With lashings of decorative dirt, sex and death, Vanessa Baird has emerged as an uncompromising voice in Norwegian contemporary art.
For many years she has worked in close collaboration with Mette Hellenes, who is today particularly well known for her equally uncompromising comic strip Kebbelife.
Vanessa Baird (b. 1963) studied at the National College of Art and Design, the Royal College of Art, London, and the Oslo National Academy of the Arts. She is a former recipient of the Lorck Schive Art Prize. In 2018 she was awarded the Telenor Culture Prize and attracted attention internationally at The Armory Show in New York. In 2013 her work To Everything There Is a Season became the focus of a major controversy. Commissioned for the Government Quarter in Oslo, the work was rejected due to the fear of negative reactions among government employees.
The exhibition at KODE presents her expansive and critically acclaimed work You Are Something Else, a continuous visual narrative covering 40 five-metre-high paper panels drawn in pastels. Through her distinctive fabulating idiom, Baird weaves together escapes across the sea, visual popular culture and everyday life, engulfing the public in a dramatic, grotesque and poetic tale of our times.
Mette Hellenes (b. 1964) trained at the Oslo National Academy of the Arts and has exhibited at institutions such as Kunstnernes Hus and Tegneforbundet. Her work has been purchased by the National Museum and Arts Council Norway. Over the years, Baird and Hellenes have collaborated on many occasions. Hellenes is particularly well known for Kebbelife, a comic strip whose central characters are inspired by the friendship between Hellenes and Baird. Her books about the “Kebbe friends” have won several awards.
Baird and Hellenes jointly run the publishing imprint Brunt hull. In 2017, they won gold in Grafill’s selection of the most beautiful fictional picture books of the year for their respective books Kyklopsommer (Cyclops Summer) and Red Herring. Prednisolon, ciclosporin. This exhibition presents works from both books, along with You Are Something Else, and a broad selection of self-portraits, photographs and satirical drawings by Baird and Hellenes.