What is a relief?
Else Hagen's wall art in the HF library is a vibrant play with depths and colors.
The relief is a sculptural form with a long tradition, both in stone, wood and bronze. Characteristic for a relief sculpture is that it is attached to the wall. The shape is usually decorative, and often shows beautiful forms with a story. When you enter the lobby of the HF University Library, you look straight at a relief in bronze and colored enamel. The relief has no clear motif; the colors dominate.
The enamel is inlaid in the deeper parts of the relief. The green, red, blue and orange against the protruding copper causes an interplay between foreground and background. We are accustomed to thinking that the colors grow softer in the depth of the picture - it is one of painting’s conventions that warm colors appear closer than cold. Hagen breaks with these conventions, and lets us experience a tension between depth and flatness in her relief.
Else Hagen (1914-2010) has decorated so many of Norway’s public spaces that she has been called the “grande dame” of Norwegian monumental art. She started out as a painter, but was one of the first to experiment with metal, wood, glass and stone. In later years she worked predominantly with such materials. Hagen was the first female artist in Norway who completed a major decoration commission, with the wall paintings at Nøtterøy Junior High School in 1950. The stair hall in Parliament, the expedition hall in Tromsø Airport and the commercial building Postgirobygget in Oslo are all decorated with her monumental work.
NORA SØRENSEN VAAGE