In the winter, an enormous, drafty building sits unoccupied in an old Norwegian shipyard. Used for constructing ships until 1988, the building will remain empty until Kristin Romberg installs her free-hanging paintings inside this summer.
Suspended like quilts on a clothesline, Kristin’s colorful work will float above the ground, illuminated by warm light flooding through the hall’s large, vertical windows. “The room is enormous, but for me it feels just right,” says Kristin, who allows the building’s lofty architecture to highlight her expressive work. “It is silent, and [there] is room for my thoughts and my energy,” she continues. Like Helen Frankenthaler, Kristin prefers raw canvas, often ditching the stretchers to create borderless work that stays true to the spirit of abstract expressionism.
Whether she’s installing work at the shipyard or experimenting at her new studio on an Arctic island, Kristin seeks to inspire wonder and curiosity by encouraging viewers to touch and lift her paintings. “My artistic project is about creating a tactile space where people can dream, escape, wonder, breathe, stop, and feel,” she writes in her artist statement. “I try to evoke nature and offer the audience an experience of moving around in a dense forest or a jungle.”
Visitors to the shipyard this summer can graze the bottom of Kristin’s hanging paintings with their fingertips, interacting with the work like they would with nature on a long hike. “I walk a lot, both in the woods and in the mountains, and I have discovered that if I touch a tree on a trail where thousands of tourists have walked before me, the tree is completely slippery and worn,” Kristin says. “I can feel the traces of everyone before me. The same effect occurs when many visitors have touched my paintings. The works will be worn and have traces, and the traces become part of the work.”
Treating her studio sessions like a performance, Kristin moves into and around the edges of her work as she paints. “It's like a ritual dance where every stroke and every gesture is directly rooted in time and place,” she says, explaining that an “inner force” drives her to project her insights onto canvas. “My role […] is to create a timeless space for the viewer,” she continues. “A space with time for reflection, wonder, and a feeling of being alive.”
“My artistic project is about creating a tactile space where people can dream, escape, wonder, breathe, stop, and feel.” — Kristin Romberg
All photos published with permission of the artist(s); photo credit: Kristin Romberg.
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