On Lina Bjerneld

What makes Lina Bjerneld’s paintings peculiar is that they neither are works nor part of an installation. Yet they are objects and artworks. To show things that are not works is of course nothing unusual, but this ordinarily takes place within the framework of an installation, i.e. within a spatial organisation that is art in itself and thereby turns everything embraced by it into art. But Bjerneld does not create that kind of space. Instead, her work and exhibition design tends to flatten the room and make it more image-like. For instance by placing all the paintings in a room so that they are facing in the same direction, but spread out in space so that if you see the show from a specific angle, the space acts as a singular image composed by a number of overlapping images.

There is a particular piece that might provide a correct elucidation of how she relates to the art object and to the space of the artwork. It is a transparent, not particularly deep box that she had made for her – like a stand, a vertical vitrine. Inside it, there are several layers of paintings, turning outwards so that there are paintings facing in all directions. Most of them are partly concealed by others. You can´t really speak of a room in there; the paintings form layers and create a heterogeneous surface where the all the different layers of images clash against each other. If the box had been lying down, one could have thought of archaeology, but since it is upright all the layers sooner make you think about a computer screen with several documents and tabs open at the same time. This object is like a picture of her paintings’ actual environment.

So Bjerneld avoids both the work and the installation, which have been the very basis for art. But she holds on to painting as a specific medium. Painting “in the reduced field” (paint, brush, canvas), she makes paintings. But the paintings do not for instance always have the self-sufficiency of an artwork. I don’t know if this is an extreme case within her production, but I have seen the same painting standing upended in one context and resting on its long side in another. And in a third situation she was thinking about cutting up the painting in order to use the pieces as a kind of train or cloak for other paintings. This does not make them props. Instead, it is probably about her taking on painting from another form of sensibility than those who have done so previously. Painting changes according to the development of technology, but this change is in turn relative to an altered sensibility. Painting was transformed by photography, and bringing to forth questions of original and copy, and took on a form of sensibility that in everything seemed to seek out and appreciate the reproducible. Bjerneld is no there anymore. She might repeat an exhibition but with partly altered works. Visually, it would not be the same exhibition, but whether one painting is “the same” as another is not defined by the visual. Even “original” and “copy” do not have the same meaning. Possibly, there is a digital sensibility at stake amid the multiple windows that are open at the same time. Neither the unique nor the reproducible is of interest, perhaps it is in fact about the transformability of the painting, its mobility, the strength of a detail and its efficiency even when partly concealed, or the potential of an image to function as a layer on top of another one, overlapping, etc. The basic categories have changed, this much is clear.

Instead of standing in a room, the paintings stand in temporary affiliations. The same thing might actually be said about the image components: sometimes independent of each other on the same canvas, sometimes belonging together but on different canvases. The same canvas or not, perhaps it does not matter for painting. The unity of painting is uncertain; perhaps it only exists in uncertainty. As a viewer, I think that one almost instinctively reacts with a certain sense of concern towards the absence of the artwork and to this uncertain unity. The absence of clear borders and units provide movement and a sense of volatility to the paintings, they make you flicker slightly. This is a feeling that spreads throughout many levels in and of the paintings, and this also how many of her characters appear to be, wandering around, about to leave the image. Leaving only a colour field in the image, for a while. That transience insists: it is a feeling emanating from a relationship that exists even when it is not tangible. Like in the omnipresent relationship to mortality and to humour. The unity of her paintings lies in such a condition of the soul, rather than in the room. A watch is ticking behind the wild percussionist on one of her paintings. In another someone is lying down paralysed by anxiety and above her another figure dances, full of life, in a pair of funny red trousers: “Everything is done with death anxiety, but if I was to do anything at all I wanted at least to do something fun.” Consequently one should perceive the paintings twice: in anguish and as fun. Through such a reception one becomes distrait, at once in and outside the paintings. Since a while back, that is probably how we live, in layers – but now painting exists there too! That makes it all the better.



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