Takes the Art World with Abstract Paintings
MARIT GERALDINE BOSTAD
By Randi Nørstebø / Photo: Erik Dahl/Norway Fjord Guide
- It's surreal, Marit Geraldine Bostad exclaims. - It all has happened so fast! She has just landed after eventful days in New York. As the only Norwegian exhibitor at the United States launch of The Other Art Fair, her paintings could be admired by curators, gallerists and art-enthusiastic New Yorkers. All of her paintings remained in the metropolis. She brings contacts and contracts home that will send her abstract and expressive art even further into the world. She has found out where she wants to be.
A real job
- My parents wanted me to become something proper, Marit Geraldine laughs.
They both had an artist and musician background, and wanted the girl to work with something predictable and safe. The road went to the University of Oslo and psychology studies. It took a year and a half before she realized it was completely wrong. She needed to do something more creative.
The next stage was Westerdals Oslo School of Arts, Communication and Technology and a bachelor’s degree in Art Direction. Before she left with a job already secured, she had topped her studies with a marketing communications course. Now busy years in leading advertising agencies in the capital lay ahead. But the work was digital. There was always a screen between her and the people she communicated with. And; It was a fussy life with sky-high expectations and tough deadlines.
Marit Bostad contributed to prestigious campaigns and brought home prices and recognition. Sure, it was exciting.
“But life was just work. There were always deadlines. Then, when the children came ... It was finally enough. I like to think that I quit when I was at the top, says Bostad, who has never looked back. - I've always had a gut feeling about what I have to do, she says.
Now, in a short period of time, there would be many changes for Marit and her loved ones.
The family moved to Horten in 2009. The hometown she left at the age of 18. They bought a house with a garden with only a short distance to the school and kindergarten for the two children. - Oslo was chaotic. In Horten living became very easy. Everything is just around the corner. We simply got more time, Marit Bostad says and serves work coffee in the studio.
- I really thought I'd miss the capital," she says. Now she enjoys herself the most in her work pants. - These are some of the most precious things I own," she says, pointing down a pair of jogging pants stiff with paint. They must have been grey once. - Now they are covered with years of paint. - The pants are like an armor, the artist smiles.
Now or never
Back in 2015, an opportunity presented itself. The Karljohansvern Fortress in Horten with its historic brick buildings had a room available. An opportunity that Marit seized with both hands. Geraldine Gallery was a fact. Bostad has good contacts and draws big names to Horten, exhibits art by Pushwagner and Munch, and appears in the local newspapers all the time. She is certainly not afraid to work:
- During the first period I worked 30% with my own things. And 100% with the gallery! Ever since I started working after graduating Westerdals, I have painted in the evenings and the nights when I've been free, she says. Soon there was a desire to not only work behind the scenes. She decided to take a leap:
- I realized that if I didn’t do my own thing soon, I must be stupid! My paintings got more and more attention in London and at Saatchi Art.
But Marit Geraldine Bostad does not have a name as an artist in Norway. And no artistic background. It's not easy to fit in. One evening when she received yet another rejection, this time from the exhibition Østlandsutstillingen, she thought to herself: "What's up with Norway?
She sent an application to The Other Art Fair in London, which she accidentally came across when looking at some galleries on Instagram. She quickly forgot about the whole thing. Her surpise was therefore immense when the Art Committee of the London exhibition congratulated her on being accepted at the exhibition.
- THEN my big adventure began!
- I had no idea about what lay ahead. But I soon realized that this is the place for anyone who deals in art. Not to mention the people of London. They do not ski on weekends. They go to galleries! I think Londoners have gone to exhibitions since they were three years old.
There are queues. And tens of thousands of visitors. Marit sells half of her paintings and is being noticed by Saatchi Art's chief curator, Rebecca Wilson, who recommends artists on the world's largest online gallery. The snowball has begun to roll. From now on, Marit Geraldine Bostad is being presented on a regular basis in Saatchi Arts' curations and features, which is noticeable.
Life was turned upside down. From presenting other people's art, Marit Geraldine now sees her art traveling around the world. At the last The Other Art Fair in London there are 120 artists from all over the world. Saatchi Art picks out four artists that they recommend in particular. One of them is the painter from the abandoned naval base in Horten. - I got an unparralelled hitch at my stand. It was completely sick. The pleasure of being elevated like this can hardly be described in words, she says gratefully.
Marit Bostad has got collectors in London and curators or art advisors who still find new projects for her art.
- I do nothing here at home besides painting and producing. My art really lives on its own around the world. The pictures have been in Milan, Madrid, Edinburgh and Singapore. And then, finally, an e-mail arrives from Fineart in Oslo. They have noticed her, and wonder if she would be interested in a collaboration with them. The summer exhibition at Tjuvholmen is the first project. There she puts out some big, brand new works.
Communicating what's worth bringing along
The paintings are essentially abstract. And expressionist.
- I like people to see what they want, and to create their own meetings in my paintings. I do not want to force any interpretation on anyone, unless they want me to. - When painting I go with what's worth going with. It can be communication between people or just things that I find exciting. I have found that I can create special experiences. Like in a computer. Then I can put it on layer by layer. As in Photoshop! For example, there was once a conversation between a couple. They did not say much, but I absorbed a lot anyway, which I think was so fascinating. Then I interpreted it in color, expression and motion.
- Or it may, for example, be a travel memory that I translate into the canvas. One must deliberately open up some drawers and let oneself be influenced. The abstract has such a long life. A begun story that can be continued by someone else, the artist explains.
Without a background, it may be easier to break rules. Marit Bostad believes that in her case her background gives her an advantage; - I do notice that I don't see anything that is quite like mine out there. I stand out. That was what I heard when I was in London, too - that I have a very personal expression. Without art school I haven't had to relate to forms and written rules. Nor have I learnt how different techniques must and should be performed. I have had the opportunity to create my own approach to the white canvas. Scary, but also very liberating.
The sink in the studio is full of forks, plastic objects and scrapers that have been used to get exactly the surface she wants. The brushes often stay where they are. They are some of the “tools” that make her works unique, and she is always looking for the perfect tool: - Once I had to sift through my rubbish to save a perfect ice cream scoop of plastic!
Free and awful
She continues; - As a rule, my paintings consist of three layers. That's the way it has become after thousands of hours of trial and error. I like to let the layers meet, and always seek to remove the superfluous. Everything must be there because each part returns something. The pursuit of some kind of essence when the layers are balanced. And when the balance is there, it must be out of balance, to move on. I live in a quest for something I never quite know what is, and is controlled by emotions and impulses. It is absolutely and fantastically free and rewarding, but can also be absolutely awful. You must like your own loneliness, your own voice. And find safety in yourself, trust your choices. On a bad day, the doubt is scary. How did I do this again? And why? But then the meetings with people come, where I get the feeling that a painting can give and mean so much.
The story continues
There is no doubt that the pictures hit home. - It is something that can never be explained entirely. Some will have an experience that makes them unable to go out again. Then they have seen something that noone else has seen. It makes all the difference. They continue their story so I will not destroy it. People have started to cry when they see a picture. But fortunately that does not happen every day, Marit Geraldine Bostad smiles.
Marit Geraldine Bostad (b. 1976)
City of Residence: Horten, Norway
Educated as Art Director at The next stage was Westerdals Oslo School of Arts, Communication and Technology
Studies in Marketing Communications på BI - Norwegian Business School og in Psychology at the University of Oslo
Worked as Art Director at 4 Oslo-based Advertising Agencies until 2009
Opened Geraldine Gallery in 2012
Has been focusing on her own art since 2015
Fineart Summer Exhibition, Tjuvholmen Oslo, 22. juni – 6. juli 2017
The Other Art Fair, London, 5–8 October, 2017
Lions Exhibition at Slottsfjellsmuseet, Tønsberg 11–12 November, 2017 (where she is invited as Artist of the Year).