The Norwegian artist Anne-Karin Furunes’s solo exhibition Gestures features a wide range of exhibits from works on canvas and aluminium to pieces occupying the gallery space and an installation employing light in the basement of Galerie Anhava. Furunes continues her work with archive materials and marginalised groups. The works in the exhibition are mainly based on old archived photographs of the inhabitants of the San Servolo psychiatric sanatorium in Venice and local working-class women.
In her new works, Furunes concentrates on gestures and the positions of the body. She is interested in minor gestures: how hands are clasped or try to stay still, how fingers press the fabric of clothes. In some of the pieces, she has cropped the face from the image, drawing attention to the positions of the body, tensions and folds of clothing. The body language recorded in the visual documentation of the San Servolo patients is particularly compelling, since we know that they did not pose voluntarily but were ordered to be photographed.
In terms of technique, these works are monochromatic acrylic paintings on canvas perforated by hand by the artist. Working on the pieces by hand is important for Furunes, who describes how slow, meditative time spent with the pieces guides her work. Light filtered through thousands of holes of different size creates photograph-like images changing with the surrounding space and ambient light and disappearing when the viewer comes closer. This changing nature of the works in space, their ‘breathing’ as the artist calls it, is linked to the problematic of depicting the past in Furunes’s thinking.
Also in the artist’s new aluminium works the metal surface reflects light and changes according to it. In sunlight it becomes almost mirror-like, making it difficult to perceive the image, while in even and indirect light the image becomes more clearly visible to the viewer. In May 2017, Furunes made a work consisting of almost thirty perforated sheets of aluminium, which was on display in the courtyard and adjacent park of the museum that is now on the island of San Servolo. The exhibition at Galerie Anhava includes a few portraits from Furunes’s period of working at San Servolo. The oval pieces in the exhibition space imitate the shape of the original photographs from the archives and, in Furunes’s thinking, also the human figure.
In recent years, Anne-Karin Furunes has held solo exhibitions at venues including the Ryan Lee Gallery in New York (2016), Galerie de Bellefeuille in Montreal (2016), Galeria Traghetto in Venice (2015), Millesgården in Stockholm (2014) and the Palazzo Fortuny in Venice (2014). Her recent group exhibitions include Porto Margera 100, Palazzo Ducale, Venice (2017–2018) and Proportio, Palazzo Fortuny, Venice (2015). There are works by her in in numerous public and private art collections, including The Museum of Arts and Design, New York; Museo Palazzo Fortuny, Venice; The Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki; The Saastamoinen Foundation; the Norwegian Museum of Contemporary Art and the National Swedish Public Art Council. Her works are also on show in the recently opened Mirror, Mirror group exhibition in the Paul Robeson Galleries at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey. Furunes has made several public artworks and she is currently completing a new work for the Norwegian Polar Institute in Tromsø.