WHO IS JO BENTDAL?
On the occasion of the exhibition Jo Bentdal – Common Sensibility, we have the great pleasure of inviting you to an artist talk with Jo Bentdal and Lars Elton, freelance journalist, critic and editor
SATURDAY 23 JAN 2-3 PM
Jo Bentdal - Common Sensibility opens Thursday 21 january 7-9 pm.
WHO IS JO BENTDAL?
by Lars Elton
Jo Bentdal is a type of artist who works slow and laborious. This is a trait that gives good results. As an artist he is well aware of the unique position photography has as a qualitative recording medium, for indexical observation of reality’s many aspects. But even if his images are a representation of what we recognize from the physical world, what he delivers is still quite distant from the documenting observations of a photojournalist or a street photographer. He does not stop with registering. He charges his motifs with meaning. His understanding of architecture and interiors converts iconic building to scenes of basic, and thus complex, human states and emotions.
In his latest project he has narrowed the scope and concentrated on one, strongly defined theme. He reaches a new level in his new series of portraits of 13 to 15 year old girls. They are in the middle of puberty’s tumultuous transition phase. The eleven girls in the series are caught in the same, simple lighting. Their bodies glow in a darkened room where the surroundings are only suggested. This concentrates the viewer's attention on the girls' appearance, their expression, hairstyle and clothing. They confront us with a direct gaze, and they stand out as serious and thoughtful individuals.
What is interesting is that, as the viewer's gaze rests on the girls, they transform into something else. The girls become an expression of a collective state. Even if they do come forward with their individual characteristics, they are representatives of something larger and universally human.
Behind the girls' self-confident postures there is a vulnerability that will strike any viewer who´s humanity is intact. The photograps find their place in a context defined by art history, and the series as a whole convert the images into objects of meditation. They appear as windows towards something larger than the individual subjects. The series serves as a starting point for philosophical considerations and open up for unexpected thoughts tied to life's big themes. This way the portraits become iconic - if not pure icons?
- Lars Elton
Lars Elton is a freelance journalist, critic and editor. He is the art and architecture critic of the two daily newspapers Dagsavisen and VG and writes about art and culturally related topics in a wide variety of publications. (email@example.com)