Mamma Andersson

Impressions. Five Centuries of Woodcuts

6.11 2015–24.1 2016, The National Gallery, Oslo, Norway

From Press Release:
This exhibition will showcase the woodcut and its many functions and stylistic possibilities.

With varying degrees of popularity, the age-old woodcut technique has been in use since the sixteenth century, and there seems recently to be a renewed interest in this art form. Is there a connection between today’s digitized visual media and the woodcuts of yore?

A good answer here is mass communication. Five centuries ago, words and images were disseminated to the common people through woodcuts. Although this is perhaps far removed from today’s digital modes of reproduction, the democratic idea of widely reproducing and distributing images has remained at the core.

Wood structure, lines, and colour
The exhibition, which is primarily based on the museum’s own holdings, focuses on the functions and stylistic possibilities allowed by the woodcut. The thematic division indicates above all how both material and technique have influenced the artists’ visual styles.

We see how artists such as Edvard Munch and Paul Gauguin used the wood block’s structure and growth ring pattern as an aesthetical element in their woodcuts. We also show the tremendous variation in the use of lines and surfaces, from Albrecht Dürer’s thin, meticulous linework to Emil Nolde’s rougher and more angular forms.

Another theme in the exhibition is the technique’s inherent possibilities when it comes to the use of colour, as can be seen in the sophisticated nineteenth-century Japanese woodcuts and later on in works by Nikolai Astrup and Hanne Borchgrevink.

Woodcut as a process
The German artist Thomas Kilpper works with large-scale woodcuts from a socially critical perspective. The exhibition will dedicate an entire room to his work, where he will use the floor to create woodcuts and thereafter mount the prints as a three-dimensional installation in the room.

The exhibition will also feature a group of students from the Oslo National Academy of the Arts working on a woodcut project as an ongoing, collective process. During certain periods they will be present in one of the rooms to show visitors how they work with the medium.

More information: www.nasjonalmuseet.no

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