Unni Askeland is the enfant terrible of the contemporary, norwegian art; shocking the politically correct establishment nor merly with her works, but also with her- sometimes bohemian, sometimes glamorous lifestyle. 

Unni Askeland was born in Bergen in 1962. After a year in the Art School in Kabelvåg, Askeland started at the Academy of Western Norway, Bergen (1983-84). In 1987 she entered the National Academy of Fine Arts where she graduated in 1992.

At the Academy's Graduate Exhibition Askeland showed Waiting for Picasso, a painting depicting herself in the company of artists such as Edvard Munch, Frida Kahlo, Lena Cronquist and Francesco Clemente. Apart from the obvious lack of modesty the picture could also be read as a manifesto of her artistic ideals. Staging her own persona in her own works and within the art historical tradition has ever since been a central element in Askeland's ouevre, as seen in the Munch Adoption Project. Furthermore, the artist here demonstrate an awareness of her belonging to the expressionist tradition. Expressionist ideals dealing with personal, often erotic, experience, are present in most of her works. The 1980s saw a revival of these ideas with the so-called Neo-Expressionist movement. For Askeland's visits to New York studios of Brice Marden and Francesco Clemente were crucial to this developement. 


With the Obituaries Project around 2000, the artist turned from figurative to abstract painting. The project dealt with death, and the paintings had the shape of coffins, painted in subtle blue and violet hues. After a few years of abstract expressionist paintings, the artist once again turned to figurative painting and to art historical ideals. Munch Adoptions (2004) was a series of paraphrases of Edvard Munchs famous "soul paintings" from the 1890s. 
Meddling with the nations master caused something of a scandal in the norwegian milieu. However, Askeland's pictures were not copies, but reinterpretations of Munch's themes, such as love, sex and agony. 


With the series Desire and Destruction and Big Blonde - the latter shown in New York in 2006 - Askeland depicted the icons of the 20th century, paraphrasing well-known portraits. Among femme fatals such as Marilyn Monroe, Mae West, and Courtny Love, one also found, once again, the artist herself. Both in theme and style, these projects were obvious reference to the Pop art of Andy Warhol, demonstrating the artists affinity to the American tradition. the technique was photo-based serigraphy. 

The exhibition A Lot of Water Under the Bridge (2008) featured images inspired by the famous movie Casablanca, among others love scenes with Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart. When a series from this was acquired by the National Museum of Art in Oslo, it stirred a new debate, not only about the artist, but also about the museum.

 

Written by Knut Ljøgodt

 

 

CV

Education:

1991-1992      The National Academy of Fine Arts, Master class, Oslo, Norway

1987-1991      The National Academy of Fine Arts, Oslo, Norway

1984-1985      The National Academy of Fine Arts, Bergen, Norway

1983-1984      Academy of Fine Arts, Kabelvåg, Norway

 

Solo exhibitions:

2018    jeg vil ikke dø, Galleri A, Oslo, Norway

2017    Selected works 2003-2017, Odda Litteratursymposium, Odda, Norway

2017    Selected works 2003-2017, Wrightegaarden, Langesund, Norway

2017    Selected works 2003-2017, Admini, Rjukan, Norway

2017    SNAPSHOTS, Galleri BKD, Tønsberg, Norway

2017    er jeg fin nok for deg, Galleri Fineart, Oslo, Norway

2014    Ski Kunstforening, Norway

2013    De ensomme – Munchadopsjoner, Galleri Fineart, Oslo, Norway

2013    Hamar kunstforening, Hamar, Norway

2013    Festivalkunstner Bodø Jazz Open, Galleri Bodøgaard, Norway

2013    Bohem og kunstner, Sunndal Kunstlag, Norway

2012    Memories & other narratives, Larvik Kunstforening, Larvik, Norway

2011    AU, w/Ari Behn, Galleri Fineart, Oslo, Norway

2011    BIG BIG BIG, Galleri Fineart, Oslo, Norway

2010    Close to greatness, Heiberg Cummings & T. Meeker Contemporary Art, NYC, USA

2009    Munchadopsjoner for Munchjubileet, Nicolines Hus, Kragerø, Norway

2009    Friezed II, Galleri Gathe, Bergen, Norway

2008    A lot of water under the bridge, Galleri Trafo, Asker, Norway

2008    Directors, actors, players and millionaires (m/Bjarne Melgaard), Arena Vestfossen, Norway

2008    Friezed, Heiberg Cummings & T. Meeker Contemporary Art, NYC, USA

2007    Selected works, Hå gamle prestegård, Rogaland, Norway

2006    Desire and Destruction, Blomqvist Kunsthandel, Oslo, Norway

2006    Big Blonde, Heiberg Cummings & T. Meeker Contemporary Art, NYC, USA

2006    Stills, 7011, Trondheim, Norway

2005    Munch Adoptions, Art Singel 100, Amsterdam, Netherlands

2004    Munch Adoptions, Blomqvist Kunsthandel, Oslo, Norway

2003    Munch Adoptions, Gothenburg, Sweden

2002    Love me only love me lonely, Bergen Kunstforening, Bergen, Norway

2001    No. 5, Bergen Kunstforening (w/Sverre K. Bjertnæs), Bergen, Norway

2001    Cover Up, Galleri Christian Dam, Oslo, Norway

1999    NAF, Oslo (w/Bjarne Melgaard), Norway

 

Procurements:

2011    Her Majesty Queen Sonja of Norway, private collection

2008    The Norwegian National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design

2008    The Municipality of Ullensaker, Norway

2011    Olavsgaard Hotel, Skedsmo, Norway

2005    Rogaland Art Museum, Norway

2004    The Art Museum of Northern Norway

2001    Nordea Corporate Art Collection, Norway

2001    Arts Council Norway

 

Group Exhibitions:

2017    Selected works, Hydrogenfabrikken, Fredrikstad, Norway

2017    Her Majesty Queen Sonja’s Jubilee Collection, The Royal Palace, Oslo, Norway

2017    Women in Art for Peace, International Peace Institute, Manama, Bahrain

2016    Intimitet, Mohn kunsthandel, Bergen, Norway

2015    Gud så deilig (w/Ari Behn), Galleri Svae, Gjøvik, Norway

2014    Påskeutstilling, Dr Holms Hotel, Geilo, Norway

2013    Møte. Edvard Munch – Unni Askeland, Gallery of Telemark, Norway

2012    LoveArt Expo, Monaco / Cap d’Ail

2012    After Munch, Art Eco Gallery, London, UK

2012    Bob Walkenhorst and Unni Askeland, Brekstad kulturfestival, Galleri Hans, Norway

2012    Tommy Olsson vs Unni Askeland – Battle 08, Pink Cube, Oslo, Norway

2012    Il- Loggia National Museum of Fine Arts, Valletta, Malta

2010    Sammen, Blaafarveværket, Modum, Norway

2009    Hamsunfantasier, Rådhusgalleriet, Oslo, Norway

2009    Hamsunfantasier, Trondheim Art Museum, Norway

2008    Clusters, Nordea Corporate Collection, Henie-Onstad Kunstsenter, Norway

2007    Norske Bilder, Oslo City Hall, Norway

2005    Reunion, Vestfossen, Norway

2005    18 at 27, Gallri 27, Oslo, Norway

2004    Sex and Flowers, HotRod, Oslo, Norway

2004    Pin-up, HotRod, Oslo, Norway

2004    Malernes tegninger, Blomqvist Kunsthandel, Oslo, Norway

2003    Trondheim Art Museum

2003    Tre unge normænd (w/Morten Viskum and Sverre K. Njertnæs), Galleri Christian Dam,

Copenhagen, Denmark

2001    Schpaa, Bergen Kunstforening, Norway

2001    Ideologia, Nordic biennale, Gothenburg, Sweden

2001    Norske Bilder, Oslo, Norway

2001    No. 5, Bergen Kunstforening, Norway

2000    Tendencies, Galleri JMS, Oslo, Norway

2000    Nekrologer (w/Morten Viskum and Sverre K. Bjertnæs), Drammen Museum, Norway

2000    Schpaa, Den frie Udstilling, Copenhagen, Denmark

1992    The refuseds exhibition, Oslo, Norway

1991    Gallery F15, Jeløya, Moss, Norway

1987    Østlandsutstillingen, Norway