On the occasion of the new edition of Enter Art Fair in Copenhagen, we asked Andrea Scholze, one of the artists on show, 10 questions regarding her work, career, inspirations, and the story behind her new artworks exhibited at Enter.
Andrea Scholze (b. 1988, Oslo) is educated at the Oslo National Academy of the Arts (BFA, 2011, MFA, 2016).
Scholze works sculpturally and on installation pieces, primarily using ceramics. Her works are roughly modelled with an expressive, often bleak look. She creates scenographic installations of often dystopian landscapes where her individual sculptures of human-like species often looking more like trolls, golems or yetis, channel emotions and tell stories. She is interested in how both animals and humas exist together in today’s society and themes such as loneliness, existentialism and belonging are apparent in many of her sculptures.
Scholze’s talent has been recognized by the Norwegian establishment and her work has been acquired by the KODE museums in Bergen, the National Museum of Decorative Arts and Design in Trondheim, The Equinor Art Programme and KORO (Art in Public, Norway).
Here are her words.
QB: Do you remember your very first approach to art? What fascinated you about it?
AS: I can't remember a specific moment that was my first encounter with art, as I've been creating things for as long as I can remember, actively drawing since I was very young. I remember for instance, crafting a salad utensil set for my parents, with two frogs sunbathing in their swimming trunks on the handles. Highly impractical as they were large, chunky frogs, so it didn’t turn out to be something usable. Not too far from what I'm making now, I realise. They were made in polymer clay and ended up getting charred in the oven, I remember.
QB: What has influenced you the most in your career? How has this changed over time?
AS: In the beginning, I worked very meticulously with animals and was focused on anatomy and naturalism. Thematically, I was engaged in animal welfare and humanity’s destructiveness, and I created works about everything from endangered species to artworks addressing the use of palm oil. For a period, I was also very much inspired by film and especially the dystopian themes of science fiction, which guided me more towards existential matters. As the process went on, I dared to work with a rougher expression and moved away from the beautiful and perfect. I worked on a larger scale, and the pieces became more expressive in their representation. The figures got more human traits and it evolved to revolve more around inner emotional life, alienation through beings that didn’t belong among humans.
QB: How would you describe your own artistic expression?
AS: Rough, imperfect, expressive, sensitive and wondering.
QB: From idea to finished artwork, how do you create your pieces? Do you follow a specific process or “ritual”?
AS: It varies whether I have a rough sketch beforehand or not. Sometimes I've envisioned a position or mood in advance, while other times I start completely whiteout a plan. The smallest sculptures are massive, otherwise I work with the coiling technique (slightly more elegant than the sausage technique in Norwegian). This means you roll sausages in clay, which you then use to build up the sculpture one sausage at a time. These sausages are squeezed together as you build upwards. I rarely use tools, only my hands. I start with the feet and build upwards, finishing with the head where there’s a large open hole until it’s closed again. If I have a starting point, I let it change along the way if I feel it's right. I prefer to work very quickly and impulsively, on the verge of collapsing the sculptures sometimes, because the clay is so heavy when it's wet. The facial expression is one of the last things, and here a small fingerprint can change the entire feel of the sculpture. I try to be fearless and work with the energy directly into the sculpture.
QB: You work primarily with three-dimensional sculptures. How do you experience working with three-dimensional pieces versus two-dimensional ones?
AS: I experience a big difference. I used to paint a lot before, and it's liberating with sculpture, which doesn’t have a fixed background. The three-dimensional changes enormously with placement and environment, and I find that so exciting! Not to mention how I feel I can work with a different intensity and much more physically directly through my hands. I actively use my body when working with clay. I enjoy working on multiple sculptures simultaneously, and with the larger sculptures, I almost jump between them, working quickly from one to the other when I'm deeply engaged in the process.
QB: Several of your sculptures resemble animals- like figures or underground beings. Is there a connection between the choice to use a natural material like clay and the representation of nature-related themes in your artistic practice?
AS: The expression has evolved with the material, as have the figures through the organic and receptive quality of clay. I worked with animals when I painted, and gradually, they have become more and more their own beings in the clay.
QB: Where do your creations come from, and how do you title them? Can they be related to your own personal experiences, or to a more general perception of the society around us?
AS: I usually just refer to them as beings/creatures. They have evolved from more ape-like figures I created earlier to now being something more humanoid, but not entirely human, resembling things like trolls, yetis, Tove Jansson's Hufsa, Nøkken and similar entities. They come from the inner and very personal, but also from external influences through the experience of living in a society like ours in our time, and a life where much time is spent in the city’s unnatural surroundings. The inner and the outer are strongly interconnected, after all.
QB: Can you tell us a bit about the artworks by you on view at Enter Art Fair 2023?
AS: These are the creatures mentioned above, which are not quite human, but human. They are in different moods, often of the more melancholic kind, but not always. Several small ones and one large one. They are roughly glazed and made in coarse earthenware clay fired at 1240 degrees centigrade. I mix most of the glazes myself, much like the modelling, very emotional and rough.
The titles of the works have become more important to me over the years, and although the expression can be read in many ways and I hope to reflect more people, I like how a title can help to reinforce an expression, in the same way as the glazes.
QB: What do you think the role of an artist is in today’s society?
AS: Big question. Short answer: contribute with a different view of the world, and communicate in a completely different way than words can, a soulful dialogue.
QB: Final question: If you were to have dinner with five other artists, alive or not, who would you choose?
AS: There are many I could have mentioned, Munch and so on, or perhaps an ordinary hieroglyphic painter from ancient Egypt who could unravel some of the mysteries of the past, but I don't want to pick five, I think it's nice to have dinner with people who are good people, famous or not ☺