By Tajudeen Sowole
Norwegian artist, Bente Vindvik's solo art exhibition of paintings titled A Nordic View of Nigeria and currently showing for three weeks at Quintessence Gallery, Parkview, Ikoyi, Lagos is one parting gift that presents the host country as a place of colourful paradox and energy. Vindvik, an expatriate who lived in Angola for three years and is currently on her way out of Nigeria after staying here for four years will also be taking some African values with her to Norway, so suggest the thematic contents of her paintings.
|Blue Woman, a painting by Bente Vindvik|
During a preview for select guests, Vindvik showed paintings of ordinary people on the streets, whose activities "are full of energy,” colourful birds captured from the back of her Ikoyi residence and quite some images that stress deep interest in her host community. For example, Independent, a back view portrait of a lady and Blue Woman, a close view face explain what the artist meant when she disclosed that "I see hope in the Nigerian woman." In fact, the portraits, she added, "are inspired by the hope I see in these women."
Vindvik is not exactly an artist that has a distinct kind of styles, either in her brushings or forms; the body of work in A Nordic View of Nigeria could have come from as many as two or more artists. The eclectic texture of her oeuvre, she said is almost spontaneous. "My identity is subject to the mood and the way I use colours at a particular period.” And also, the environment, books and music play vital role in energising the mood. For example, her interest in African literature and art appears to have swelled some of the native contents in her paintings.
“My mission as an artist has always been to recreate what I see in my own very personal way,” Vindvik said, stressing a seemingly styles implored in some of the portraits. “I am not a naturalist," she warned, despite what she described as getting " inspiration, sometimes, in trying to recreate people and other living things as accurately as possible."
On application of light, the climate back home influences the brightness of her canvas "Light fascinates me because in Norway we have a lot of light in the summer with very long days.” Coming from a country of 5 million people to a city of about 20 million in population seems to give Vindvik some kind of theatrics perspective to life in Nigeria. "The energy on the streets here is amazing compared to my country of five million people." And the art in Nigeria, she noted, imbibes the strength on the streets such that. "I am impressed with what I have seen so far."
Also, one of the interesting captures of nature on her canvas is titled Small Talks, a conversation between birds. From her window in Ikoyi, Lagos Island, she had noticed the " colourful birds that inspire me to recreate them on canvas." But the rendition of the image on canvas takes the stylised aspect of Vindvik 's.
She recalled how her journey through the colours and energy of Africa started after stepping onto the soil of Angola seven years ago. In Angola, "everywhere you had the red, ochre-coloured sand and vegetation shifting from deep green to the greyness of the semi-arid coastal areas." Leaving the former Portuguese colony, Vindvik had a group exhibition with the locals in Luanda after working with the artists. "It gave me a lot of inspiration to be in that environment which is so different from my home country.”
Vindvik had training as art and design teacher at the Telemark University College, Høgskolen in Telemark, Norway and studied Art History at the University of Bergen, Norway. She is also trained in diverse areas of art, from 1984 till 2014,
Her bio says she has shown at various exhibitions in the Norwegian cities such as Stavanger, Sola, Sandnes and Flekkefjord. Through workshops, she sharpened her skills in sculptures and paintings under Prof Reidar Berge, Prof Hugo Wathne, in Norway; Prof Aase Heidi Moran and Prof Peter Esdaile, in the US. And at the Vrå College in Denmark, she had additional training in acrylic technique.
She had also participated in exhibitions at Gallery Celemar in Luanda, Angola and in various excursions to study art and artists to UK, France and Italy.