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On Lise Blomberg

By Majse Aymo Boot

1. Visiting the black lakes

Something dry. Half a face, cut, with a large square mouth. The brain and the eyes are gone. The mouth doesn’t seem to be working either. They are the remains of a face, ruined, butting itself in, and hugely big. Enormous and completely distorted. A thoughtless head muscling in with the forest.

The forest in which it is hanging is a pixellated, dry, drawn back, cool, almost dissolved forest. A sense of order has organized it in quadrangles. It is hardly a forest. But still a forest.

The title of the picture is Visiting the black lakes. What is a lake? A great wet hole?

But never has a wet hole been so dry and plank-like as this almost abstract surface. And in the midst of it towers this large, light, and optimistic lower part of the face. Which holds itself floating. Which does not intend to become tired and rest since it has completely stopped reflecting, stopped having intentions and memory. Beyond the personal aspect it is a piece of anatomy making its entry and possibly combining itself with its surroundings – or just being massively in them. An “un-dead” head? The absence of thought, and pure being : An ecstatic, stupid, total now, a mind-less presence that insists.

This is how one might perceive it.

2. The Geometric Forest

The pictures of Lise Blomberg almost all of them take place in a forest. As were the forest the right frame of investigation for something. Or, as were the forest the prerequisite for something. It is not a lyric and inviting forest, nor is it a crooked, gothically menacing one. The forest of Lise Blomberg is a dry, held back, delicate, measured and moderate forest. A forest of straight lines and monochrome surfaces, almost schematic. Pedagogical trees. Stylized trees. Away from the detailed ramifications of trees towards a geometric simplification. Not a forest of small things, but extremely precise. The pine is so pine-green as only a pine can be. The colours are douce and cool.

The forest: Background or main character? Sceneries arise from it. Gigantic passerines. Sparrows with human heads. A delighted Hillary Clinton bird. Half faces floating around. A woman nursing a child in the midst of a thicket. Houses. People sleeping or resting, or indoor situations which have been transported out into nature. It sounds like a collage, and in terms of painting technique it is; different scales, domains and degrees of detail in an indefinite, strange mixture. One might say: They are pictures whose motifs and techniques realize the inherent strangeness of the object.

3. Something, something impending

From where does this indefinite sense of something impending come? This sense of suspense?

Something is waiting. Perhaps the beginning of a narration, but the unfolding of the narration seems postponed. It is rather the suspense itself that we see, disconnected from its redemption or from its continuation.

4. The Insisting Place in Question

We are unavoidably closing in on the motif. We arrive and see:

We see for instance Sleeping Woman. She appears like an ornament in a dark, embroidery picture, white and sleeping. Like a pale moon in a forest lake. Both exposed and protected.

We might see House in the Woods, for example. Two mega sparrows, one probably dead, the other watching, waiting or flabbergasted. They are close to a house, but without having a clear connection to it.

Then we see The House in the woods 3: It shows exactly the same tableau: But now it is winter. Time has passed, the birds are still here, immovable. What happened will not just pass; it is the total now of the place in question. Nothing will disintegrate, the situation laid bare will remain in its freshness. The motif insists.

The motif in Lise Blomberg is generally very insisting. The pictures circle almost monomaniacally around a row of related motifs. They butt themselves in. Look, keep looking, the pictures are saying. We haven’t finished here. Again and again we are being led back to it and must glimpse, see, stare, spy on, watch.

I am referring to “us”. Because through the fact that the scenes are often presented from a low-lying, ornithological perspective – from a “peeping level” – the viewer has been painted into the picture, so to speak. Branches are bowed so as to give us a better look on things. Voyeur is the title of a picture. And it is the voyeuristic aspect that is present in Lise Blomberg, but the question is who is watching whom? Whose eyes is the painting lending us as we watch a house in a clearing? Are we watching through the eyes of something non-human? We are in a peeping position. But the house peeps back at us.

Something is exposed to a gaze, and it is alternately me (exposed to my own voyeuristic gaze on the tableau to which the painting is, in a manner of speaking, forcing me, the viewer); he tableau at which I am gazing; and me again (since the tableau gazes back, directly and indirectly). The birds are staring, checking me out, having a what-do-you-want-stare.

5. The Political Dickybirds

The Politician birds in the plantation. Their nests are constantly filled with young birds. They chirp and flirt and meet over parental care. The dryness is blooming. Is Brundtland hissing a meanness to Stoltenberg? Or is she – being a bird – singing?

Beside the nest the birds Oluf Palme and Anna Lindh are sitting. Palme is as pleased as punch. The summit meeting was a success. They have been lucky with the new members of the family. He is ready to be a proud provider. Never has a mother face been so motherly. Are they happy with their speeches? Yes, very. The murdered Swedish politicians. They are little dead sparrows, but death is a very vigorous and chirping place.

In Greek mythology a bird with a human head is a harpy: A flying, female creature abducting people. The politician birds of Lise Blomberg do not look like rapacious kidnappers. They are small and nimble and part of Blomberg's cheeky fable where different spheres merge: Power, laying of eggs, foraging, politics, disputes, chirping, marital problems, dream, society, media, death, mythology, and perpetual, loud chirping from ravenous young birds. There is something ironic about it, but nothing parodic or idyllic, nothing definitely to be settled.

Rather, we are in a sort of in-between position. Is a human advance to the bird going to take place, and vice versa? An additional being? A possibility that has not yet realized itself, but which is being invented? A Limbo? An alliance? Is this an area of transformation in which something is changing, but without worrying about how to fulfill the change? Or is it simply a painting? What may we expect from theses sparrows, a worm in the mouth or an abduction?

6. “Now I am sleeping”, I am thinking

Again we see the house in the forest. It is an ever returning motif. Houses with lighted or dark windows, or closed, as in the picture Behind Summer lies Winter. Here is a span between what is outdoors and what is indoors; but nothing takes place indoors. At the most indoors is a place to be viewed from the outside, as if we were animals, or perhaps with a longing, as a dream to get out of the cold.

The white forest floor and the cool colours makes outdoors into a winter-like, cold place. With a refreshing coldness in which, perhaps, one might sleep?

Because there are many sleeping or resting people in Lise Blombergs work. We watch sleep, or the idea of sleep. Sleep is a condition that can't be? experienced by our cogito: For either we see other people sleeping while awake ourselves, or we sleep ourselves and do not acknowledge it. The acknowledgement of sleep is, so to speak, displaced to before and after. And even though we stare and peek at these distinct people and houses, they keep their inaccessibility and their displacement. We open our eyes, wide, and look at the inaccessible, and we can see it quite distinctly. Is this what it is like?

The pictures of Lise Blomberg generally do not hide anything, on the contrary; they show and lay bare a line of tableaus which are very clear and distinct, and precisely painted. And in all their exposure they are still elusive.

7. The Nest

Two warm bodies in a thicket. The flurried race of the sparrow hearts. The heart beats are one long roll of drums. They are in the middle of a neat falsetto rage. Tearing clouds with a hysteric chirp at the top of their voices]. Silver needles. They are wearing great tit ties. They are up to something. Nothing definite. But definitely something. Their song is the best song. Minimal. Sharp. A drawing pin of ice. They never correct anything. Are anti-flaubertian. They don’t make mistakes. Fingers, hands and arms seem like superfluous gadgets. Something is in the air but they can’t remember what. They each weigh 100 kilograms. Their chirps are a roar. They are quite possibly perplexed. Powerful. Or great protectors. Right here a sleeping mother with a baby is lying, and what on earth is she doing here? Did she think that it might be a nice place to rest a bit? Soon death shall arrive and sweep with his small broom. Or some other instrument. Historically death uses instruments. I imagine that in this case it might sweep them up with a tissue without much ado.







Julie Damgaard  interviewing Lise Blomberg

With the help of crosscut between dream and reality L.B. evokes an emblematic romantic nature scenery, by which the apparent lightness covers different psychologically complicated situations.

For a long time you have been working with collage technique. How come?

I think about the idea, that you should be able to see the construction of the piece. In the work with the collage technique a crosscut, as known from the film media, is taking place. As a spectator you might consider if the kiss you see on the canvas has taken place, is taking place in this moment or belongs to the future. Maybe it is just a daydream. I’m interested in this ambiguity of the story. 

Do you pick up a lot of inspiration from the film media?

Yes, sometimes. But it’s important to keep in mind that painting has a character of it’s own. With the figurative, narrative painting a clear paradox arises, because a painting does not contain a progression, instead you can speak of a still-stand.

I’ve been very pleased to see Hitchcock’s “the birds”. While on the one hand the birds give my paintings a lightness and humour, on the other hand they also appear as angst creating creatures. They are a threatening element. The hybrid, the bird-human, especially the Greek mythological bird-woman, is often read as death helper. 

The bird might also get a threatening character due to its atypical proportions?

That’s true. In some of the paintings the bird, due to its size, gives course to a certain angst feeling. The disproportions supply the motifs with a kind of fragility, as you both recognize and feel a stranger to the identification in the picture.

However, the dimensions must also be seen in relation to the collage technique, with its mixture of different type of pictures. And it must be seen in relation to the directions in the paintings, the work with fore- and background, and with the position of the spectator. With the help of diagonals and the working in of a low laying position of the spectator in the foreground of the painting, the element of suspense and voyeurism, becomes a part of several – though not all – expressions of the works. To a great extent I have been inspired by the artist L.C.Armstrong, whose work with cross-going movement in the picture surface ties together the motif.  It is a sort of mental construction in which an event in the background is answered by an incident in the foreground. 

In Linda Christine Armstrongs works giant flower vines twist themselves cross the picture surface and hampers the view to a scenery lying behind, whose nature romanticism, on closer inspection, turns out to be subdued to surprises which deny all logics. We are talking about a kind of dysfunctional, post apocalyptic landscapes, which are both impressive and disturbing at the same time. Also in Lise Blombergs work nature romanticism is practised – added to it an at times morbid element of excitement.

I’m interested in an elementary beauty. The beautiful and touching about flowers landscapes and kisses. In a painting like “Obstacle on the way home” you immediately perceive the sensual love, but then you might notice the ambivalent significations in the title. The painting then suddenly becomes a story of not being able to create a happy home, or maybe even a story about infidelity. 

I’m a nature romanticist, but at the same time I seek the excitement you can find by moving in the borderland between story and reality, between the surreal and the real. You don’t know with certainty what’s an inner and what’s an outer event. I often use figures with closed eyes in my paintings – figures that are to be found in a kind of a landscape of their own. In those paintings what is presented is the human projection and imaginations of landscape.     

My motifs have been interpreted as taking place in a post-mortem universe. At first I was shocked to hear this, but I can see, that a kind of coupling between different worlds is taking place. The paintings are situated in the borderline between being and not being.  

The unknown factor is often perceived as fascinating. Sleep and the unconscious may, like death, be perceived as unknown land, as something beyond. It is insinuated in my works that the birds appearing are helpers who can bring you to “another land”.

A helper to make you reach deeper into yourself, so to speak?

Yes. In the interpretation of dreams you say that if you meet an animal in your dreams, you should make it your friend. 

Some paintings are relatively empty, whereas others are more filled. What does this mean?

It is a formal technique, but may also be read in terms of content. At a certain time I was very inspired by Japanese aesthetic – its special lightness and the fact that formally you have the sense of the white canvas or paper. The emptiness may, however, also be an element in the story of sleep and this way has a psychological meaning in the reading of the work.

What is your relationship with surrealism?

I want to distance myself from it, and I do feel that there is a difference. My works are in a greater dialogue with semiotics then with the interpretation of dreams. At the same time I am using some of the same techniques as the surrealists used; for instance by referring directly to the form of collage. I collect pictures that inspire me, and in the collecting phase I find a quick reaction important: If the picture captures me I take it – and only afterwards I reflect upon the choice. Moving beyond ones own mechanisms of control and entering the work more directly is a surreal technique. 

In my smaller works I like to let studies of nature and watercolour paintings work as sources, and the finished collage with its emblematic character has thus been stimulated by a more direct observation of nature. It may be compared with the classic flower painting with a mixture of naturalism and symbolism.

Something happens when you put pictures together, whether it happens on paper or on a wall. The mixture of different types of picture produces different and exciting spaces. Small, condensed pictures and large empty pictures engage in a special type of  “conversation” which may be both about relationship and loneliness. It may be compared with the different ways in which consciousness works: Although the dream does not necessarily materialize in the real world, a kind of dialogue nevertheless arises. 

Have you experienced a leitmotif in the pictures that have inspired you?

There have been many pictures of nature, and pictures I have been able to identify with at different points in my life. The experiences of the pictures have always been those of recognition. In this way I have clarified things for myself and found identification in the work.

I think that therapy in art is a good thing. The problems of the individual often turn out to be of a universally valid nature. I think you might characterise art as collective therapy. Of course some artists work quite formally, and thus their works get a different character. But the idea that art does not have a mission is not correct according to my opinion.

How would you like people to leave your paintings?

With a certain opening of their mind.

 


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