‘Night and Day’
12 SEPTEMBER -
Initially interested in cityscapes, Gro Thorsen began painting images of urban streets peopled with anonymous figures. Gradually she removed the buildings from her compositions, focussing completely on the figures. Rather than developing these figures into recognisable ‘personalities’, however, the artist concentrates on their anonymity. So quiet, purposeful people are seen congregating and moving across the picture surfaces, recorded in transit between the myriad nameless tasks that occupy a professional working day.
Each work starts as a video shot in a major urban location –
The figures in Gro Thorsen’s canvases inhabit a stark, lonely world with a palette of crisp, cold colour that emphasises the cool minimalism of their composition. Single figures, mysteriously illuminated from an unknown source, float over the flat background like ethereal modern spectres. To examine each figure closely in the hope of picking out defining characteristics is like wishing for more image enhancement on CCTV pictures: the more you try, the more they dissolve back into their anonymity. Built up with layers of gentle colour, these paintings respond subtly to light and context.
The ‘story board’ paintings are much more animated. Each work is composed of anything from twenty to a few hundred small, square images, each a fragment of a human figure, again glimpsed in passing. Night Studies recalls the images we subconsciously assimilate on a busy street, faces, bodies and limbs which coalesce and dissipate as the viewer’s eye moves over the constituent parts of the teeming whole. Unlike the canvases, these works present more recognisable detail to the viewer, and although still anonymous, the figures bear discernible features and objects that suggest a possible, but elusive, narrative.
Gro Thorsen’s paintings reflect the constant, ever-changing movement of the anonymous urban lives thronging every city. Her work gives these figures a sense of identity and purpose whilst creating busy, dynamic, and yet subtle, minimalist cityscapes.
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