Norwegian Artist Wins Prestigious Award

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Norwegian painter and illustrator Vanessa Baird (52) has received the prestigious 2015 Lorck Schive Art Prize.

The Lorck Schive Art Prize (NOK 500,000/$60,000) is held biennially at Norway’s Trondheim Art Museum and is Norway’s biggest art prize. The artist won the prize for a series of large scale wall drawings, which she has titled “I don’t want to be anywhere, but here I am”.

This year’s international jury – Lithuanian curator Raimundas Malašauskas, Norwegian artist Eline Mugaas and Ikon Gallery director Jonathan Watkins – tapped Baird for the top prize, citing her unabashed frankness as a factor, although all the four finalists received a substantial stipend towards creating the work for the exhibition.

The aim of the Lorck Schive Art Prize is to generate debate and interest around contemporary art by honoring excellent artists.

Vanessa Baird exhibited at Gothenburg Art Museum, Sweden
Vanessa Baird exhibited at Gothenburg Art Museum, Sweden

Vanessa Baird’s drawings are intriguing and repulsive all at once with subject matter and scenery running the gamut of entrails and furniture to refugees lost at sea. One portion of the mural contains bears an uncanny resemblance to a widely circulated photograph of a drowned Syrian child. “Entirely coincidental”, Baird explains, “as the work was created before the tragic image went viral.” But poignant nonetheless.

The drawings decorate the walls in one of the rooms in the old Christiania Sparebank’s building, which will soon become Oslo’s new House of Art and Culture.

"For a long time I went early to bed"
“For a long time I went early to bed”

At first sight, when looking at the artist’s watercolors, you might generate a sense of fairy tale charm of children’s illustrated books. But looking closer, you soon realize that her drawings are hardly suitable for young children. She has just finished illustrating the book “In Autumn” (Om høsten) by Karl Ove Knausgaard.

Her intensely detailed pastel drawings are a colorful eruption of chaos, and Vanessa Baird often works with watercolor and pastel, creating a mix of intimate and large scale works. A previous work (The light fades – if only we close our eyes) was taken down from the Ministry of Helath building in 2013, after associations were made with the bombings of 22 July in Oslo.

Baird’s watercolor tableaux are both sensual and grotesque at the same time.

"To everything there is a season"
“To everything there is a season”

The artist has at present an exhibition in Trondheim Art Museum, and will later exhibit in Artists’s House in Oslo and at The Munch Museum in Oslo.

When the magazine Wallpaper asked Baird if Norway inspired or lead her work in any way, she answered: “As I don’t have any other experience than being born and brought up in Norway I wouldn’t know”.

Norwegian Artist Wins Prestigious Award, written by Admin