Sunday, May 22, 2011

Trine Mauritz Eriksen, "Moderato Cantabile"

I went to Svalbard for 10 days this Easter. It was my first time there, and I had expected to see spectacular landscape and beautiful light. But I had not been able to imagine just how intense and different the arctic light would be, and I was surprised by the calm, cloister-like feeling I got from moving around in the wide, white expanse.

With no trees and simple, consistent lines, the Svalbard landscape reminded me of the hills in New Mexico, the way  Georgia O'Keeffe painted them.

Kåre Tveter, "Innover breene". Photo from artnet.

One evening, as I sat in a cabin looking across the ice covered fjord at very light blue mountains that were barely discernible from the late night (but light!) evening sky, it struck me how difficult it must be to convey such simple beauty in painting. I know that many artists have tried, and I saw quite a few attempts in Longyearbyen, but most often I thought the result became too sweet and cliché. 

However, in the departure hall in Longyearbyen Airport, a three part work by Trine Mauritz Eriksen sums up the arctic light and landscape very well. It is titled "Moderato Cantabile", a musical term that I think covers a similar feeling to that calm, almost meditative mood I mentioned above.

Trine Mauritz Eriksen, "Moderato Cantible", Svalbard Airport, Photo: Birger Amundsen.

Trine Mauritz Eriksen, "Moderato Cantible", Svalbard Airport, Photo: Birger Amundsen.

Having experienced some grey days during my stay, and knowing that winter in the Arctic is completely dark, save the Northern Lights, I very much enjoyed the play of light and subtle colors in her non-figurative interpretation, made from twisted strips of colored wool.