17 February 2012

Silje Heggren: Land of Confusion

Land of Confusion
Silje Heggren
Kunstgalleriet, Stavanger
Paintings/collages from New York City

How can you visualize the essense of New York City? More than just one view or logo, Silje Heggren shows the mix and abundance of impressions as the essence of the Big Apple.

Silje Heggren: The Subterraneans
The Subterraneans

She spent an amount of time in the city, and decided to give in totally to the impressions. She set out to visit 100 exhibitions in one instant. Setting out on a quest like this must be like a catharsis, after that it is surprising she had the strenght to go on painting herself. Apparently she avoided catching the Stendthal Syndrome (also called the Florence syndrome, when tourists collapse after too many impressions in Florence), and turned to large painted collages of what she experienced.

Silje Heggren: Atlantic

The base for her paintings seems like random spots in the suburbs, in the subway or somewhere unspecific. The information overload and absurdity is added by inserting out-of-place and out-of-scale objects and ad figures. This changes the scene from a boring everyday setting to a burlesque circus. I know that scenes sufficiantly absurd are abundant in NYC, but Heggren has found the need to absurdize further. Somehow I do not understand the purpuse, as reality can be so absurd itself, but I also understand her need to push on layer upon layer of visual information.

Silje Heggren: Corner Shop
Corner Shop

The visual languange of street art is strongly present in her paintings, both in method and motive. She uses the technique of stencils to extract the crucial lines of the motive. But she also have direct references to murals by painting graffiti and street art, for instance a squirrel motive by Belgian artist ROA.

Silje Heggren: Untitled

The touristic elements are almost visible by not being present. No Empire State Buildings here. As a visitor in a foreign country, the obvious motives are important enough, but often everyday motives leave equally strong impressions. Like an ATM sign, a hamburger ad figure, gas station signs.

Silje Heggren: Land of Confusion
Land of Confusion