Denmark, Norway and Sweden have long enjoyed significant gender parity and government support for creative endeavors. Meet some contemporary female veterans as well as newcomers on the Scandinavian scene. Here we present 9 Scandinavian contemporary female artists.
The Scandinavian countries have in many ways become models regarding welfare and climate changes. While some of these nine artists explicitly reflect politics in their work, most of them seem more like they have benefited from a culture that esteems and bolster their art.
Siri Aurdal (b 1937) from Norway
When she was a little girl, her dad and artist Leon Aurdal taught her about the Earth’s rotation around its own axis and the sun with the help of a ball of yarn and a lamp. This is how she became aware of the meaning of light, she says. “He handed me the globe.»
Siri Aurdal is both a graphic designer and painter, but her main field has been sculpture and work with sculpture. She has made a number of busts of famous Norwegian people, including Earle Hyman (1963) and Svend von Düring and Ludvig Eikaas (1965).
In February 1969, she won a competition to decorate schools in Oslo. In 1979, she made a large relief in aluminum for one of the train stations in Oslo.
Ida Ekblad (b 1980) from Norway
Ida Ekblad is probably Norway’s fastest rising young star. Her expressionist paintings are inspired by a wide variety of art historical references
Ample government spending has made it possible for Ida Ekblad to make her picturesque coastal landscapes, often with ubiquitous green energy, socially progressive policy and smart minimalist design.
Ida Ekblad is both a painter, sculptor, performance artist, filmmaker and poet. Her paintings are recognizable by her bold application of color and the attentive use of found materials.
Elisabeth Haarr (b 1946) from Norway
As a textile artist, Elisabeth Haarr was a representative of “the little art”. That’s why she once made a rug with Dolly Parton who represents the little art of music. She once said that her ambition was to surpass Elvis Presley.
Elisabeth Harr is one of Norway’s most exciting and influential textile artists. She has been making textile art for more than five decades expressing political issues in a strong but poetic way. Haarr’s career bridges a woven tradition developed by artists such as Hannah Ryggen and Synnøve Anker Aurdal.
Tori Wrånes (b. 1978) from Norway
Wrånes is one of the few contemporary artists who has made a career out of troll-related artwork and performances. She has created photographs, films and sculptures depicting the mythical creatures in diverse settings, e. g. a photography of a fringe-clad troll reclined across the hood of a car in the middle og a desert and a sculpture of a two-headed troll in white Nikes, holding her tail between her legs (at its end was a microphone).
“I think about the troll as a way to free identity, to play with characters. I think we’re all trolls,” she says.
Nina Beier (b. 1975) from Denmark
Beier drills down to the socio-historical implications of objects which she re-contextualizes in unlikely settings. Her unexpected installations contain oversized wine glasses filled with materialized stock images, images of ties bought on Ebay or a car head resting in leather protrude from granite monoliths.
She now lives and works in Berlin. Beier’s work pinpoints moments of confusion between the image and what it depicts to show complex affiliations in which meaning is never stable.
You may also like: Fine Art Collections in Copenhagen
Czech-born Zdenka Rusova (b. 1939) living and working in Norway
She chose a career as an artist role and opted out of the traditional women role with responsibility for home, children and care. “After all, I was born in 1939 and not 1000 years before Christ,» she says and adds with the directness for which she is known, “I was born with Hitler and went to school with Stalin.”
During the mid-60s Zdenka began to create more abstract compositions in which figures distorted, and animals grew too many legs and defied the laws of nature. In 1967, Zdenka’s long-time dream came true. It arrived in the form of a putative rescuer by the name of Ole Henrik Moe, then director of Henie Onstad Art Center, who upon encountering her work was so impressed that he arranged for her to come to Norway on a three-month residency. She was granted Norwegian citizenship In 1974.
This was how she became Dean of the Art Academy of Oslo from 1989–1992, the first woman to hold such a position in all of Scandinavia.
Karin Mamma Andersson (b. 1962) from Sweden
Andersson’s works evoke a romanticized—perhaps haunted—past. She creates woodblock prints that depict among other motifs fields, cats, elaborate women’s gloves, and hares. She’s also made pictures of headless gentlemen.
Her investment in the woodblock as a medium recalls the printing practice of Munch: Her Nordic predecessor created woodblock prints that similarly exude alienation with a similar palette.
“My style follows a very Nordic painting tradition: landscapes, interiors, relationships, and dramas. I am very much inspired by theater and film,” she once said.
Hanna Liden (b. 1976) from Sweden living and working in New York
Liden’s darkly compelling photographs seem to evoke the ritualistic pagan ceremonies and witchcraft magic aestheticized by Scandinavian horror movies. Liden first arrived on the scene around 2005 with photographs of masked teenagers rambling through rural landscapes.
In 1998 she went to New York and made her way into the New York art scene in the mid-2000s. Hanna Linden is a photographer who has received great attention among collectors, museums and collections.
Finnish-born Irma Salo Jæger (b. 1928) lives and works in Norway
When Irma Salo Jæger visited a large exhibition in Helsinki as a young woman, she was inspired by painters like Kandinsky, Matisse and Klee.
Over a lifetime she has made her mark on the modernist painting and is a master with colors. She moved to Norway in 1954 and married the Norwegian scientist Tycho Jæger. By virtue of her strong political activism for the welfare of artists, and not least, through her own significant oeuvre she has been a prominent figure in the Norwegian art world since the 1960s.
Feature image (on top) Toril Wrånes, Completely Sold Out
Scandinavian Impressions by 9 Contemporary Female Artists, written by Tor Kjolberg