“Nordic Mixed Media” is the name of the latest exhibition at New York’s Trygve Lie Gallery, and it features the works of three distinctly different Scandinavian artists, from Matthias van Arkel’s rubber silicone abstractions to the fine, sensitive palette of Torild Stray and the monumental photographs of Daniel Sandberg.
At the opening, curator Elfi von Kantzow Alvin said, “I was inspired by the various methods of these artists. The enormous diversity.”
This marked von Kantzow Alvin’s 72nd exhibition. Through the years, she has exhibited close to 300 Scandinavian artists—all handpicked.
What’s that colored spaghetti on the wall? Or is it candy? Colored strings that coil this way and that, making for a playful and different kind of art. A minimalist sculpture of sorts.
“Go ahead and touch it,” says Swedish artist Matthias van Arkel. And it’s hard not to, because van Arkel’s works beg to be touched. “It won’t break and if it gets dirty we can always throw it in the bath tub and wash it off.”
Van Arkel had worked for years with plastelina and clay when a rubber manufacturer approached him, saying, “Why don’t you try working with silicone rubber instead?” That was in 2004, and van Arkel played around with the novel material for awhile before coming up with the idea of using pasta machines.
“It’s exciting,” he says. “I add the colors and run the rubber through a machine that makes flat, lasagna noodles, which I then run through the spaghetti machine, making these strings.”
The high-gloss colored strings are then put on trays and baked for 20 hours. When they come out they have not changed in shape or color and they are practically indestructible. Van Arkel looks like the cat that swallowed a canary.
“Nice, isn’t it?”
We don’t always see patterns and designs unless we take a step back, or, in Swedish photographer Daniel Sandberg’s, up. Only with distance does a message evolve.
“I’m interested in views never before seen,” Sandberg says. “And I had the thought that a landscape changes when you see it from above.”
He explains he wanted to borrow a crane in order to photograph a beach from above.
“But that meant getting a permit, which I didn’t have ... so then I thought perhaps a helicopter will do.”
Ever since, Sandberg has been taking helicopter trips in order to photograph from a bird’s perspective. His photos show views of trees, forests, deserts, irrigation and wind farms—to just mention a few. And they uncover otherwise hidden arrangements and forms.
“How do you find these views? How do you know where to look for them?”
We stand in front of Sandberg’s enormous photographs that feature a beech in the Hamptons and a wind farm in California.
“A lot of it is speculation only, of course,” he explains. “I google a lot. But I make mistakes, too. I went to Namibia to take photos of trees; I was there for three weeks, but none of the photos were any good.”
Norwegian-born Torild Stray has been based in New York City since the 1990's, and her paintings have been exhibited in the U.S. and Europe for over a decade.
“Through years of drawing and painting from the human figure I have developed a platform to explore my vision into paint, color and light,” she says. “I’m constantly striving to uncover new meanings and other dimensions.”
There is an element of the otherworldly in Stray's paintings, the colors are pleasant and the lines are soft.
“A painting to me is an active dialogue,” she continues. “A painting can have healing qualities, it can talk to us if we allow it. It can be soothing as well as frightening.”
Come see—and talk to—the works of Mixed Nordic Media at Trygve Lie Gallery, which runs through March 7.
For more info, see www.trygveliegallery.com