Maibritt Ulvedal Bjelke
There is a kind of contemporary poetry that does not describe any certain time or any certain place, event or person. It refrains in one way or another from referring to a familiar world consisting of named elements. In fact, this kind of poetry is often more compact in its actual poetics, more condensed in its fundamental implements and means. In other words, the words are no longer servants for anyone or anything else. They have become their own lord and master. At the same time, it cannot be claimed that a person who creates such a poem no longer has a motive. The motive has merely come to be the words themselves, their rhythms, their intonations, their pauses and their sounds. The poems contain nothing that lies beyond themselves. On the other hand, what they contain and the sense of wholeness the words engender leaves no void.
The same thing can be said about Maibritt Ulvedal Bjelke’s works: these are paintings that have taken an initial stance lying outside all representative obligations that a painting is generally supposed to honor. They do not represent anything, yet they contain their own representations – and their own considerations.
It would seem obvious to call them French, seeing that the artist has been living and working in France for more than twenty years. Moreover, Maibritt Ulvedal Bjelke was also educated in Paris, at the École Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts, under the tutelage of Pierre Matthey, Jan Voss and Claude Viallat.
However, that’s not the most relevant issue here, because what her pictures are concerned with possesses no distinct nationality. Ulvedal Bjelke’s work is a kind of painting whose essential mission explores painting’s very own language. If it can be said that working with color and surface is generally subjected to an intention on the part of the artist which is determined by external circumstances and relations, this situation differs. Here, the artist’s objective has specifically to do with painting, with painting this very stroke and then adding other strokes to the first, so that what arises is a whole family of strokes which communicate reciprocally without becoming expressions for anything other than the particular layers of color and the specific gesture that has brought them into being. In this way, the painting gradually comes to be a portrait of its own genesis. Such a process inevitably contains hesitation, reflection and many provisional attempts before the assault. However, the painting registers only that which is done and which succeeds because it has been done well.
Even the most abstract artists do not paint without a purpose. And the purpose here is to secure and propagate the energy and dynamic movement by means of which the color is applied to the surface as well as the impression of deepening absorption, but also of renunciation that this process involves.
The stroke and the color do not elicit any associations beyond their own resolve: to bring life to a surface.
The means have become the goal.
Translated from Danish by Dan A. Marmorstein
Peter Michael Hornung
Art Historian and Critic