und doch verweilt das Auge unmittelbar bei den Weihnachtsdarstellungen von Trygve Skogrand.

Alles spielt im öffentlichen Raum: fotografische Szenen aus dem Alltag (u.a. aus Einkaufszentren, S-Bahn-Unterführungen, Straßenbrücken, Flughäfen) werden in ein Bild mit Ausschnitten klassischer Weihnachtsgemälde (u.a. von Rembrandt, Raffael, Fra Angelico) oder der Kunst der Nazarener gesetzt. Die Verfremdung führt dazu, sowohl neu auf die Straßensituationen, wie auch auf die Kunst zu schauen. Auf einmal sind die Werke der alten Meister nicht mehr vertraut, die vermeintliche Idylle des Stalles wird hinterfragt. Die Rolle der Engel für das Leben der Menschen erhält eine neue und vielleicht ursprüngliche Bedeutung. Bei den fotografischen Szenen der Jetztzeit fällt auf, dass die abgebildeten Personen als heimatlos oder gehetzt dargestellt werden, sie sind der Kälte und Härte der Welt schutzlos ausgesetzt. Von dem biblischen Geschehen nehmen sie nicht Notiz.»

Spending Christmas in Edinburgh. My artwork, that is.

B41ziEqCcAEZn3b.jpg-large

It is very gratifying, of course, having an artwork at the RSA open this year. But it seems rather abstract and strange participating in an exhibition that I haven’t seen. There my artwork is hanging now, in the halls of the Royal Academy of Arts, on the «Mound» in Edinburgh. My little post-photographic piece, showing a small boat with lots of me inside. All alone my poor little artwork, it feels like! :)

So I was very happy when I received an photo of the artwork - hanging there in the exhibition - from a thoughtful and kind co-exhibitor «TERRIBLEm86» on Twitter the other day: «Hey @skogrand I saw your piece @RoyalScotAcad yesterday for the #rsaopen - looked great!». Thanks a lot, that made me very glad to see! :)

In the studio with both of me

rart2

It is four months to go to the opening of the exhibition of my ”Theatre of Shame”-series. As I was working with the series, I saw that I needed some new material to develop a handful of new ideas. The subject matter is shame, and the artistic material is my own body, and to be honest: I always feel a bit embarrassed when I am going to start working on this series, especially the photographic work.

That may of course be a good thing, a series about shame should be a bit shameful, even for the artist himself. Anyway, the end result is that I have been procrastinating, as if I was going to step into a cold river: ”Not today”, ”perhaps tomorrow”, ”next week is better”. You know. But of course, finally one just have to get going. And anyway: the light was very good today!

strange

And of course, as soon as I start working, it isn’t embarrassing at all, just interesting and necessary work. When I am working it isn’t about me or even my body anymore, but simply about the artworks themselves. Getting the photos right, getting the idea into the artworks and then to work with the picture’s own logic to let the idea develop. The shameful procrastinating me is forgotten, and I am working deep and fast. It is almost feels as if there are two of me: ”private me” and ”artist me”. Perhaps many artists feel like this?

Not all joys are digital

IMG_6606


This week-end was most enjoyable. I took part in a workshop at the KKV, Artists Collective Workshops here in Malmö, learning the basics of making prints using the photopolymer technique. In my work I always go from something analogue to a digital artwork, so it was very nice and refreshing to go the other way for once! And great fun to spend the week-end together with other fellow-artists here in Malmö, in an old converted factory hall, surrounded by printing presses, vacuum-tables and whatnots.

IMG_6643

Starting out with photoshop-files, one produce transparent films to create the printing plates from. The films are beautiful in them self I think, but then I have always loved transparency, reflections - and foggy half images.

IMG_6650

After hours of work, I had made my printing plates. Shiny and metallic in the blank areas, and a lovely matte green in the areas where the ink will fasten. It feels like a shame to smear it with ink!

IMG_6652

Colours ready mixed, papers wetted, time to colour the plates and make some prints.

IMG_6656

A digital collage made into an analogue, traditional print. I like this! :D

IMG_6649

For fun I tried out working on one of the shots from my Instagram-feed as well, from a foggy day last summer in our beloved Lofoten islands. I was very happy with the results, - maybe I have to do a print exhibition next year?

At the Royal Scottish Academy of Arts

edinburgh

What wonderful, happy news! One of my artworks has been chosen by the jury to be exhibited in wonderful Edinburgh. And not in any old dusty gallery, but in the Royal Scottish Academy itself!

rsa

My artwork will be part of the renowned ”RSA Open Exhibition of Art” at the Royal Scottish Academy. The exhibition has an over 180 years old history at the Academy, ”celebrating the best of contemporary practice”. I am VERY happy and proud to be allowed to have a artwork shown here!

The exhibition will be open to the public from the 29th of November 2014 to the 20th of January 2015.

Rock my boat

The artwork that I have in the exhibition is titled ”Rock my boat”, it is from of a larger series of self-portrait based works about shame. The complete series will be shown at the Vasli Souza Gallery here in Malmö March-April 2015, more about that later. Today I celebrate Scotland, Edinburgh, The Royal Scottish Academy of Arts! Hurray!

Working towards the Christmas show

A friend of us has a small gallery in the city centre, and I am having a one-week solo show there the week before Christmas. Nothing spectacular and shocking in this exhibition, it will be art suitable for the season and occasion. I plan to exhibit a series of my ”Myths untold” digital/watercolours, and one wall with artworks from the ”Christmas Story” series. As it is the week before Christmas, I hope to make the event cosy and christmassy in addition to arty - so I am certain there will be lots of glögg and gingersnaps - and fresh art, of course. I plan to have an glögg-evening in addition to the opening. More info on this, the opening, date&time and address will come in a few weeks here and on my Facebook-page: https://www.facebook.com/trygveskograndartist

juleutstilling

I can´t wait for december and the snow to come, so I have photoshopped a possible preview of how I hope it will look on the day... :D

Neue Weihnachten

Weihnachten Buch

I just got the brand new German books in the post, and they look very good. The book "Und er sucht Platz unter uns" is based on my artworks Christmas Story, where I explore the subjects of holiness versus the commonplace by blending old Christian art with modern photographs. The German poet Andreas Knapp has written poems inspired by the pictures - a new twist, but I find it interesting. This is the first time my art is published as a whole book outside of Norway, and I am very happy!

Preparing an exhibition

Today I am going through the test prints of the works to the upcoming exhibition of the ”Theatre of Shame” series. It is strange, I have looked at these pictures on the screen again and again, but seeing them on print makes me see the artworks in quite a different way. This is an excellent help in seeing what things to change, killing some darlings, getting ideas to make some artworks better (hopefully), and ideas to new works in the series. An interesting stage in the process!

image2

Some of the selected works, with ideas for further work.

image1

Some of the works are finally scrapped in this stage of the process. This one will leave the exhibition now, please. :)

Post photographic new media art or whatnot



The terrible light

I used to wonder what to call my type of art. In contact with galleries and suchlike one needs a quick and easy label, I thought, to give an idea about what kind of art I was making. No painter, no sculptor, no printer of obscure graphic techniques – all that was clear. But what should I call it, my collaging of photos into photos, paintings into photos into textures? It seemed to be having a changing definition actually. When I started out, it was called post modern. For a short period, the right word seemed to be post surrealistic. Or was it to be called New Media Art? Perhaps that as well. Now I learn that the latest term is post photographic art. Well! The times they are changing, but I still am working with my art with the same techniques. So now I just let the labellers keep on with their labelling, while I just go on making art. And you may call it what you like.

Art for Christmas

1383765_228311140671503_907266225_n

Christmas is less than three months away. In a new beautiful gift book from Echter Verlag, the images from my ”Christmas Story” series are put together with the christmas story from the bible, and poems from the german poet Andreas Knapp. At the same time, I get reports from the Bridgeman Art Library in London that many are licensing my artworks from both the ”Christmas Story” and ”Sacred Pilgrims” series to give a contemporary and thoughtful look at Christmas this year. I am very happy that my art can reach new audiences in such ways!

The shameful works

Silent room

It was great fun showing my fairytale-ish digital watercolours at Gallery Night here in Malmö. Now it is back to serious business. It is six months to the big show THE THEATRE OF SHAME at the Vasli Souza gallery, an exhibition I am really looking forward to! The months until new year I’ll be working to get all the images ready. First thing: get some more photos shot for the remaining artworks!

Artwork shown here is ”The Silent Room” from the upcoming exhibition.

Pop-up in the Gallery Night

Had a very fun day yesterday with our pop-up exhibition in the Gallery Night here in Malmö in Sweden. This is a big event, where all galleries in the city have open from 6pm to midnight, with lots of exhibition openings and happenings going on. We were a group of 5 artist that put together an exhibition in a parking garage in the middle of the art district. A rough and cool place to show our art!

IMG_5709



IMG_5703


IMG_5711

Out with the cars, in with the art! Really a cool place to show our art! :)

IMG_5726

6 pm and we´re open: and a steady stream of visitors start flowing down into our impromptu garage gallery.

IMG_5725

What a night! Hundreds and hundreds of happy Gallery Night visitors thronging the art garage during the night, looking at the artworks, discussing with us artists, buying art. Really a cool and inspiring happening for all of us artists!

Published in Germany!

81Ak2Nd-PLL

How utterly lovely! Just saw that the German version of ”The Christmas Story” is now published and out in the shops! It has taken some years before this matured, but now the book is relay out there, and I am very, very happy! Since the Norwegian edition I have polished some of the artworks somewhat, so this is a bit like a ”remastered edition”. My artworks and the texts from the bible is accompanied by poems by the German poet Andreas Knapp, from what I have seen poetic and thoughtful compositions that go very well indeed with the other elements. The printed books are on their way from Germany, – I can’t wait to see them! :)

The German edition is published by Echter Verlag in Würtzburg, you can see the book on Amazon here, this in on Amazon.de but I am certain it is on the sister sites as well.

Art to the young

theme_pages-WEB

The International education network SABIS international has licensed some of my artworks through the Bridgeman Art Library, for a book in their ”Anthology” series for young school children. It feels very nice to think of that my art can reach people in such a way, and that perhaps I through this can inspire creativity and interest in art in young people.

artist_info_web

On the page presenting me as an artist, we have written a bit about me, and about how I made the artworks used in the book. Perhaps I can inspire the children to make some New Media Art themselves?

A very nice surprise

Screen Shot 2014-09-19 at 15.03.51

Got a lovely email today from a woman in Poland. It turns out that writing about one of my artworks is given as homework to Polish children, aged 12 – and she wanted to ask me some questions about my 2009 artwork ”Midsummer Nights Dream”. What a very nice surprise that one is suddenly in a school’s curriculum!

Pop-up soon popping up

10628387_335251089977507_5703415766471720552_n

I am working towards a pop-up exhibition on Malmö's Gallery Night this autumn. The day - or more exactly, the night - is only two weeks ahead, so I am very busy finishing and polishing the pictures that I will show there. My works will be new pictures from the series "Myths untold”, a series of digital/watercolour works that I see as glimpses into lost stories and forgotten myths.

The times they are always changing

1560572_279217448914205_345898213_n

I do my artistic work on my mac, combining photos, paintings and whatnot to get the expression I am after. That means that my work is classed as "New Media"-art. For some reason this kind of artistic expression isn't quite accepted yet. Time after time I've heard from audience or galleries: But... do you paint the pictures? - Well, no. But at least you take the photos yourself? Er, no, not necessarily. And then I have to explain, that sometimes I use my own photos or paintings as artistic raw material, other times photos I have found on the Internet that fits with what I am after. "Oh! You use PHOTOSHOP!" they exclaim and run screaming away.

Of course, it was the same when artists started to experiment with acrylics instead of oil paint. And I suppose Jan van Eyck got the same reaction when he started using oil paint back in the 15th century, - after all it only is egg tempera that makes Real Art... :D

An Angel of peace

The Dearest One

We live in a time of trouble and worry, as many others before us have – of course. But still, the growth of aggression and lessening of generosity and understanding is both sad and troubling, I feel. This summer I've made this artwork of an angel of Gods' peace and love, I call it "The Dearest One".

Dreamers

6803_338679532967996_1416572025235972202_n

It's so easy to spend one's life simply longing. Longing to get home from work. Longing for the week-end. Longing to pay-day. Longing for Christmas. Longing for summer. Longing to be a pensioner.

It's so easy to spend one's life simply hoping. Hoping to win in the lottery. Hoping that everything will change. One day.

It's so easy to spend one's life simply dreaming. Sitting in front of the TV. Reading a book. Watching a movie. Surfing the internet. Escaping on a holiday to the south. Dreaming.

One has to start living instead.

Ill-fitting theories

phi-spiral

Some of our central constants is rather odd and doesn't quite "fit in". Doing math on a circle leaves you working with π, which is 3.14159261... (decimals on to infinity). A square is not much better, there you suddenly stumble over the square root of 2, just as long and curious. And the central geometric constant of aestethics, and nature – the golden mean – phi, is in the same way without end. Could it possibly be that our mathematics doesn't quite fit the world, when these central constants turn out so strange in the mathematical system? Or - is it simply so that
neither geometric constants nor mathematical simplicity can excactly decribe a knobbly and strange universe?
© 2017 Trygve Skogrand / The Bridgeman Art Library