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​New exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art: “On the Verge: Sidsel Paaske (1937–1980)”. The versatile artist who never held her fire

Press Release   •   Oct 13, 2016 09:16 BST

Extinguished Match, 1966, wood, textiles and sequins by Sidsel Paaske. Photo: Nasjonalmuseet/Børre Høstland

“We play while we practise” was Sidsel Paaske’s motto in life. During her brief but multifaceted career as an artist, she was always searching for an unvarnished and genuine outlet for her energy outside of the conventional norms of quality. A special press showing will be held on Wednesday, 19 October, at 11:00. To register, please contact Media and Press Manager Elise Lund (elise.lund@nasjonalmuseet.no). The regular exhibition opens on Friday, 21 October.

Ever since she began her artistic career in the early 1960s, Sidsel Paaske was intensely open to new impulses, whether African art, Norwegian folk music, objets trouvés, or unconventional materials.

Marginalized in Norwegian art history. The Museum of Contemporary Art’s new exhibition, titled “On the Verge: Sidsel Paaske (1937–1980)”, examines how such a complex and ground-breaking artist as Paaske could end up being so overlooked in Norwegian art history. Stina Högkvist, the curator of the exhibition, has recently researched Paaske’s life and works in depth, studying an extensive collection of material (letters, posters, diaries, newspaper clippings, sculptures, jewellery, illustrations, music, sketches, collages, and paintings) and interviewing people closely connected to the artist.

Created Norway’s first work of pop art. During her career, Paaske expressed herself through many different techniques and media forms, such as watercolour, painting, textile, enamel, music, text, book illustrations, sculpture, and jewellery. Her works include the very first Norwegian work of pop art, Brent fyrstikk (Extinguished Match, 1966) – 21 years before Claes Oldenburg, the doyen of American pop art, created his version of the same motif.

Held over ten solo exhibitions before her untimely death. As a member of the Gruppe Gullfisken (“Goldfish Group”) and the Skippergata artistic community in Oslo, an active participant in art politics, and a feminist, Paaske was a central figure in Oslo’s art scene from 1965 to 1980. When she suddenly passed away at the age of 43, she had already managed to hold over ten solo exhibitions and participate in just as many group exhibitions. She had also sung with the American jazz great Don Cherry and created set designs and other visual effects for the Norwegian musicians Arne Nordheim and Jan Garbarek.

But what happened then? The encyclopaedic work Norsk Kunsthistorie (Norwegian art history), published a mere three years after Paaske’s death, fails to even mention her, and it was first in 1999 that a posthumous retrospective was organized.

Harriet Backer and Christian Krohg also featured in the exhibition. The result is an uncommonly colourful retrospective that also includes works by such seminal artists as Claes Oldenburg, Henrik Olesen, Harriet Backer, Christian Krohg, and Jean Heiberg.The exhibition is part of the Museum of Contemporary Art’s ongoing efforts to re‑evaluate and enlarge Norwegian art history from the recent past. The exhibition will be complemented by a richly illustrated catalogue featuring texts by Jan Erik Vold, Jorunn Veiteberg, Terje Mosnes, and Stina Högkvist. The Gyldendal publishing house will also publish a new edition of Vold’s 1966 poetry collection Hekt as illustrated by Paaske.

“On the verge: Sidsel Paaske (1937–1980)” will run until 26 February 2017. The exhibition’s curator is Stina Högkvist (stina.hogkvist@nasjonalmuseet.no/ mob. +47 450 34 635).

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