Now Featuring Malin Gabriella Nordin

Painter and sculptor Malin Gabriella Nordin speaks about her works like a rotating cast of characters in a play, or friends in a wide social circle she knows well. Her forms are deceptively simple, as they repeat and mutate from one work to the next, shifting in each new iteration as Nordin listens and responds to her own work in a relationship that is both formal and deeply subjective and personal.

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MH: Can you talk about the themes of line and mass in your work?  I’m enjoying the simple tension in some of your monochromatic work of mass and weight and then the lightness of some of your doodle-like lines.

MGN: I seek my own relationships between colors and shapes. The color depends on the shape and the shape depends on the color and together they depend on their surroundings. Slowly the shapes mould into their own characters where they all have their own qualities. It becomes an social interaction where they co-inhabit the space as individuals. They stand together, stand apart – creating a tension between them.

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MH: What’s your studio process?  Your work looks quite intuitive, but I know that looks can be deceiving!

MGN: My overall process is my own game of Telephone, where I move between different mediums and techniques. Something that started out as a collage on paper might become a sculpture and later a painting from another point of view, constantly changing in the search for the right medium and size for each piece. These changes in material, size and technique always involves a translation in process. During the process the qualities changes but also how I think about the piece. It becomes a new character with different qualities and abilities, or sometimes, it’s still the same character but with new features. Each shape becomes the actual experience – it is the sensation of it own realization.

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I try to not censor myself in my work, to take new paths and dare to make mistakes. The work always begins with a shape, a feeling, the impression of a dream, a sentence that stuck to me, a memory, an idea, but I never know how it will end up. During the working process the subject within the original frame changes, a conversation takes place between me and the work. I need to be observant, ready to rethink and have the ability to see the deviations from what I anticipated. Like in a game of dominoes the next step always depends on the one before. The process continues infinitely, as leftover pieces from one project becomes a major part of the next project.

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MH: The way you photograph your sculptural work is intriguing… I’m very aware of feeling that I’m looking at a “set” in some cases, at a three dimensional scenario that was composed and designed to be photographed. Is that what you’re going for or is it only part of it?

MGN: When I feel like I need a new look at my work I photograph it because then I can see it from another point of view. It’s really hard to look at my own work when I’m in it, but when I take a picture I can look at it differently. And while I take the photos I try to experiment with the settings, depending on what the characters want to tell me and also I explore how the tension can be modified by moving them around.

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MH: What’s your relationship with landscape?  There are so many moments in your work that feel like vistas, and many more that are deliberately, clearly flat, two-dimensional and linear.

MGN: It’s about keeping the gaze within the frame of the work. To keep getting drawn in – to let the eyes wander around and always keep coming back.. To constantly find new ways of looking at it and see different structures emerge. So I guess you could say it’s an landscape within. I want to create a social interaction between the different forms. The interaction can be inside the specific work (e.g. within a composition in a collage or painting) but also outside of it – by placing the work in specific ways in a room to build up a tension between them but also inviting the viewer to take part of this social interaction – like in a landscape.

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MH: Are you a collector of anything?  I’m interested because many of your pieces seem to reference a type of collecting, gathering or indexing, as similar forms or objects are place together.

MGN: I’ve collected many things, a lot of different stuff. I easily become obsessed with something for a time and then it becomes my full focus- nothing else matters, and then next month it’s something else. Right now I’m trying to not collect as much, but I guess I always collect shapes. in different ways.

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MH: What projects are you working on right now and what goals do you have for the future? I like what you said about allowing yourself to make mistakes… Is there anything that seems like a challenge (a potential mistake) that you’ve been waiting to try?

MGN: I’m working on a book that will be about my project Private Language, where I invited children to discuss my sculptures. And in my studio right now I’m working with a lot of different things at the same time… mostly sculptures and paintings. I’m actually starting to paint on canvas and that’s new for me, I usually paint on wood or paper. I’m a little bit scared but also excited.

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MH: What’s the art scene like where you’re based in Norway?

MGN: Even though Bergen is a really small city there are many things happening here, there are a lot of exhibitions and concerts, festivals and small galleries opening up. But usually everything happens on the same day and then the next couple of days nothing happens.

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MH: What artists and makers inspire you?  Who are the ones you’ve loved a long time, and who are your new discoveries?

MGN: I love so many. When I was a kid my favorite artist was Henri Rousseau, I loved his Jungle Book (still do). I admire Louise Bourgeois and Cy Twombly… Ron Nagle and Miyoko Ito are two of my recent discoveries, which I love.

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