Gerhardsen Gerner

Per Inge Bjørlo

29 Jan - 18 Feb 2016

29 January – February 2016

"How many phrases are in circulation in art and literary criticism that admonish us against private sphere, that maintain with haughty conviction that art can be, or rather should be personal, but never private?"
Stig Sæterbakken (2012)

Bjørlo is driven to artistic creation. He can't help it. It simply flows from him. Many of his key works have dealt with the dynamics of the "inside" and the "outside", and have titles such as "Inner Space", "Fear", "Reclining" or "Hope". In this respect, it is important to the artist to utilize many different artistic media, with which he can harness this urge to allow the inside to come out. His work ranges from woodcuts and drawings, to paintings and steel sculptures, to multimedia installations. Here, Bjørlo is interested in unusual and often industrial materials. He paints onto synthetic felt or burns it, creating brownish-black shapes. Burned and charred materials or a room created from used rubber tires (“Inner Space I”, 1985) emits strong odors. Bjørlo not only engages the visual sense of the viewer, but also irritates their sense of smell.

Bjørlo has always created furniture objects. Discomfort is to be found here through broken glass and sharp steel edges. The welded, shiny steel briefly conjures images from the films of David Cronenberg and is reminiscent of the aesthetics of operating theaters. When coming into contact with this furniture, our bodies are forced to work hard and perhaps not remain unscathed.

That is what Bjørlo's art is all about: It is never merely appealing! It always creates space for the marginal and the uncomfortable.

In his third solo exhibition with Gerhardsen Gerner, Per Inge Bjørlo focuses exclusively on sculpture. Bjørlo calls the steel sculptures of this series "Beds": "Adult Bed", "Adolescent Bed" and "Child Bed". The titles suggest that the works are meant as furniture for the imaginary worlds of people of different ages. Or for a family.

The beds are highly charged "life works". "The Adolescent Bed" consists of a simple steel platform, under which lay two pieces of curved, polished, thorny tube. At one end a buzzing industrial lamp is burning, interrogating sleep with sound and glaring light. In "Adult Bed", a steel platform can also be found in the middle of a circular collection of mirrors. Above it is a low-hanging chandelier with many crystals, projecting its shining sparkle through the space. In „Child Bed“, the viewer is confronted with a many-armed, stainless steel creature with much too large a head, laying on a low platform. Some of its arms are raised defensively into the air.
Bjørlo combines the bed series with two compact works, entitled "Bell Earth" and "Bel Air", that produce sound, if manual power is applied.

Per Inge Bjørlo acts in art in a way that is similar to what Antonin Artaud envisaged for theater. His form of theater is not meant to follow classical dramatic rules, but make theater into a physical, emotional and unique experience for actors and audience.

In "The Theater and Its Double", Artaud says: "I use the word cruelty in the sense of a lust for life, of cosmic grimness and relentless necessity, in the Gnostic sense of a maelstrom that engulfs the darkness, in the sense of that pain and its inevitable necessity, without which, life would be impossible."

In a nutshell, this statement sums up Per Inge Bjørlo's inner drive to create art.


The pressure of our time,
the volume of ourselves.
My journey,
your journey,
our journey –
impossible to hold back...

Per Inge Bjørlo, 2016

Bjørlo was born in 1952 in Spjelkavik, Ålesund. He lives and works in Hønefoss, Norway. His work has been featured in numerous institutional exhibitions within Scandinavia and beyond, including: Vandalorum, Värnamo; Bjørlo/Sandberg, Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Oslo; Bomuldsfabriken, Arendal; Bergen Kunstmuseum, Bergen; Henie Onstad Artcenter, Oslo; Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo; The National Museum of Contemporary Art, Oslo; Lillehammer Artmuseum, Lillehammer; Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Helsingborg; XLIII La Biennale di Venezia, Venice; Daad Galerie, Berlin; 18th International Art Biennial, Sao Paulo.

Group shows include: Norwegian Profiles. Bjørlo/Sandberg, Gothar Kunstforum, Cologne; Folkwang Museum, Essen; Kunsthalle Essen, Essen; Kunsthalle Rostock, Rostock; Seoul International Print Biennial, Seoul; Kunsthalle Rostock, Rostock; Barclay/Bjørgengen/Bjørlo. Extended Points, Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo.

Tags: Antonin Artaud, Per Inge Bjørlo