It’s a great pleasure to present Julie Nord’s (DK 1970) first solo exhibition at V1 Gallery.
The Children – 10 large watercolor and felt-tip pen drawings and 12 smaller black and white works – is the second part of a larger project Julie Nord commenced in 2011 with the title Family Patterns. The first part Family was shown in 2012 at Gallery Brandstrup in Oslo. The fairy tale world that characterizes her earlier works has been replaced by an examination of the family portrait genre, still centered around the child - both on a philosophical, psychological and formal level.
The Portrait traditionally associated with something truthful, ie. a realistic depiction of the portrayed, is jeopardized in the works of Julie Nord. In these works she combines familiar and cliché-like imagery of childhood, homeliness and family in new ways - either by unexpected juxtapositions or by breaking up the surface of the picture in various ways – so they loose their original meaning. Particularly our view on the child has virtually stayed unchanged since the Romantic Movement, where concepts such as the innocence of childhood and the natural child came into being with the French philosopher Jean-Jaques Rousseau. When Julie Nord to a larger extent focuses on “childhood” as a social construction, cracks occur between the idea of the child and the child itself (the individual).
The faces in the portraits disappear and emerge – in a constant change. In contrast the wallpaper in the background and the patterns in the clothes appear sharp and clear in their meticulous execution. In some works the wallpaper ornaments blend in with the faces. In other works the faces are just a blank void. Contrary to the larger colored portraits the 12 smaller black and white works are executed more loosely, more expressively, sketchy like and immediate. They are much more like a stream of consciousness. Recognizable elements from children books among other things that Julie Nord borrows from can be found in the works. But they are being drowned out by more or less absurd disturbances; the girl has the head of budgerigar, the rabbit in the racecar crystalizes into psychedelic formations and strange growths emerge from blankets and checked shirts.
In this exhibition we are not merely viewers, Julie Nord literally invites us into the world of her children in the works. A part of the gallery is transformed to a smaller installation that underlines the theatrical aspects of the portraits. 2 children chairs and a bench is placed in the space, where visitors can experience the works from a child’s perspective accompanied by a soundtrack; children’s laughter in the distance, footsteps, a fly buzzing, a door that squeaks. The sounds, composed by the musician and composer Halfdan E, creates an uncanny feeling that there is something going on that we can’t see - ghostly traces of the child and the child's room?
The portraits of Julie Nord do not meet our expectations of what we understand by a portrait or childhood. She is all through ambivalent and avoids with artistic consequence the unilateral. Instead she puts the viewer in a questioning position to dogmas and firmly cemented perceptions of reality.
Even though it’s Julie Nord’s first solo exhibition at V1 Gallery she already had several exhibitions in Denmark and abroad. She has exhibited at Aros, Aarhus Art Museum, Turku Museum of Art, Finland, Galleri Brandstrup, Oslo and Houldsworth Gallery, London. This November Julie Nord's family and children portraits can be experienced at Kunsten – Museum of Modern Art Aalborg and in April 2014 the same exhibition, supplemented with new works will be shown at Kunstforeningen Gl. Strand, Copenhagen. Her works are represented among other places at 21C Museum, Kentucky, USA, The Walsall Museum of Fine Art, UK, Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen, ARoS, Aarhus Art Museum, Arken, Ishøj and Vejle Art Museum.