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Anne-Karin Furunes | ALL MOST: Paintings of Svalbard



Meditating on the natural world, its sublime beauty, and the current environmental threats imperiling it, Anne-Karin Furunes‘s current exhibition ALL MOST: Paintings of Svalbard addresses the catastrophic consequences of global warming and the ephemera of nature through monumental depictions of icebergs and various transient states of precipitation.

Anne-Karin Furunes: ALL MOST, installed at RYAN LEE, 2023
Anne-Karin Furunes: ALL MOST: Paintings of Svalbard, installed at RYAN LEE, 2023

Employing her long-time engagement with archival photographs, these new paintings are inspired by the ongoing documentation of calving icebergs in the remote archipelago of Svalbard, Norway that have been compiled by glaciologists at the Norwegian Polar Institute. To make the works presented in this exhibition, Furunes accompanied scientists to travel to Svalbard. The works, both tragic and captivating, beckon viewers to become re-enchanted by our ecologies. They ignite Furunes’s belief in “a possible future where we can continue to admire life in its manifold shapes and ways,” and in a world where we can more truly “live in harmony with other living beings.”

Furunes working in her studio in Trondheim, Norway
Anne-Karin Furunes
Cumulus I (detail), 2022

The works on view in the exhibition expand on Furunes’s signature technique on canvas. This meticulous method mimics the look of halftone printing with its countless hand-hammered, tiny perforations and numerous layers of hand-painted pointillistic dots. While the perforations lend the monumental canvases contrast, the layers of indigo, cyan, magenta, and yellow dots render their color. From up close, the pointillistic details are entirely abstract, while from afar, the human eye joins red, blue and yellow channels to create the clarified image.



Furunes working in her studio in Trondheim, Norway

The artist’s control of light, scale and color deploys slight optical illusions that adjust the viewer’s perception, based on where they’re standing. The immersion in both scene and detail invites proximity and empathy toward the glacial trauma, and its suggestions of imminent climate tragedies. Through this process she is literally shedding light on the ongoing destruction of the natural world.

Furunes working in her studio in Trondheim, Norway

Furunes based her project on her own photography and that of the Norwegian Polar Institute and pioneering environmental activist Hanna Resvoll Holmsen (b. 1873 – d. 1943). Using the novel medium of color photography, Holmsen – similarly to Furunes – travelled to Svalbard in 1907 to document humanity’s impact on the arctic archipelago. Picturing the fragile eggs of an eider bird, Eider Nest in Colesbay, Svalbard (2023) is based off of one of these historic photographs.

While Furunes’s newest works focus her gaze on the global state of a victimized ecosystem, her previous works have powerfully presented human victims of history – particularly her evocative depictions of Norway’s colonized native Sámi people. These works, executed in black and white, have been the subject of solo exhibitions around the world. In 2014, Furunes presented Anne-Karin Furunes: Shadows at the Palazzo Fortuny in Venice, Italy, in conjunction with the Biennale. More recently, in 2021, her work was the subject of a solo exhibition at Nordenfjeldske Kunstindustrimuseum in Trondheim, Norway, titled Plissé. Anne-Karin Furunes.

Anne-Karin Furunes: Shadows, installed at Palazzo Fortuny, Venice, Italy, 2014
Plissé. Anne-Karin Furunes, installed at Nordenfjeldske Kunstindustrimuseum, Tondheim, Norway, 2021