The Crone with the Cane
Spontaneous compositions by Kjartan Slettemark: The white canvases are partially covered by shapes in the primary colors of red, yellow, and blue. Only in a few of the pictures, the paint has sometimes mixed and blended, so we see signs of green and orange.
Slettemark’s twelve watercolor paintings at the Psychology Faculty are very similar in appearance, and they all have the same title: Kjerringa med staven (The crone with the cane). The style is abstracted, expressionist. The shapes are reminiscent of fireworks, flowers or haystacks. The expression is free, almost explosive.
The prehistory of this series is enlightening. The paintings were all created during a performance at Muséplassen in Bergen in 1996, where Slettemark, wearing a dress, sang the folk tune Kjerringa med staven while he painted. He got the paint from a butter churn, and his "brush" was a mop.
Kjartan Slettemark (1932-2008) was known to cause controversy, both with the pictures he presented, and in his public appearances. Throughout a long career he explored various styles and media. The collage Av rapport fra Vietnam (Of report from Vietnam) from 1965 is considered one of the most important political artworks in Norway. The project Nixon Visions involved traveling Europe with a passport containing a photograph of Richard Nixon’s face, disguised with Slettemark’s own beard and hair. He often appeared in striking costumes, including a Burqa and a King poodle costume. Slettemark received the Stockholm City honorary award in 1988, the Arts Council Norway’s award in 2001 and the Höcker award from the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts in 2003. He is represented in the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Amos Andersson Art Museum in Helsinki, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Oslo, to mention just a few.
NORA SØRENSEN VAAGE