Artists: Oda Iselin Sønderland and Laurence Veri
Exhibition title: Radiant Immensity
Venue: Projet Pangée, Montreal, Canada
Date: June 11 – July 24, 2020
Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artists and Projet Pangée, Montreal
Montreal, June 8, 2020 — Projet Pangée is delighted to present Radiant Immensity, an exhibition uniting the watercolour drawings of Oda Iselin Sønderland (Oslo, Norway) with the ceramic sculptures of Laurence Veri (Montreal, Canada). Centered around the notion of transition, these works reveal the symbolic resonance of metamorphosis. Natural phenomena have long been reconciled through mythology by the poetic imagination, and as a generator of poetry, mythology can also be understood as a generator of art. Both Sønderland and Veri contribute to this form of story-telling by creating new narratives sensitive to the time and age in which we live.
Malleable and resistant, clay has long participated in the development of cultures, through both utilitarian and ritualistic function. For Veri, the familiar plasticity of the material opens up the potential to generate narrative impulse, creating sculptures through a variety of marks and layers that are reminiscent of the imprints we find in nature. Deeply sensitive to the cycles of decay and rebirth, her sculptures record this process through both the construction and transformation of clay, becoming ecosystems of their own. Various marks adorn the surfaces of her sculptures—materials like sand and rust are delicately dusted over, left to bleed, pressed against or cutting through clay, creating shapes or figures that derive from vast swathes of myth and storytelling. This knowledge becomes a catalyst for the artist, opening a space for the viewer to insert their own construction into these renewed tales.
For Oda Iselin Sønderland, the folktale, too, can be considered a malleable material. Borrowing an array of references, from the Norwegian illustrated tales of Asbjørnsen and Moe (19th century) to the illustrations of the Russian painter Ivan Bilibin (from the Art Nouveau period), Sønderland weaves her own feminine experience of coming of age in the 21st century. While firmly rooted in a Scandinavian setting, Sønderland’s intricate and stylized watercolours seamlessly merge with the magical girl subgenre of Japanese manga and anime, which includes figures like Sailor Moon and Princess Tutu. With renewed versions of the ancient Greek Amazons, Sønderland skillfully leads us through graphic structures, deploying feelings of expansiveness, fear and beauty, where the protagonists, while sometimes cruel, captivate us by reflecting our own desires to escape reality.
Oda Iselin Sønderland (b. 1996, Oslo, Norway) received a Bachelor in Graphic Design and Illustration from the Oslo National Academy of Art in 2018. With her figurative watercolor paintings, Sønderland experiments with associations and complex narratives, often with references to fairytales and mythology. Her use of symbolic elements and archetypical characters alludes to experiences of identity, sexuality and puberty. Her varied works resemble ones of dreams and of the subconscious, creating a visual universe of her own psyche. In 2019, she had her first solo exhibition titled Magical Girl at Galleri Golsa (Oslo, Norway) and participated in Comic Tendencies, a group exhibition organized at Eve Leibe Gallery (London, UK).
Laurence Veri (b. 1993, Montreal, Canada) holds a BFA in Visual Arts from Concordia University. Her most recent pieces explore the natural world and its ideas of physicality, growth and decay through all imaginable permutations. Veri considers the ceramic process as an extension of her sensitivity, becoming a research tool to observe and mark our changing world. By the elusive nature of clay, its permanence and its flow, the artist questions our relationship to the materials that surround us. Her work has recently been presented during Épisode Laurier (2018), at Galerie Laroche / Joncas (2019), VENDU / SOLD benefit auction for Esse Magazine (2019), as well as at Guldagergaard at Skælskør in Denmark (2019). In 2021, she will exhibit pieces as part of the Manif d’art 10 – L a biennale de Québec as well as at AXENÉO7 in Gatineau (QC). Veri is currently the artist-in-residence at the Center des arts visuels in Montreal (QC).