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19.03.2014 INTERVIEW

Agnete Bertram: Artemis (Installation View), 2014. Foto: Theis Wendt.

Uncertainty is a bosom: Agnete Bertram at Ringsted Galleriet

Tanya Busse talks to friend and painter Agnete Bertram about her exhibition Artemis, currently up at Ringsted Galleriet.

AF Tanya Busse

RINGSTED GALLERIET
Bøllingsvej 15, 4100 Ringsted, W: rigall.dk
Artemis
Agnete Bertram
02.03.2014 - 23.03.2014

We met in Berlin in 2005. For the both of us, I think it was a formative period, in life in general and art specifically. It was also around that same period that you had spent time in Greece, perhaps for a residency. The first question I'd like to ask is what is the title of the show and where does it come from?
The title of the show is simply grabbed out of the lack of bosom in art and life in general. It is a beautiful form and life giving, so I thought it was a good place to start from. Also, I work with handmade invitations long before the pieces for the exhibition, and in order to do so I need to create a form for these small works to be sent out to people. Then we are back to the great shape of the bosom.

So essentially the invitation is kind of a departure point for the whole show? And why make handmade invitations when you could just make digital ones? 
The invitation is the departure point for the show, yes. I am exploring themes throughout my artistic practice, whether it be in the studio or not, but my final work is always made on site and therefore I need a starting point. I am finding that the invite is a nice gesture. The reason for the handmade invitation is that I want to address people directly. I wish for them to have an interest in my show, and if I ask them to take their time, I like them to see that I also gave them my time.

Last year when I was in the Caribbean I visited Cerro Las Tetas, which are twin peaked mountains in the south of Puerto Rico. Cerro Las Tetas basically translates to “hill of tits”, because they look like beautiful voluptuous melons. Locally they’re perceived with religious and ancestral veneration as a symbol of fertility and female power. To me they also oozed of sexuality. Can you elaborate on what the bosom means to you? And how does it relate to some of the other themes you’re exploring through your work?
Actually, I was about to rewrite and change my answer from bosom to tits. Hill of tits is a great description of my fascination. I work mainly with themes, materials and ideas that have a reference to nature. Mountains and tits are for me one in the same: they are captivating forms. I would like my work to ooze of sexuality, but I can't grasp that aspect yet, so there is still work to be done. The reason for my fascination with nature is because it hovers in a state of sameness yet still in constant movement; dying and being reborn. It boils down to one continuous transaction: that of constant change. I choose to work with all the wonderful and terrifying metamorphoses life and nature brings to us.

I have always admired the grit, the bravado, and the beauty of your work. There is a fearlessness in the way you embrace uncertainty and the forever changing (like nature itself). Earlier today I was re-reading old correspondences between us, and in one email you mentioned that you do not control anything during the painting process, and that it's quite interesting to be totally neutral. I want to know how controlled the freedom in your work is. When you lay down a stroke, do you see it more as a "willed act" or "chance effect"?
Thanks for the compliment. The spaces I present my paintings in essentially seep and translate into the works. All of the paintings for Artemis were made on-site, and as I see it, they are a perfect mix of willed act and chance effect. I sometimes wish to be strict in my method, but I change and shift and so does the way I lay down my strokes and the way I would like my work to look. Navigating within a given theme allows me the chance to come back and re-negotiate various interpretations of it. In retrospect, everything looks like a perfect straight line of development, but in the making I feel like a total rebel towards my work of later date. Therefore, I think the honest answer has to be a little bit of both.

In other words, while you're painting you're in a state of simultaneous I know; I don't know; I care; I don't give a shit; I rule the world and I'm scared?
In other words, it is more about not knowing anything but being open for what may come.

You made these paintings on site. How has the gallery affected your work, and vice versa, how has your work affected the space? Is it fair to say that you are a site-specific painter?
When I am exhibiting in a space I wish to have a dialogue with it. This helps me to build up an aura and perceptual state for people to meet the work in. I think a great deal of the reception of art is how it is presented. So my thought with working on site was to achieve this, but looking back I can tell that the space also gave the paintings a greater aura. The site-specific painter…sounds like a really bad biography. I might have to steal that title for future use!

Agnete Bertram: Artemis (Installation View), 2014. Foto: Theis Wendt.

Agnete Bertram: Artemis (Installation View), 2014. Foto: Theis Wendt.

Agnete Bertram: Artemis (Installation View), 2014. Foto: Theis Wendt.

Agnete Bertram: Artemis (Installation View), 2014. Foto: Theis Wendt.

Agnete Bertram: Artemis (Detail), 2014. Foto: Theis Wendt.

Agnete Bertram: Artemis (Detail), 2014. Foto: Theis Wendt.

Agnete Bertram: Artemis , 2014, 200 x 140 cm, Oil on linen and fabric framed. Foto: Theis Wendt.

Agnete Bertram: Artemis, 2014, 200 x 140 cm , Oil on linen and fabric framed. Foto: Theis Wendt.

Agnete Bertram: Artemis, 2014, 200 x 140 cm, Oil on linen and fabric framed. Foto: Theis Wendt.

Agnete Bertram: Artemis, 2014, 200 x 140 cm, Oil on linen and fabric framed. Foto: Theis Wendt.

Agnete Bertram: Artemis, 2014, 200 x 140 cm, Oil on linen and fabric framed. Foto: Theis Wendt.

Agnete Bertram: Artemis, 2014, 200 x 140 cm, Oil on linen and fabric framed. Foto: Theis Wendt.

Agnete Bertram: Artemis, 2014, 200 x 140 cm, Oil on linen and fabric framed. Foto: Theis Wendt.

Agnete Bertram: Artemis, 2014, 200 x 140 cm, Oil on linen and fabric framed. Foto: Theis Wendt.

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