Erlend Grytbakk Wold


“You open yourself to judgement, the failures are on you, but so are the successes”

AT: Where are you from and how/why did you start engaging with art?

EGW: I’m from Trondheim, a city in the middle of Norway. I grew up with art and artworks as a natural part of my surroundings. My grandfather was an artist, and art was a part of everyday life, as his paintings and prints hung in the homes of all of my family. I also vividly remember visiting museums when on holiday, or being at some gallery openings. But this was just how things were. Actually engaging with art, becoming an active viewer and practitioner came gradually throughout my teens.


AT: When did it become serious?

EGW: I started to pursue art with more that just adolescent seriousness when moving to a small town in the Lofoten archipelago after high school. I lived there for two years, attending a preparatory art and film school. It was a tightly knit creative community of young people, with great teachers and students that pushed each other artistically. Those two years definitely got me hooked on making art, and made me decide to apply to the art academy.


AT: Are there any person who has been significant in your breakthrough as an artist?

EGW: Rather than single out one individual, I would like to give thanks to all the people that I have met, studied with or under, fellow artists and all the rest that in some way has brought me to where I am today. None mentioned, none forgotten.


AT: What is your first approach to the work? How would you describe your practice?

EGW: My sculptures refer to design furniture and post-minimalist sculpture. They have the trappings of a piece of furniture, with familiar shapes and materials. They are stripped of any clear function in relation to your body, they are present in their own right. I make sculptures that are pretending to be furniture that are posing as sculpture. This staging is also in play when installing them in relation to my paintings. Together they create a scenography that evoke an interior, either domestic or a lobby-like situation. When painting, I have devised a method that consist of spray painting watercolors on to unprimed canvas. I wanted to keep the surface visible, including the canvas as an integral part of the painting. Spray-painting the watercolor on to the canvas in innumerable layers of alternating red, yellow and blue, blurry lines and fields of color emerge. The final result recalls ephemeral visual states, like something fading in or out of view or what happens with your vision after looking straight into the sun.

Exhibition overview “Light Fall Day Break”, 2019 Galleri Golsa, Oslo, Norway | photo credit: Galleri Golsa

AT: What do you aim to reach with your work?

EGW: As long as it resonates in some way, I am content. If you like the work because you find them esthetically pleasing, great! If you catch the art historical references, good for you!


AT: What are your favorite tools and materials for working?

EGW: In my paintings I mainly work with watercolors and canvas, so my first thought was too mention a type of reusable spray paint bottle that I like. Or maybe all the different types of canvas I have lying about in the studio, with their subtle differences?


AT: What do you feel while you work? Do you usually think about the final outcome beforehand?

EGW: Working with art can be very frustrating, and very rewarding. The creative process for me is an internal discussion, and a manifestation of those thoughts into materials that form an artistic expression. On the worst days, I don’t understand what I am trying to say to myself, and the materials that I try to manipulate are working against me. On the best days everything runs smoothly, and you feel like you can reshape the world around you. Those days are rare and exhilarating, almost like a high that I’m chasing. Most days fall somewhere in the middle of these two emotional states. I plan my sculptures out quite thoroughly, looking at references and drawing out shapes and patterns beforehand. The paintings also need some planning. The technique of spray-painting watercolor on unprimed canvas is purely additive, which means that every mistake is visible on the final result. I have a sketch or idea to begin with, but the plan is never set in stone, I’m always considering the next step.


AT: How do you understand that a work is finished?

EGW: The work is done when it looks and or feels right. It just one of those things, it either is or isn’t. When I think «maybe», and set paintings aside, it’s usually just a no that is hard to admit.

“Until The Light Takes Us IV”, watercolor on linen, 170×150 cm, 2018 | photo credit Galleri Golsa / Christian Tunge
“Until The Light Takes Us II”, watercolor on linen, 170×150 cm, 2018 | photo credit Galleri Golsa / Christian Tunge

AT: Where does the inspiration for the work come from?

EGW: Today I was reading an interesting article about quantum mechanics which made me inspired and eager to go to the studio. Walking under trees that are about to spring their leafs is another of those moments.


AT: Are there any artists who influenced your works? Why?

EGW: Franz West for playfulness, Agnes Martin for the contemplative, Tauba Auerbach for the systematical, Bridget Riley for the optical, Édouard Manet for composition.


AT: How important is the role of social media for you?

EGW: I scroll through social media every day, looking but seldom posting. During the pandemic it has become more important to me, as it keeps me feeling part of a larger community. In general social media has the potential to be a great platform for communication and discovery. Unfortunately all the major platforms are designed to keep you hooked, and keep you enthralled by drip feeding you serotonin at random times through likes. I love Instagram because it is an endless stream of pretty pictures, but I detest it for the exact same reason. For me, the platform encourages immediateness, the easy and convenient, the striking spectacle.

“Tear Apart The Ties That Bind I”, watercolor on linen, 155×155 cm, 2019 | photo credit Galleri Golsa
“Tear Apart The Ties That Bind III”, watercolor on linen, 155×155 cm, 2019 | photo credit Galleri Golsa

AT: As an artist, what is your point of view about the contemporary art system?

EGW: From my point of view, the system contains a lot of incredible and knowledgable people, both too little and too much money, and has a carbon footprint that is way too big.


AT: What do you find to be the most challenging or daunting thing about pursuing art? What is the most rewarding part of working as an artist?

EGW: The most daunting aspect about being an artist is also the most rewarding. You open yourself to judgement, the failures are on you, but so are the successes.


AT: What do you do besides art?

EGW: I follow my favorite football club, Rosenborg BK, and I usually spend half the week looking forwards to the next game, and the other half either content or pissed off depending on the result. I love to make food, and spend a lot of time in the kitchen preparing tasty meals for me and my girlfriend.


AT: What are your goals and expectations for the future?

EGW: The answer to this type of question is usually either «world domination», or something along the lines «keep doing what I do and stay heathy, also world peace». I choose both.

“Centerpiece (Taste of Desire) II”, chromed copper, lacing, 122 x 60 x 69 cm, 2019 | photo credit: Galleri Golsa
Erlend Grytbakk Wold (1986) is a Norwegian artist currently living and working in Oslo, Norway.

His paintings show the very moment where we don’t see clearly, the place between seeing and understanding, and ask us to think about what this experience entails. Painting with watercolor on unprimed linen, with red, yellow and blue - the primary colors that became emblematic for modernism and the Neoplasticism’s ideology for harmony and order - spray painted in innumerable alternate layers on the canvas. The method creates a surface that at first glance appears almost brownish, with lines and fields of foggy shadows. Inviting you to spend time in their company, colors and shapes emerge from or fading into the surface of the canvas.

The same attitude is apparent in his sculptural practice, where references to classic modernist furniture design and postminimalism meet. Though their size and shape might feel familiar, unlike a piece of furniture, which is created to support your body in some way, the sculptures turn you down. Not there for you, they are there for themselves, in their own right. In combination with the paintings they stage a scene, inhabiting an evoked interior of some swanky apartment or townhouse.