The project for this exhibition was a great opportunity for me to make faded memories surface again, tread my own paths backwards and look for reasons and connections. Most importantly, it sparked off a whole questioning process – how have the stories and fairy tales of my childhood influenced my work and who I am?
For this exhibition, I made three paintings whose starting points were three visual elements I remembered particularly well and which had undoubtedly left their marks – flashbacks (good and/or bad ones) and helped me shape my personality…  
Inspiration comes from the following:  
- Rango, a super-8 movie (with the image on the spool box) made by Merian Caldwell Cooper and Ernest Beaumont Schoedsack in 1931 and distributed by Castle films in New York.
- Faithful and unfaithful by Birger Moss Johnsen. Illustration on the cover of the book by Asbjørnsen and Moe – Fairy tales for children, published by N.W. Damm & Son, Oslo, 1948.
- Noah’s Ark by Gösta Geerd. Illustration on the cover of Mitt Skattkammer number 5 (a 12-volume collection of tales for children), published by Teknisk Forlag, Olso, 1956.
Step by step, in total freedom, I painted sequences in which each step of the process represents a new approach, includes a new element and/or erases others and finally modifies the perception of space-time. The canvasses represent a kind of journey along my own memories, projecting me back and forth in my memory and become places where my imagination and my actual experiences unite.
Life is mostly a process of perceptions and that’s what I meant to show with this work. Even what seems immutable at first sight actually changes and evolves. This is especially true for tales which have been passed on and transformed orally, by word of mouth, from mother or father to son, from one generation to the next. Tales are thus the ultimate sparks of imagination. It is this magical mechanism of transmission, interpretation and transformation that I attempted to materialize.
If pictorial expression is predominant in my work, sound is an essential underlying element associated to my visual memories. Words which refer to sound are often used when forms and colors are shown – they scream, talk to us, are silent or quiet…Rango was a silent movie. Yet I could also hear it. Not only did the projector make its peculiar whirring as a background noise but images also produced sounds and even screams inside me!
When tales were told at bedtime, it was important for me to look at the illustrations. They served as a springboard to see the “movie” during the reading and would linger or project to other imaginary stories. These “movies” were also accompanied by various sounds. My mother and my father read the same stories, yet they didn’t tell the same ones in the end.
In turn I had my children discover tales among which were inevitably Norwegian ones, as well as Norwegian television programs made for children of their generation but also some that I used to watch when I was their age and which have become mythical in Norway. The fact is that when I asked my eldest son to create a montage with photos taken one after another during the creation process of the paintings in the making, he suggested at once to add a soundtrack. He could “hear” images which reawaked in him memories or associations of ideas, sometimes composed of stereotyped impressions that he remembered or that forged in him. This time it’s about his interpretations which can differ from my first intentions sometimes. Once again it’s about a new approach in the transfer process. My son sometimes underlined, dramatized or minimized elements which I don’t perceive as such. If my work raises serious issues at first sight, I also resort to underlying humor sometimes verging on cynicism.      
He sensed these elements and through sound underlined tipping points where opposite emotions can meet; laughter and tears, joy and sadness, trust and anxiety…
The last stages of the “finished” paintings are those which are visible to the viewer of course. However, the stages which were successively covered and modified can matter just as much in the process. Just like our memories which fade and modify in our memories, the stages have shaped our personality and constitute us fully. Some moments remain clear and tangible, others fade away into the distance…Yet in spite of those thin layers which prevent us from distinguishing all the elements, we know they are here; condensed as on a hard disk, where time and space mingle and fall into place at the same time.
Finally the approach is also the reflection of the working conditions of many artists in history – making a new painting over an already painted other one was not rare – and still isn’t for some of them. Because they couldn’t afford it, many great artists didn’t necessarily have access to blank new canvasses and had to resort to “recycling” a painting they hadn’t sold or deemed bad.
The making of the stages of each painting evolved quite spontaneously and naturally. Listening to my past and my artistic journey, I traced my work back, discovering connections that I hadn’t been aware of so far. The three paintings thus represent some kinds of synthesis, like the synopsis of a book.  That’s why I chose to photograph the different stages before veiling them and making them visible to the eye; not only did it enable me to visualize the process and keep virtual marks, a testimony of what does remain real despite the apparent disappearance, like our memory which fades, which is forgotten and even denied sometimes; but it also enabled me to use them as visual memory-catchers or hashtags to choose other works for this exhibition too.
The works shown thus come from different periods and enable to materialize the common thread of my work for thirty years already.
Articles et textes
Oddbjørg REINTON
visual artist
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