«If I’m happy with a work I can often sit and look at it for a long while, thinking about how it can work in different contexts and settings, or just by itself.»

Kenneth Alme
Oslo, Norway.


Tell us about yourself, how did your artistic career begin?

I went to different art schools for a couple of years before I got admitted to the National Academy of The Arts in Oslo. I did both my bachelor and master’s degree here, with a stay at Städelschule in Frankfurt. I live and work in Oslo and Vestfossen.

Could you tell us about your paintings? How does the new work begin? Do you use any sketches or it is pure improvisation?

My paintings take up the major part of my practice, next to my sculptural and installation works.
They  (the paintings) can often take on different forms regarding the visual outcome. Some are on cotton canvas, other on linen. Some are primed white and others are raw canvas. Some consist of sown together pieces and some have basic imagery. But they all have in common that they are based on a selected source material and they all circle around certain topics. I’m very interested in questions regarding isolation and connections and perceptions of time and history. History is something we learn about, we live in it and experience it and at the same time, we can be blind to it.
So often new work starts out as a prolonging and extension of the former, building on both formal and conceptual aspects.
It’s not all sketches and not all improvisation, rather more research based.
Time in the studio takes on the form of studies I think. You study your work, your studio and your surroundings. You study your contemporaries and your predecessors. You study your time and other types of media and you study yourself.

How much time do you spend in the studio? Describe your usual workday.

I spend as much time as I can in the studio, often days in a row, sleeping on a mattress in the office. It is something very beautiful I think, waking up in the studio, make a cup of coffee and sit down next to your work. The part in the middle, getting to your studio is lost so there is no disruption in between.
I like the isolation part of working in the studio. My studio is located in the countryside outside of Oslo, so there is an element of solitude there that I have learned to appreciate. There are fewer distractions, which I like.
A typical work day would be to get up early, make a pot of coffee and reading the news and answering emails. I will then work in the studio for a long while. Then it is lunch. Maybe I will go for a walk, visit some of the other artists in the building.
In the afternoon I often play around with the Xerox machine for a while, make some fanzines. Then I go back into the studio and work until the evening. Then I make dinner and probably watch a film or read.

Where do you get inspiration from?  Is there something that inspires you most in your work?

There are a couple of books that have been, if not directly inspiring, then at least important to me and how I work. Cormac McCartney’s Blood Meridian has meant a great deal to me, and I think this is in part because of the descriptions of landscapes and sceneries. Full chapters have been dedicated to describing this group of people roaming a desert land, descending into despair and the loss of hope in doing so. It is a strong description of the downfall of humanity and the loss of oneself. W G Sebald is also important to me. In many Sebald’s works, there is a wanderer, travelling through Europe remembering history and how it has had an impact on himself as contrary to Blood Meridians description of human downfall. I tend to seek out literature and music that somewhat works with, or describes the act of moving in one way or the other and puts forth a timeless landscape.

How do you feel the moment that the picture is complete?

That all depends on the result I guess. If I know that the work is finished, in the sense that I cannot work on it anymore and I’m not happy with it I will probably put it away pretty quick. I try not to dwell on (my own) work that is not interesting.
But if I’m happy with a work I can often sit and look at it for a long while, thinking about how it can work in different contexts and settings, or just by itself.
Then you have those works in the middle. The ones that immediately doesn’t interest you, and you feel annoyed that they didn’t turn out better. But there is something there that you can’t let go and you keep looking at it for a while, maybe a couple of days and it grows on you. I like those works.

What about your plans for this year? Have you already planned any exhibitions?

This year I have most of it already planned out, with a residency and exhibition at CCA, Mallorca, the group exhibition at Vestfossen Kunstalboratorium and exhibitions in Berlin and Munich. Furthermore, I curate a group show this summer in Oslo, and my project space Altan has two upcoming shows in 2018.

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