Invisibilities in the Near Landscape
Amalie Marie Selvik
her pencil drawings, IngwillGjelsvik takes us close to Nature.
To intimately regard drawn studies of apparently beautiful and
noncommittal nature experiences. Several of Gjelsvik's drawings
concern what remains unseen in our physical surroundings, all
that which we walk past or step on. Everything that is there -
but is absent in our consciousness.
as well as technically, Gjelsvik works within the limits of the
mediumof drawing. Using pencil and paper, she creates large, highly
detailed, photo realistic images in shades of grey. She insists
on the time-consuming handicraft that is the process of drawing.
In precise detail, she masters the realistic representation through
textures, light, and shadow in varying grey tones.
has left the complex, collage inspired motives and ornamental
patterns of lace en towards covering the paper with one coherent
motive. The realistic studies of Nature remind us of the Norwegian
landscape painting, a type of motive with a long tradition in
Norwegian art history. But it is not the grand views of sea, mountain
and wide open spaces, nor the overwhelming forces of nature that
concern her. Instead, IngwillGjelsvik fixes her view on the nearest,
daily interaction with animal and natural surroundings, and reports
soberly and to the point the everyday motives she finds in her
physical surroundings; among vegetation in the forest and along
the road, among leaves and trees, with a perspective that lets
her lead our gaze down towards the undergrowth, and to views of
compact compositions dominated by gravel, soil, weeds and withered
Gjelsvik toys with our perception of what at first look appears
to be self-explanatory motives. At first, the drawings are read
as beautiful studies of nature or still lives, until we notice
something terrible is about to happened - or has already occurred.
"Animal Architecture" (2010) depicts a beaver's nest
of dirt and branches, idyllically placed at the edge of a small
lake in the forest. But among the beaver's construction of branches,
grass and dead leaves, unlighted matches lie strewn. The introduction
of a human presence undermines the harmony of Nature and reveals
a potential critique of the human centric worldview. Ominously,
the motive suggests how fragile our notions and expectations of
our idealized relationship of Nature really are. Gjelsvik worries
about the dualistic relationship humans have with Nature. We appreciate
it, but are also careless and disrespectful, even directly terrorizing
in our everyday attitude towards Nature.
discrimination of others based on their species, race, or sex
is a recurrent and fundamental theme in IngwillGjelsvik's work.
Earlier, she has worked with animal rights based on a moral position
towards the abusive treatment of animals. In her new project however,
her own life with her dog, and her experience of losing her beloved
pet that she has shared her life with for ten years,form a strong
presence. Gjelsviks own relationship to the surroundings near
her home, and her daily walks with her dog Zuki constitute some
of the many sources of inspiration for her art. Wlaks where the
needs of the dog, its curiosity, play, and markings dominate and
guide time and space, as well as the eye's registering of every
little detail in the ditch and along paths and roads.
little drawing "Burial mound 1:1" (2009) is a close-up
of a small, bare piece of dirt made of sand, clumps, small branches,
weeds and ferns. The title of burial mound makes a modest reference
to the many buried small animals and pets around us. The quiet
existence of such places that bear witness to our need for ritual
and the emotional strain of a dear animal departing.It is this
formal nature and esthetic of this drawing, of the idea of the
pure study of nature, that lets the motive avoid the spectactular.
Instead, Gjelsvik insists on steering the attention towards a
modest and common spot on the ground - for most of us invisibilities
of landscape that we don't afford a second look. Insignificant
traces in nature, along the path, or in our own garden, form reflections
over our cultural and esthetic interventions in Nature's landscape.
Gjelsvik's pencil makes its mark on the drawing paper in the same
way that dirt and gravel marks the landscape. Visually, she pushes
the figurative motive almost to abstraction.
the two drawings "EVERYDAY (HVERDAG)" (2011), the motive
appears at first to be a representation of a gravel path lined
with tall grass. But up close, among dead leaves, small rocks
and weeds, some of the natural elements have been replaced with
myriads of faces, and a small, white banner. Integrated in the
gravel appear demonstrating women and men, reminding us of last
year's shock waves of demonstrations around the world. Growing
poverty, unemployment, breaches of human rights and political
oppression have created an extreme need for rebellion and protest
in many nations. People every day taking control through collective
expression, demanding changes in social and political conditions.
oneself in each of these pictures, it becomes clear that IngwillGjelsvik
touches upon current questions of humanism and the human condition
in our time. In motives existing in the borderlands between reality
and illusion, weakness and strength, solidarity and conflict,
Gjelsvik expresses a sincere concern or the world as it is today.
values the art of drawing for its basic practice of translating,
documenting, registering and analysing our world. In these drawings,
the landscape delivers the basic context for the fragmented elements
suggesting narratives, actions, or developments. Through the interaction
of controlled and unspoiled nature, a notion of a world appears
containing more chaos than we would prefer and more uncertainty
than we can stand. Gjelsvik's drawings may raise more questions
than answers. Is the reality we move in every day as rationally
organized as we like to think? Are we able to remain open to the
many paths we may choose, or are we blindly following the one
path we once decided on?