My Life! My Choice?
The exhibition presents drawings that address our living conditions and freedom to choose. It is part of the the Drawing Triennial organised by Tegnerforbundet (the Norwegian Drawing Center).
The exhibition shows a selection of Erik Werenskiold’s illustrations for Jonas Lie’s novel Familien på Gilje (The Family at Gilje), together with new works by two Norwegian contemporary artists: Hanne Lydia Opøien Figenschou and Gelawesh Waledkhani.
The theme of Lie’s book is the freedom, or lack of it, that young people have to determine their own futures. Although written nearly 150 years ago, the novel addresses issues that are still relevant today. In text and drawings, the exhibition explores interpretations of this theme across time and cultures, illuminating the idea that what is true of others can also be true of oneself.
Published in 1883, the first edition of Familien på Gilje was without illustrations. As a friend of the author, Werenskiold received a copy of the book as a gift, and the story inspired him to draw directly in its margins. Now part of the museum’s collection, Werenskiold’s copy of the first edition is on display in the exhibition. Of high artistic quality, Werenskiold’s illustrations constitute a major contribution to Norwegian book illustration. In its collection, the museum holds some 350 drawings relating to the series, including a number of preparatory sketches.
Hanne Lydia Opøien Figenschou
Using media such as drawing, text and video, Hanne Lydia Opøien Figenschou (b. 1964) explores themes relating to gender and identity, violence in close relationships, the self-portrait, abortion, and the relationship between the public and private spheres.
The exhibition “My Life! My Choice?” presents Figenschou’s Falling Heroes. This work features a variety of images collected from historical art, current news stories, social media, spam emails and urban advertising. Interested in the ways we exist at the mercy of the society we live in, Figenschou has created a work that confronts sources of influence and leadership figures.
Gelawesh Waledkhani’s art has a humanist orientation. She uses embroidery, drawing, installations, films and workshops to promote political and feminist causes and human rights. As a Norwegian-Kurdish artist, she knows from personal experience how vulnerable groups sometimes struggle for freedom and equality.
Waledkhani’s contribution to the exhibition portrays the freedom fighters and activists fighting for the independence and rights of the Kurdish people. She depicts a world where freedom of expression, human rights and peace cannot be taken for granted. Her practice of embroidering with her own hair adds a physical and bodily dimension to the political theme.
The new works by Hanne Lydia Opøien Figenschou and Gelawesh Waledkhani have been commissioned by the National Museum especially for this exhibition. The artists engage in dialogue with Lie’s novel and Werenskiold’s drawings, using material that draws on their personal lives and the times in which we live.
The exhibition is part of the Drawing Triennial 2023, “All that Lies Between”. Organised by Tegnerforbundet – The Norwegian Drawing Center, this edition of the triennial takes the relationship between text and image as its dominant theme.