Installation shot: Øystein Thorvaldsen / Henie Onstad Archive
Terje Nicolaisen (b. 1964) has been an active contributor to the Norwegian art scene since he completed his studies at the Art Academy in Bergen in 1997. As a rule, he employs simple materials and techniques such as watercolour, felt pens, paper, ink and pencils.
Nicolaisen is well known as a satirical commentator, a "one-man band", an imitator of the parameters of the art institution and the creator of his own distinctive form of institutional critique. His drawings can be regarded as direct and devious "one-liners" which often comment on an international or national situation in the field of art. They can also be perceived as poetic associations, quotes and references to other artists. Common for the works in this exhibition is how jokes, parodies and ludicrous comments provide opportunities for both highbrow and lowbrow aesthetics.
The exhibition is for the most part based on the series Selected Proposals 1995 - 2005, incorporating all the offshoots and parallel projects that are associated with these works made until today. It is the specific power relationships of the art scene in Norway one has to keep in mind when appraising his satirical and humoristic works. Nicolaisen's many projects thus contest artist-controlled power just as much as that of the more authoritarian museum. But he also question the role and consequence of city planning today as well as the influence of commercial interests for instance in the potentially infinite series of paintings titled Visa Paintings. These paintings were originally designed as a proposal for decorations for the hotel Oslo Plazas many guest rooms. Visa Paintings is a long series of paintings on paper, where the artistic gesture or mode of production mimes the way a credit card slides through an old fashioned payment terminal. Acrylic paint is added in three to four fields on a rectangular paper. A spatula is used to draw the paint over the sheet, leaving a long scenic strip composed of different colours. Visa Paintings can also be seen as a humorous comment to fetishism of the artistic work, and as a reference to the large, abstract American painting as it occurred in the 50's