Therese Christensen (1946–2017) was one of Norway’s significant artists and a distinctive figure in Bergen’s art world. The exhibition “Afternoon Signals” in the Tower Room presents a selection of works from the end of the 1990s to some of the last works she produced.
Inspired by her studies in Los Angeles, Christensen worked with painting and drawing in an abstract idiom, where references to American abstract expressionism and colour field painting are clearly present.
Towards the end of the 1990s Christensen gradually moved away from a darker palette and a compositional painting style, towards a more transparent and weightless mode of expression. When standing in front of the works, which have an almost corporeal format, the viewer becomes engulfed in the movement that takes place on the canvas.
Therese Christensen was educated at UCLA in Los Angeles, The National College of Art and Design (today part of the Oslo National Academy of the Arts) and West Norway’s National Academy of Art in Bergen. She made her debut at the Annual Autumn Exhibition already as a student, and was represented in a long line of solo and group exhibition throughout her career.
With her focus on abstract and expressionist forms of expression Christensen distinguished herself early on in the local art milieu. “My point of departure is always colour”, Christensen said about her works. She was preoccupied with the movement of colours between surface and form, and how colours were capable of evoking atmosphere as well as physical sensations in the viewer.
For Christensen the physical and visual aspects of the picture plane were essential. The canvas was submitted to improvised acts. When painting, she eventually abandoned the brush in favour of using her hands and fingers directly on the canvas in order to achieve a more direct and intuitive contact with the surface. Materials such as pigments, glue and water were applied to unprimed canvases.
This method of working, where the colours are diluted and soak into the support, produces a watercolour effect. The colours achieve subdued, aesthetically beautiful resonances that interact with each other, creating little conversations between them. In some of the last paintings and drawings we can discern traces of writing, applied with the left hand, often while blindfolded. In this way Christensen liberated herself from habitual actions, relying rather on circumstantial and indeterminate effects.
The exhibition “Therese Christensen – Afternoon Signals” exhibits works from KODE’s own collection and private loans. The exhibition will be on view in the Tower Room in KODE 4 until 21 October 2018.