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Interview with visual artist Morten Holmefjord

Published March 2019


You are probably best known for your drawings. Can you tell us a little about how you work with them?

I use a lot of sketchbooks and draw small faces, almost on autopilot, page up and page down. Through this process I can figure out what I find to be the most interesting and then decide which ones I want to draw in a larger format.


Could you say something about the background for your choice of motif?

I like old faces. Wrinkles and lines. An old face says something about how it's been "used". Like the inside of a well-worn glove. It is, in one way, standard portraits that I make. But at the same time, my drawings are caricatures, they are anatomically and technically incorrect and exaggerated, distorted. A contradiction.


You do a wide range of motifs, but these portraits of grumpy, old people seem to be consistent in your later production, would you say that you are fond of human beings?

I am very fond of human kind. Even though we behave like vermin. August Strindberg once wrote "Human beings are to be pitied" and there is something in that saying that I find truthful.


What are you working with at the moment?

Fridtjov Urdal and I have a book project where I create portraits for which he makes biographical texts. Texts and drawings go back and forth. Apart from this, I draw as much as I can and the work goes in many different directions. 

Do you work with other medias than drawing?

Mostly writing. Fiction and historical. Among other things I have written a documentary text about the local youth club, a house that burned down a night in May, 1977. I have interviewed firefighters, neighbors and also people who watched it happen from a distance. It's weird how people remember some details differently, while other details can be remembered just the same by many - and yet those very details might be the ones that turn out to be false. I find the selective memory both of individuals and of communities to be fascinating.


Are you concerned with power structures and politics?

I am interested in symbols that one associates with authority. This is something I work with constantly, even though I tend to focus on sour faces just at the moment. But in general, it is interesting to see who gets to be the premise suppliers in the social debate - who is allowed to define what is good and bad. Our time is both highly moralistic and yet deeply immersed in the ego. The wisest thing I heard last week was Stephen Fry who said: "I believe the greatest human failing is to prefer be right - than to be effective". That quote sums up much of the public conversation.

Morten Holmefjord b. 1975 has has his education from Bergen College of Art (now part of UiB), department of Fine Art.
Performance-project 2003-2005 with following stay in Uruguay 2006-2008. Journalist 2008-2015.

Drawings published with permission of the artist. All drawings displayed: Yet without a title ©️ Morten Holmefjord. 

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