Mental Landscaping / Iben From. Direktør. KunstCentret Silekeborg Bad
There are good reasons why a painter should develop expertise with colour. Colour is like a country, a kingdom full of meaning and vibrant life. The artist’s eye sees this and attempts to understand it. It’s an expertise that takes time to develop, through sensing and experiencing the colours in nature, the colour of landscapes, the colour of life and colour in itself.
Birgitte Lund’s mind, eye and hand work to translate and formulate what she has experienced into her paintings. Colours are connected to shapes and balanced with other colours and shapes. It does not resemble anything in particular but yet resembles something anyway. The paintings show a rhythm, a dimension of something that can be found in the external world. Her sensing and experiencing now become new landscapes, visual landscapes in the form of paintings. There is a rhythm and a pulse, where nothing seems to stand still.
Birgitte Lund applies water-colour techniques in the formulation of her paintings. She experiments with various binding agents and materials, which give different textural characters, even within the same painting. A characteristic of her work is the transparent, layered construction that suggests stories, which clash with one another and then disappear again. The paintings generally suggest a horizontal direction. Just like a landscape, the gaze can flow freely from side to side, and into the horizon. Using different means, the artist challenges the directionality of the picture. An access point of easy readability and pure decoration gets sabotaged, small patches and flakes of paint act as vertical braking or barriers to movement. The same flakes add a dimension of in-front and behind, as another direction is now introduced into the picture.
Despite this, it is horizontal movement that dominates the paintings’ directionality. Birgitte Lund works serially where several pictures are placed beside and above each other in rows. The square, which in itself gives no horizontal or vertical preference, provides a little braking. Viewing her work can be compared to speeding along in a train, where the outside gets fragmented and is seen as stripes and impression streaks from, perhaps, a dark forest, a blue lake, the shimmering houses and signs of a city or an expansive landscape. The square is repeated but the content provides the variation. The repetition of the same shape or form is an avenue to extend the terrain or mental landscaping.
Other artists have also worked intensely and in a focused way with colour, but Birgitte Lund does it in her own way. When abstract art was introduced in about 1910, several artists began a number of visual discussions about the purpose and expressive means of art. One discussion was around the intrinsic value of colour. Is colour something in itself, what is its symbolic value and what relation does colour have to observed object? Many have contributed to these discussions, which in turn led to many more discussions. In addition to his own works, Wassily Kandinsky proposed and formulated a theoretical basis for abstract art. The Russian-born, and later American artist Mark Rothko, was another amongst them. In the 1930s he started a study about colour as communication that continued to his death. Danish artists have also participated in studying the fundamental elements of painting since the 1930s. For example the artists in the group Linjen II, including Richard Mortensen, found many allegories to music within abstract art. He demonstrated colour as movement, as a living element. A contemporary Danish artist, who also addresses colour as a form of independent expression, the principal artistic perception as it were, is the painter Majbritt Ulvedal Bjelke, who has also been working on her colour studies for the past 20 years.
Birgitte Lund however is herself an exponent of lyrical abstraction, that doesn’t start with the colour itself, but in one sense or another with nature. The initial inspiration maybe physical or mental - and then comes the colour. Colour is a way to relate to the world and the clear landscaping of colour in her work has a poem’s qualities. Colour can be compared to words in poem, which when read opens the poem to more layers and meanings, later breaking the narrative so the rhythm of the sound is now in control, and now breaking to a new part of the story and so on. This is how she measures and uses colour - allowing the colours to collide in unexpected ways.
For nearly a decade, Birgitte Lund has worked in the mental dimension, under the ambiguous title “Psychedelic Landscapes”. Did I see this in the painting or did it arise from the inside, so to speak? Or is it an impression from the outside? The question keeps arising. Many of the paintings have spaces – horizontal bands of white bare canvas, a type of hole, mental spaces that cannot be described, but instead give space for reflection.