mixed media artist
“There is much freedom in her brushstrokes, allowing the paint to roam, as if it has a mind of its own.”
Inger Dillan Antonsen, Reaching Out. Courtesy of the artist.
By Jill Smith
Antonsen works with mixed media, making work in the vein of Arshille Gorky. In the 1940s, Gorky’s seminal work laid a foundation for abstraction, where intuition was highly regarded and color was applied in thin washes to create gleaming transparencies. A contemporary predecessor, her images are mystical and the composition and colors create a non-objective work that allows the viewers to determine their own interpretations. Antonsen employs a significant tonal range to create an image that is highly imaginative and dream-like. Works like In The Blue captures Antonsen’s unique ability to create mesmerizing patterns that seem to be submerged in rich colors. Set against a deep, blue background, soft geometric shapes of yellow, red, green and purple weave in and out of each other like a tapestry. The blue background frames these shapes, which seem to fade around the edges, yet are illuminated from within. The effect is one where the overall image glows with a refulgent light. Other works like Reaching Out are imbued with a kaleidoscopic nature where the full spectrum of light seems to swirl around the canvas in a radial manner. Coalescing in the center are splotches of yellow and blue. The image feels intergalactic and organic all at once, harnessing the power of the microscopic and macroscopic. One is reminded of the internal organs of a flower or the cosmic dance of a supernova. Supernovae are extremely luminous and cause a burst of radiation that often briefly outshines an entire galaxy, before fading from view over several weeks or months. During this short interval a supernova can radiate as much energy as the Sun is expected to emit over its entire life span. Shining just as brightly, Reaching Out offers the viewer an intense wave of stimulation. I recently had the chance to interview Inger Dillan Antonsen to find out more about her work.
Inger Dillan Antonsen: I have always been interested in art, music and above all, dance. My father as a musician wanted me to play piano and viola. Dance class was out of the question as there was no such thing at that time in the little city of Bodø ( north of the polar circle).
I started art school at the National College of fine Arts and Design, Oslo in 1954. I began courses in a fashion designer class and continued there until 1958. That was my mother’s wish, not mine. After several years dancing and playing classical guitar, I finally was brave enough to start painting. I took some art classes in a private art school. I so wanted to paint abstract, but I could not make it to “live”. Landscapes were safe, but I always worked and worked without telling anyone about my abstract color compositions. It took me years to make a breakthrough.
JS: Your abstractions are full of rich color and subtle nuances, how did you arrive at painting this way? And what is your process in the studio?
IDA: Movement is important to me, beauty and balance as well, but above all colors. It has become so much a part of me that it is impossible to explain in words. One thing is for sure, without meditation everyday, I would not be able to paint this way.
When I start painting, I often go through a period of intellectual processes until intuition takes over. Then, and only then, do things start to come alive.
JS: What new directions can we expect from you in the near future?
IDA: I always try to follow the direction the painting takes, and it is always exciting to see what the result will be.