Malin Gabriella Nordin
For Malin Gabriella Nordin, the experience of creating is like unveiling the evolution of a new world. The sensation, aura and mood of her works are inspired by an acute intuition and awareness of the power of imagination. She is driven to explore possibility and experience her artwork as it appears in dreams. A champion of collage since she was a child, Nordin has been creating with such intuition throughout her life. She attended Bergen Academy of Art and Design in Bergen, Norway where she was able to develop her natural curiosities into a pulsating awareness of delicacy, color and form.
Aware of the finer processes by which one can question reality and the accepted laws of life, she is able to divulge meaning from interconnectivity and the unconscious. The beauty of her work comes from the willingness to insert true whimsicality and freedom into existence. Through a dynamic tension that is present in much of her work, particularly in her collages, she plays with the idea of a self-contained, self-revealing world in which an artwork can begin conversation and invite a push and pull of emotion. This tension also fascinatingly presents an open-ended completeness in which works feel absolute, but not resolved.
Her command of visual agency is paralleled by the equally romantic way in which she describes her work to me. Her sagacious understanding of her own view of the world is reflected in the honesty of her work.
Can you talk a little bit about your background and education in art? How did you develop such a strong visual identity?
I attended the Bachelor program in Fine Arts at Bergen Academy of Art and Design in Bergen, Norway (2010-2013). It’s really a luxury going to art school — to be able to afford the time to work in a studio everyday, exploring your thoughts and the meeting with others; to do what you believe in and not to think of how other people will appreciate it or not, because that’s just obstructive; to explore and have fun while doing it, finding your own voice; having the time to try new things and not get stuck just doing stuff you know you’re good at, experimenting and evolving.
Going into art has never really been a choice for me, it’s just what I have done. From what I’ve heard from my parents, my favorite hobby when I was a kid was to cut up all their magazines and tape them together again, but in a different way. I always collected “good garbage”, which was egg cartons, empty boxes, styrofoam, etc. and when I had enough, I built different things. I guess I’ve just continued, but with new materials and ideas. And I truly hope I will continue to develop and experiment the rest of my life. My worst fear is to only do the same kind of work year in and year out, to get stuck.
My work is a place where I can go whenever I want, where the rules of physics and time we are used to no longer apply, and where I don’t have to take any consideration. I try to not censor myself, letting it flow and through that discover new worlds. It’s like a story unfolding, honest and intuitive. I try to listen to the inner dialogue that arises between me and the work and to cherish the straightforward and sincere. I go back and forth between techniques and materials, setting different types of moods. Making collages is a very delicate process and very much like a game of chess with an array of possibilities. I have a box in which I store cutouts and once I feel inspired, I take it out. Painting on the other hand is a very physical experience for me. It’s more immediate, messy and a bit of a work-out too!
Your work often utilises a brilliant, vibrant palette. How you do view your relationship with color and its role in your work?
I love how everything depends on its surroundings, and how little it takes to change the whole composition and feeling of a work. Shapes and colour evolve into a composition, the feeling of a line or a texture and how it changes in the meeting of another. How different colours feel, their different qualities and vibrations and what happens when you combine them.
When I close my eyes, sensations of shapes and colours emerge, compositions start to flow in different directions and colours take place and change the whole atmosphere. I’ve seen so many unpainted paintings in my dreams. My work becomes a way for me to explore my unconscious, but to go deeper in oneself, you also begin to understand how everything is connected and with that comes a questioning of the reality we live in...
I especially love your collages; I notice a lot of natural motifs, exploratory texture and aura of freedom and whimsicality. How do you go about developing these works and capturing the right mood within them?
Generally, I want a piece to have a sense of completion but still be filled with possibilities. I find it very tiresome with people wanting answers all the time: What is it? What does it mean? Why? I appreciate things that aren’t so given, like passing by a conversation and not getting to hear the end of it, or thinking of the universe. It allows for more space for my own imagination to take precedence.
The composition is a crucial part of my work. I want to create some sort of tension. I wish to let the viewer constantly find new ways of looking at the work, to let the eyes wander around but always keep returning to see different structures emerge.
Once a work is finished, it’s both foreign and familiar to me at the same time. It’s almost like encountering a distant soulmate you haven’t previously met. I try to not to get stuck in old patterns, so for example working with collage, which I have since 2009, there comes a point where I can’t produce any more for a while. In theory, perhaps I could make another one that would look visually appealing, but it won’t give me anything if it doesn’t feel truly right, it will become pointless and flat. Instead, when I feel stuck I try switching to a different media, material or size and hopefully I can find something in that which renders something new and leads me back to the former with new perspectives.
What’s next in your practice?
Right now I’m preparing my solo show ‘Below, Within’ at Mini Galerie in Amsterdam (opening) 17th March, and also a group show in Stockholm with my new studio collective Atlasgruppen (Duda Bebek, Tommy Sveningsson, Alexandra Karpilovski) in April.
I would love to know a bit more about your studio collective Atlasgruppen. How did the members of the collective meet? Is there a common artistic vision, interest or goal that the members share?
Alexandra Karpilovski is one of my best friends since almost a decade, and we have been sharing a temporary studio from time to time before. Duda Bebek and Tommy Sveningsson are also represented by Gallery Steinsland Berliner, and we got to know each other at our yearly christmas dinner at GSB two years ago.
When I signed the contract for the studio I already had Alexandra with me and the goal was to find two more artists to share with. We wanted to do something more than just have a regular studio. The third one was Duda and shortly after Tommy moved in. The whole constellation has come together in the best way possible, we have a really dynamic relationship. We all have our separate practice but we also do projects and shows together as Atlasgruppen. The space is very open so we are in direct contact with each other most of the time. It’s a very relaxed space for us, with friends coming and returning, shows and happenings appearing, it is a space growing organically.
Images courtesy of the Artist
Malin Gabriella Nordin
Interview SARAH CARTER