Bjørn Ransve in the Tower Room – Bergen Art Museum (Norway)

Bergen Art Museum – Bergen (Norway)

Bjørn Ransve in the Tower Room
Exhibition > 30. September 2008

Four monumental black and white paintings form a serene unity in Bergen’s Art Museum largest exhibition space.

Bergen Art Museum – Tower Room
Bjørn Ransve / Four monumental black and white paintings
Photograph by Dag Fosse
© All rights reserved

Restless leaps between divergent motifs and work methods cause many viewers to see Bjørn Ransve as a chameleonic artist. In the course of a career stretching across several decades, he has moved from figurative painting and fine art printing – both built on a classic foundation – to paintings with emblematic flatness and large-format non-figurative form studies. In this wealth of versatility there nevertheless lies a unifying artistic project. Ever since his years at art school, Ransve’s works have borne witness to a strong consciousness of form and tradition, and a large share of his projects concern diverse approaches to the main motif of classic painting: the figure in space.

Bjørn Ransve began his art studies in 1962, and even during these formative years Ransve was keenly interested in the traditions of painting and the challenge to make figurative painting meaningful after the avant-garde’s entry into the art scene. At that time, several painters with a figurative ‘orientation’ found a possible way forward by taking recourse in works by artists such as Francis Bacon and Alberto Giacometti. These artists express what is problematic about representing the human being through depersonalization and various forms of distortion: humans without faces, as fragments, as archetypes and as emblems.

As Bergen International Festival’s Artist in Residence in 1985, Ransve exhibited a series of Indian pictures. The sudden shift in theme bewildered the public. From having concen-trated on harlequins and apes in clearly delineated pictorial spaces, Ransve jumped to decorative flat compositions in large formats of black and pure colours. With the Indian pictures, he was soon described as a representative for Postmodern art, characterized by ruptures in style, playfulness and seemingly arbitrary themes. These works implied a breach in the classical tradition Ransve engaged with ever since his student days.

Bjørn Ransve,
Balancing Form, oil on canvas, 1996
Photograph by Dag Fosse
© All rights reserved

Bjørn Ransve,
Royal picture I and III, oil on canvas, 1992/1993
Photograph by Dag Fosse
© All rights reserved

The 1990s opened a new epoch in Bjørn Ransve’s artistic practice: pure non-figurative compositions. The broad classic-figurative references found in earlier pictures are gone. We can also, in one sense, detect an absence of the painter, for the handcraft that was so pronounced in earlier works now recedes into the background. Here tension between flatness and space is explored. The black pictorial room Ransve used in his Indian pictures is now cultivated and rendered meaningful in itself; interpreted as the absence of colour, it suggests the infinity of space, yet also the closed, hermetic space of autonomous art. The picture’s diagonals and the rectangle’s positives and negatives give the impression of strict geometry, but not necessarily harmony.

    Photographs by Dag Fosse
    Text & images © Bergen Art Museum – All rights reserved


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~ by Stampfli & Turci on August 18, 2008.

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