About the artist : http://kunsthistorie.com/fagwiki/Torild_Stray

Urban Vision, Project 2016 with Tippetue Architects http://tippetue.no/urban-vision/

Kunstforum,Show curated by Rasmus Hungnes og Josefine Lyche, Oslo 2016 : http://kunstforum.as/2016/05/stjernebilder/

Art& Culture ,Oslo  2014  http://www.artandculture.no/2014/11/13/house-of-bergen-apning-av-bergens-kreative-ambassade-i-oslo/torild-stray/

http://houseofbergen.no/torild-stray-presentasjon/  http://kreativtforum.no/artikler/nyheter/2014/11/apner-bergens-ambassade-i-hovedstaden

Guernica,magazin of globalt Arts & Politics,New York  2012  https://www.guernicamag.com/those-green-huldra/

Art Symposium 2015  http://www.austevollingen.no/kunstsymposium

Art participation : “Nasjonalgalleriet,” NRK1 / Norwegian National Broadcasting, 22nd of September 2014 http://www.gabrielkvendseth.com/index.php?/work/the-destructor/

BA Newspaper, 2013 One Person Show https://www.ba.no/puls/vil-stille-ut-world-trade-center-kunst/s/1-41-6532658

Xoxo Sweden, New York Show : http://www.xoxosweden.com/news/art/1895

Review Bergens Tidende,Norway, 2006 Paintings with depth and soulful imagery by Øystein Hauge http://www.bt.no/kultur/Melankolsk-stemningsromantikk-136246b.html

Dagbladet,Norway 2001 Interview http://www.dagbladet.no/kultur/2001/09/13/281521.html

Interview ( In Norwegian only):: http://visp.no/-/page/show/18839_maanedens-kunstner-oktober-2013-torild-stray?ref=checkpoint

Dagbladet Review : http://www.dagbladet.no/kultur/2001/10/02/285278.html 

NY Show curated by T Stray, 2011  : https://www.artslant.com/ny/events/show/132775-the-sweetest-thing & http://www.nordstjernan.com/news/east/2843/

Brooklyn Show,2007 http://soapboxgallery.org/torild-stray-youll-end-up-alone-like-an-animal/

Teaching / Drawing Marathon Bergen,article in daily Newspaper: http://www.bt.no/nyheter/lokalt/Fra-New-York-med-tegnemaraton-64468b.html

Artcritical,David Cohen NY Review by Jock Ireland 2001 http://www.artcritical.com/blurbs/JIStray.htm

New York Times  in the WTC Studios: http://www.nytimes.com/1998/04/30/nyregion/artist-s-garret-85th-floor-port-authority-finds-room-for-painters-trade-center-s.html

“Torild Stray, a Norwegian painter, said the tall tower, which sways in a hard wind, took some getting used to. ”I’d say, ‘I only had two glasses of wine at dinner, so why am I rolling over?’ ” said Ms. Stray, who wore a smock and pants flecked with paint, and, like the other artists and visitors on the 85th-floor tour, was bathed in the honey-colored late-afternoon light that gushed through the windows, splashing across the bare, spattered floors and naked, unfinished ceilings.”


Interview for the catalog by Oliver Karlin with Torild Stray, June 24th, 2010, Brooklyn, NY

Q: Where do you locate yourself on the spectrum of representation and abstraction?

I don’t believe in the distinction. The way I see painting is that
if it really works it works on both levels at the same time. It is something very concrete and has a presence and an authenticity to it and at the same time it works in an abstract sort of way. Even a head in a so-called representational painting, if the painting is really profound and really works, works in an abstract way.

If we go all the way back to the caves, the image was clear representation, and had a magic purpose. It wasn’t art but it was image making. It was representation of something, of an energy. That is something I’m interested in. Painting represents something other than just my will.

Q: How important is a sense of spatial depth in your paintings? How do you achieve it?

Spatial depth is completely crucial. Without it, there isn’t space for the spirit; for the viewer to go and answer the painting. Flat painting is a different way of thinking about painting than how
I think about it.

I don’t construct space based on previous ideas like central perspective or other ideas like that. I achieve it through intuition and of course composition. Also color value, size, the negative spaces, the positive spaces, the placements etc. A lot of that

is achieved through drawing. Ultimately you draw with the brush. Drawing is totally key to achieving spacial depth and also for understanding it. Painting is completely an abstract language; drawing is an intuitive and also knowledge based tool into painting.

When I answered that I tried to break it up. But when you paint it is all at the same time. Painting is as complex, as you make it. You just engage and engage and engage. Open up the door.

Q: Which artists inform your work in its representational aspects? In its abstract aspects?

I always go to life more than I go to other artists. I am informed by life,and nature, and light and the city, what I eat, my friends, moments, anything I see and read and what is going on in the world. But of course, I was educated and studied a lot of artists. Who is informing me changes all the time. If I’m working on

a certain palette or a certain thing in a painting I will go and source it out.

In terms of representational aspects, Rembrandt’s way of making skin. Or Velázquez too. I’m definitely interested in skin. Then you have still-life painters like Zurbarán. They inform me in the way they are meaty and real. They are really celebrating the paint.

The abstract aspects can also be Piero della Francesca. He
was a mathematician, which I think is in great art. I am definitely influenced by Rothko, as the post-contemporary artist that I am. I don’t always go to Rothko, I have problems with him. There’s Jackson Pollock, too. What I like about him is that he is so direct, not careful, not holding back.

I try to take what I need from them. I don’t apply certain systems but they come through in their own way. It comes out more
and more as I mature as an artist or as a person. I am more and more conscious about everything as I grow older and get more experience as a painter. That is an abstract aspect too.

Q: In what ways are the figures in your paintings concrete

When I start a painting I have a dialog with the painting. Sometimes I have stronger ideas about a painting and sometimes I just engage. The figures start appearing in an abstract way. They have to be moved around until they sit right. And then, I also have to come in, almost like a butcher in a way, to get rid of that and move that. It takes a while to establish them. Then it is almost like a process of getting to know them. They go from being marks – lines and dots – to an entity in a specific place.

Q: In what ways are the figures in your paintings concrete?

It is sometimes really hard to see it as it happens. To the viewer and to me, they are clarifying themselves as you see the paintings over and over. I step away and I see it later. What might not even seem a figure in first glance becomes a figure on further viewing depending on the light, the psychological state of the viewer, etc..

Q: Are the figures specific?

A lot of them become specific.Some remain a little unspecific, a little ambivalent. Sometimes it can be a figure I know from another painting. ‘Oh you are here again.’ Sometimes I don’t know. And then crisis comes in. They do acquire and require

a specificity. They want to be clarified. Where are they and what are they doing? What state are they in psychologically? Emotionally? What are they, through their body language, expressing? That’s frustrating.

They almost have multiple functions. They are telling a story and they are abstract elements. Sometimes I learn after the fact what the content of the painting really is. There are layers of meaning and layers of a story. I don’t claim that I know all the stories. I don’t have a specific thing I want people to see.
I want them to try and look for things and be open. Sometimes other people see and make connections I didn’t even make. That fits with me as a painter. That’s a very interesting dialog that goes on that helps me to develop as a painter. That is one of the reasons it’s great to have an exhibition.

Q: What position does the viewer have to the figures?

The viewer is key. One thing I encourage when one looks at paintings, any paintings, is that you engage in it physically. Definitely go closer. Definitely go back again. Interact with
the painting. I would go so far as to say the figures can help the viewer enter the painting. The figure aspect of the paintings is the very human aspect of the paintings. It’s natural to me

to work with figures. It’s a natural extension of who I am as
a painter. But of course, it’s not pure representation, and so people get confused and provoked. It is a painting and it’s definitely not telling you the whole story like a newspaper article. That’s where the viewer comes in and engages. You have to be open as a viewer, then they can come alive. That’s where the big word Art comes: it opens another world.

Q: What is the role of space in your painting?

Painting can have healing qualities. It can express something that words, music, dance, cannot express. It has an immediacy, a very authentic presence, and at the same time can be meditative and very slow; can survive for centuries and nurture us with something we need. The space, in that context is where the painting comes alive. Space is sort of holy too.

What is space? Is it a complete spiritual idea? Space is also a parameter. This is my world. It becomes the entity that I inhabit. Sometimes you can’t breathe in the paintings because they are so rich, so dense. Other times it’s more forgiving. It’s not like I’m always trying to make it a pleasant space, or a comfortable space.

Q: Do you respond to paintings of religious scenes?

Not because they are religious, but because they are great paintings expressing emotional human aspects. The ones in the year one thousand, those are amazing. I’m thinking of the Crucifixions. Not just in painting, but in wood. The Crucifixions that are so full of expression throughout the European history that I grew up with. As a younger painter I tried to tackle the Crucifixion because that was always depicted by other painters I admired.

The scene for me, of all the religious scenes I grew up with, is the Pieta.There is something about the way the body is depicted. The deadness of the body and then he is resurrected, if you go by the story. That’s been done in amazing ways. The hand – I’ve always been fascinated by hands – they way they express being alive. My paintings are about being alive, the human condition.

Q: How do you feel about your paintings being described as having a spiritual space?

I’d be flattered. It doesn’t attach it to religion, I hope. Spirit?
I would honor that, if my paintings were described that way.
It’s a crucial aspect, a dimension of being alive. We’re not just meat and blood, we’re something else too. I’d be flattered also, because that’s not something you can will. You can’t will a pace to be spiritual. I’m just a little painter. I’m the in-between guy.

Q: Do you connect your paintings to Norway?

I definitely have a lot of my strength as a painter, from Norway. From Scandinavia. From the Nordic light. There’s nothing like it. The white and blue snow with the pink sky. The open vidde. The fjords, of course. The curves in nature. The fruit trees in the summer light. I could elaborate forever. And the troll stories, everything we grew up with, all the myths that are part of our whole being. You can physically see it. You can see things transform in nature. I go back to nature. I grew up in Norway’s second biggest city and nature is much closer there than it is in New York City. The blues, the whole palette, is from there. But I had to be away from it to really work it out.

Q: What does it mean for you to have a show in Norway?

It’s meaningful for me to have a show in Norway. It’s in the context where I’m from. With my people, so to speak. We have some of the same references and we have a connection. I can’t take that away, as much as I live somewhere else. I’m grateful that I can go back there and share, have this dialog with Norwegians and with Norway.

Q: To what extent are you a Norwegian painter? A New York painter? An international painter?

I’m a Norwegian painter. It’s apparent in my work that I am Norwegian, I think. What does that mean to be a Norwegian painter? I don’t know if Norwegian painters would even use that term. Am I a New York painter? I definitely am. I’ve been here so long; I’m referred to as a New York painter. If I have
to choose, I’m an international painter; independent of country. I’m all three.

There was something about taking myself out of Norway – out of all the beauty, all the great qualities that Scandinavia has – to this place that is such a contrast: every religion, every food, every painting. It has brought something out of me that couldn’t be released in the context at home. The city always stretches your idea of beauty and is a great contrast to Norway.

In the 1850s, the Norwegian artists go to Paris, they paint fjords and dramatic landscapes, and so they became more Norwegian than they were. They became national romantics. I’m not saying I am that, but I think I am now more able to access some of my Nordic essence.

What would make me a Norwegian painter, if there is such a term? The stories and the content in the paintings is definitely connecting with my roots more and more as I mature and take risks as a contemporary painter. Not as a nationality – I wish we had another word – but the sagas, the stories, the clarity, the goddesses, everything that was there. They had something for us that is coming through in my paintings that we can learn from.

Oliver Karlin is an independent writer based in New York.


 Article in Norwegian News papaer Bergen Tidene , in conjunction with an exhibition in Norway 2006 :

BT intervju in Brooklyn:

Hjem til røttene

I atelieret i en sliten bygård , et ekte artist loft som Stray har bygget  i New York legger bergenskunstneren Torild Stray siste hånd på verkene som skal vises ved Galleri Langegården på Fjøsanger i Bergen.

OLE M. ORSET (tekst og foto)

Brooklyn, New York

Utstillingen åpner ti år etter at hun hadde sin debut i Norge. Kunstnerambisjonene fikk næring i Tegne— og maleverkstedet på Verftet. Nå bor og jobber hun i bydelen Brooklyn i New York. Det er her at hun fester pigmentene på store, hvite lerret slik at de blir fargesterke malerier.

– Det å bo og arbeide her er inspirerende, både profesjonelt og personlig. Livet i Brooklyn er en fargerik smeltedigel med mye god energi, sier Stray.

Men røttene i Bergen og Norge er likevel sterke.

– Kunsten er internasjonal, men jeg tror likevel at vi alle tar med oss noe eget fra vår bakgrunn. Her i New York kommer det urnorske i meg frem på en ny måte, i en ny autentisk form, sier Torild Stray.

Hun jobber i Norge om våren eller sommeren. Her føler hun at hun fornyer seg og henter blant annet materialet som hun bygger videre på i atelieret i Brooklyn.

– Jeg kunne ikke vært den jeg er i dag uten Bergen og New York, billedkunstneren.

– Bruke mulighetene

Torild Stray kom til New York som student i 1990 og har hatt atelieret i Brooklyn siden midten av nittitallet. De siste 10 årene har hun jobbet som profesjonell kunstner. Økonomisk er det en utfordring. Ved siden av malingen og enkelte oppdrag gir hun enkelte kunstnere privatundervisning i tegning og maleri.

– Det handler om å bruke de mulighetene som finnes, man må være åpen for nye løsninger til enhver tid. Her må du selv skape det du vil bygge opp; du får ikke noe gratis. Det er også skjedd en endring her borte, det er mer snakk om penger og det er dyrere å bo her. Som kunstner er det derfor viktig at du er deg selv, enten du er i New York eller i Bergen, sier Torild Stray.

Den 20. mai åpner utstillingen «Transformasjoner» i Langegården, en utstilling som viser et utvalg malerier fra 1998–2006. I samarbeid med arkitekten Morten Ramm har hun også tatt tak i ute- og innearealene på Langegården.

– Utearealet vil bli mer en kontrast til selve utstillingen, sier Stray som har fått tak i over 500 par sko til installasjonen. Hun planlegger også å la lydbilder fra New York smelte sammen med dem hun hører i Bergen. Men fokus blir på de rundt 30 bildene som skal stilles ut.

– Det er alltid en utfordring og samtidig sterkt å se bildene på en ny måte i nye rom. Da kan det og vise seg om de «overlever».

– Jeg er maler!

Selv om hun jobber litt med installasjoner, video og noen skulpturer i leire og såkalte found objects, er det maleriet som er uttrykksformen.

– Noen vil hevde at maleriet er dødt. Det er bare tull. Maleriet gir rom for nye tolkninger. Se på alle mulighetene, sier Torild Stray og gestikulerer. – Du kan gjøre bildet så kompleks som du bare vil. Det er kunstneren som er medium. Bilder og maling er en urgammel måte å kommunisere på, og de har et utrolig potensial. Men vi har også nye teknologiske muligheter i dag. Kanskje kan man bruke foto om man vil dokumentere. Det er ikke sikkert at maleren bør gjøre nettopp det.

For mange er kunstnerlivet selve drømmen. New York gjør det hele eksotisk og spennende. Men Torild Stray synes å ha blandet det kunstneriske kallet med en sunn dose realisme. Hun innrømmer at mange ganger er det tøft.

– Det er mye som står på spill for å få ting til å fungere. Det er vanskelig å male. Det er lett å finne på unnskyldninger for ikke å male. Heldigvis har jeg en mann som tror på meg hundre prosent og støtter meg hele veien. Han ber meg om å fokusere på bildene når jeg har lyst til å legge dem fra meg, sier hun med et smil.

I det siste har hun hatt flere interessante besøk i atelieret fra gallerier og kuratorer.

– Det blir spennende se hvor det leder hen. Uansett har jeg fokus på arbeidet mitt og setter pris på dagliglivet i storbyen. Kanskje ser jeg annerledes på dette etter hvert og må vurdere om det er nødvendig å flytte basen, sier Torild Stray.

Denne gangen blir det bare for en kort stund – til Bergen.

****Dr.art/filosof. Knut Kolnar,Contemplations, catalog text by Knut Kolnar, 2006

An Apocalyptic Landscape

Apocalyptic Landscape, oil on linen 42 in x 82 in / 97 cm x 208 cm, 2001-03 TStray

You’ll end up alone, like an animal.*

The image is a play of light and dark, of kneeling and falling. The canvas is populated by people ashamed to stand upright, imprisoned in psychological gravitational fields weighing them down to the ground. The ground is mutable; in some places porous and treacherous like marshland, in others sprouting hard edges resembling knives of terracotta, designed for cutting and slicing flesh. Figures are emerging from the earth, covered in mud; living alloys of sand, water, and soil. Elsewhere the charcoal stick has given the human beings the form of tombstones, patched with white marble, rocks attempting to unfold their wings, halfway unreal and completely inexplicable to themselves.

This is a reality where everybody is guilty and all ways out are closed off by the underlying gesso and large brushstrokes of black and white oil paint. The figures are formed by a charcoal stick that nails them down and captures them in certain positions, while simultaneously introducing a new type of clarity. Some are huddling under a threatening sky, terrified to stand upright; others are squatting down in maternal poses.

One figure, rendered transparent by too little charcoal, is attempting to wash his hands in the soil, to dry off the blood on the rocks. He is dreaming that God is an ocean of white doves, while Goya’s melancholy dog is licking charcoal and blood from his  fingertips.

A desolate universe is depicted here, a Waste Land where light penetrates light, but where the figures nevertheless remain in the dark. A Biblical landscape of spirit and barren lands is unfolding. The humans therein are formed as mythical images of eternal exile and sacrifices in holy rituals that engender cultural structures. The characters are filtered through themes of shame in a shameless world, of guilt that can never be cleansed, and of hateful and destructive minds rebelling against life; a life that suddenly changes its course, leaving bitterness and hatred behind, suddenly afloat and filled with gratitude, warmth, and an amazement for the continual newness of all things, before it once again alters its course and becomes sick with uncertainty.


This image is no satire of human foolishness, there is no ironic outsider’s gaze; the pictorial space is not filled with the colder skies of Modernism, these are not humans bereft of their existential foothold staggering across the canvas, nor are they frozen in isolation, inaccessible on opposite sides of the café table. Nor do the charcoal lines ridicule the endlessly acces- sible postmodern individual, open like a TV set, who in a moment of knowing is cowering in shame over his own acces- sibility. The artist is existentially intertwined in the image, and so this is not a tableau meant to criticize the decadence, the degradation and general corruption of our civilization. Instead, it is narrating a story of a way to walk, search, and learn.


* Federico Fellini. La dolce Vita, 1960.


I am

There is only one clue to the universe. And that is the individual soul within the individual being. The Cosmos is nothing but the aggregate of the dead bodies and dead energies of bygone individuals. The living soul partakes of the dead souls, as the living breast partakes of the outer air, and the blood partakes of the sun.2

The painting is struggling to get a grip on the immediately incomprehensible inherent in the statement I am. It is insisting that truths about the human being exist, that a hidden wholeness is at work within each one of us, and that we are coming into being in contexts that we can only vaguely suspect. These are worlds we cannot point to or arrive at through dissection or analysis. The invisible world is revealing itself in glimpses in  the way the colors are hunching on the canvas, in the angles the light follows, in the lines forming the figures’ contours, and in the geometrical relationships anchoring the pictorial plane   in its distinctive balance.

In the play between light and dark, between upright and bent, shades of gray and hard, pitch dark lines and uneven strokes of burnt and raw umber are playing with layers and layers of realities. The colors are revealing something unknown; a strange death at work within the image, opening up abysses inside the universe conjured up by the charcoal strokes, submerging our psyche in a darkness shutting out all life.

In another pictorial layer, the span of colors and values open up for intense and luminous realities, flinging the figures with new hope into themselves. In these gravitational fields, the characters are attempting to anchor themselves, to become aware of what they are and where they belong. What kind of life they are living. Through gestures and poses, they are turning to a different reality for a hint on what lines they must draw to bring a self into this world.

Just off the image’s center, the charcoal dust is forming the hands of an upright figure into something resembling a prayer: the human being’s sign that he is living in a mystical world he does not understand. He is addressing it, attempting to get reality to speak to him, pressing his body against invisible limits. He is longing for a self within the self that is far greater than the self. Halfway conscious and halfway real, he murmurs stories about a life force in motion, crossing boundaries between the sacred and the profane. Reaching out for a world where things are strongly related, where the elements lose their characteristics and limits and merge with one another, forming new constellations, generating worlds within worlds, which are again dissolved, floating forth, perpetually coming into being and being dissolved again.

In this desolate landscape, there are no rituals that can take him by the hand and show him the way. He is a mythical figure in a landscape free of myths. In the far background of the painting, a cityscape emerges: dark, massive, and threatening. It is a closed-off cosmos without a center, communicating through   its worldly images; a daily unloading of myths embodied as signs flickering across LCD screens, installing themselves as digital configurations. The urban human being is intravenously connected to a stream of images sealing him off inside a profane metabolism.

He is about to end up alone, like an animal in the dark.

He mutters about longings with a tongue made of charcoal and prays for another metabolism, searching for new images. He has fallen outside the life that passes on life. He is  staring into a monotonous chain of cosmic catastrophes, dimly seeing vigorous arms of light at the far end of the painting. Life that is being passed on. Living dead let go by Death. He is screaming, not in a deafening and hoarse way, but whiningly, in a squeaking voice, like a teething child, frightened in the dark.



Fellini, Federico. La Dolce Vita. 1960.

Prada, Juan Manuel de. Fitter. Oslo: Spartacus, 2002, (1996). [Original Tittel: Coños]

Lawrence, D.H. Fantasia of the Unconscious. Suffolk: The Viking Press, 1960,  (1921).

Dr.art/filosof. Knut Kolnar er aktuell med boken: Mannedyret – Begjær i moderne film

Utgitt på Spartacus Forlag (www.spartacus.no)

2 D.H. Lawrence. (1921): 150-152.


Norwegian translation :

Apokalyptisk landskap

You’ll end up alone, like an animal.*

Bildet er et spill av lys og mørke, kneling og fall. Lerretet er befolket av mennesker som skammer seg over å være oppreiste, innfanget i psykiske gravitasjonsfelt som knuger dem mot bakken. Grunnen er bevegelig; noen steder porøs og upålitelig som en myr, andre steder hard, kantete og stivnet som kniver av terrakotta, skapt for å kutte og skjære i kjøtt. Skikkelser stikker frem av jorden, dekket av gjørme; levende legeringer

av sand og vann og jord. Andre steder har kullstiften formet menneskene som gravstøtter, flekket med hvit marmor, steiner som forsøker å brette ut vingene, halvt uvirkelige og fullstendig uforståelige overfor seg selv.

Det er en virkelighet hvor alle er skyldige og alle veier ut er stengt av primer og store penselstrøk med sort og hvit olje. Menneskene får form av en kullstift som nagler og fanger i bestemte positurer, samtidig som den innleder en ny type klarhet. Noen krøker seg under en truende himmel skrekkslagne for å stå rett, andre setter seg på huk i moderlige positurer.

En skikkelse, gjennomsiktig av for lite kullstift, forsøker å vaske hendene i jorden, tørke blodet mot steinene. Han drømmer at Gud er et hav av hvite duer, mens Goyas melankolske hund slikker kull og blod fra fingertuppene.

Det er en øde verden som skildres, et “Waste Land” hvor lys trenger gjennom lys, men likevel lar skikkelsene forbli i mørket. Det brettes ut et bibelsk landskap av ånd og ørken hvor menneskene formes i mytiske bilder av evig eksil og hellig kulturskapende offer. Personene er filtrert gjennom temaer om skam i en skamløs verden, om skyld som aldri kan vaskes av og av hatefulle og destruktive sinn i opposisjon mot livet; et liv som plutselig endrer retning, som legger det bitre og hatefulle bak seg, og som med ett flyter og er fylt av takknemlighet, varme og en forundring over alle tings stadige nyhet, før det igjen skifter retning og blir sykt av uvisshet.


Bildet er ingen satire over menneskenes dårskap, det er ikke et ironisk utenifra blikk som presenteres; billedflaten fylles  ikke av modernismens kaldere himmel, det er ikke mennesker som har mistet det eksistensielle fotfestet som raver over lerretet, heller ikke er de frosset i isolasjon, utilgjengelige på hver sin side av kafébordet. Kullstrekene latterliggjør heller ikke postmodernitetens tilgjengelige menneske, åpent som en

tv, som i et øyeblikk av visshet krøker seg sammen i skam over sin egen tilgjengelighet. Kunstneren er eksistensielt innvevd i bildet, det gjør det ikke til et kulturkritisk tablå over dekadanse, forfall og allment skjørlevnet. I stedet er det en beretning om en måte å gå, lete og lære på.

*Federico Fellini. La dolce Vita, 1960.

Jeg er

There is only one clue to the universe. And that is the individual soul within the individual being. The Cosmos is nothing but the aggregate of the dead bodies and dead energies of bygone individuals. The living soul partakes of the dead souls, as the living breast partakes of the outer air, and the blood partakes of the sun.2

Bildet strever med å vinkle det umiddelbart uforståelige i utsagnet jeg er. Det insisterer på at det finnes sannheter om mennesket, at det arbeider skjulte helheter i hver enkelt, og at vi blir til i sammenhenger som vi kun vagt kan ane. Dette er verdener vi ikke kan peke på, dissekere oss inn til eller analy- sere oss frem til. Den usynlige verden gløtter frem gjennom de måter fargene kryper sammen på lerretet, gjennom de vinkler lyset følger, gjennom de streker som gir skikkelsene konturer, og de geometriske forhold som forankrer billedflaten i sin særegne balanse.

I spillet mellom lys og mørke, mellom oppreist og krøket, leker gråtoner, harde kullsorte streker og ujevne strøk av brent og rå umbra med lag på lag av virkeligheter. Fargene avdekker noe ukjent; en fremmed død som arbeider i bildet, som åpner avgrunner innenfor kullstrekenes verden og bader psyken i et mørke som lukker alt liv ute. I et annet lag av bildet åpner spennet i fargene og valørene for voldsomme og lysende vir- keligheter, som kaster skikkelsene håpefullt inn i seg selv.

I disse gravitasjonsfeltene forsøker personene å forankre seg, komme til bevissthet om hva de er og hvor de hører hjemme. Hvilket liv de lever. Gjennom gester og positurer henvender de seg til en annen virkelighet for å få noen hint om hvilke streker de må dra for å sette et selv inn i verden.

Kullstøvet former hendene til noe som ligner en bønn, på en oppreist skikkelse nesten midt i bildet. Menneskets tegn på at det lever i en mystisk verden det ikke forstår. Han henvender seg, forsøker å få virkeligheten i tale, presser kroppen mot usynlige grenser. Han lengter etter et selv inne i selvet som er langt større enn selvet. Halvt bevisst og halvt virkelig mumler han historier om livskraft i bevegelse, krysser grenser mellom det hellige og det profane. Rekker ut mot en verden av store slektskaper, hvor elementene mister sine egenskaper og grenser og flyter over i hverandre, inntar nye konstellasjoner, danner verdener i verdener, som oppløses, flyter videre og blir til og oppløses igjen i det uendelige.

I dette øde landskapet er det ingen riter som kan ta ham i hånden og lede ham på sporet. Han er en mytisk skikkelse i et landskap fritt for myter. I utkanten av bildet reiser et bylandskap seg mørkt, massivt og truende. Det er et lukket kosmos uten senter, som kommuniserer gjennom sine verdslige bilder; et daglig myteslipp som tar bolig i tegn som flimrer  over

LCD-skjermene, og installerer seg i digitale konfigurasjoner. Urbanitetens menneske er intravenøst tilkoblet en flyt av bilder som lukker det inne i et profant stoffskifte.

Han er i ferd med å ende opp som et dyr alene i mørket. Han mumler lengsler med en tunge av kullstift og ber om et annet stoffskifte, leter etter nye bilder. Han er falt ut av det livet som videregir liv. Stirrer inn i en monoton kjede av kosmiske katastrofer. Skimter voldsomme armer av lys i enden av bildet. Liv som blir gitt videre. Levende døde som døden slipper tak i. Han skriker, ikke overdøvende og hest, men sutrende, med pipetoner i stemmen, som et barn som føder nye tenner, urolig i mørket.


Fellini, Federico. La Dolce Vita. 1960.

Prada, Juan Manuel de. Fitter. Oslo: Spartacus, 2002, (1996). [Original Tittel: Coños]

Lawrence, D.H. Fantasia of the Unconscious. Suffolk: The Viking Press, 1960,  (1921).

Dr.art/filosof. Knut Kolnar er aktuell med boken: Mannedyret – Begjær i moderne film

Utgitt på Spartacus Forlag (www.spartacus.no)

2 D.H. Lawrence. (1921): 150-152.



Portrait of Stray in the WTC Studio,Photo by Mikette Miller ,NY 1998

Dystopi og dødsdans

Anmeldelse av  Harald Flor  Dagbladet, Oslo

Tirsdag 2. oktober 2001

Torild Strays svære New York-panorama skal henge fram til og med torsdag i Galleri 27 i Oslo, og det er en utsikt man nå ser med nye briller etter at 11. septembers selvmordsbombere påførte metropolen dens ulegelige sår.

Likevel ville nok synet av den enorme kulltegningen – som ble laget for to år siden – også vakt uvanlige assosiasjoner på et tidligere tidspunkt. For det mer enn fire meter breie bildet tegner en visjon hinsides motivet som modernitetens mest klassiske skue, og fjernt fra livsappetittens nå uspiselige Big Apple -metafor. Gjennom den urgamle og symbolsk ladde tegneteknikken i kull maner Stray fram en forestilling om Manhattan som motpolen til levende metropol – i det verdens kanskje mest gjennomregulerte urbane struktur assosierer til de dødes by, en nekropol. Skyskraperne står som dystre gravstøtter, og selv arkitekturen i Empire State Building har fått forskjøvet sin symmetriske perfeksjon som understreker dramaet og den labile balansen i billeduttrykket.

Det er likevel vår viten om at utsiktspunktet som Stray tegnet sitt stereoformat fra ikke lenger eksisterer, som får det visuelt depressive synet til å gå over i et kroppslig grøss. Adgangen til et atelier i 85. etasje i et av tvillingtårnene ga henne en kunstnerisk privilegert posisjon, selv om hun skulle formidle følelsen av et ubestridelig ubehag over inntrykket av utsikten. Gjennom den aktuelle konteksten forandres de dystre og delvis ekspressivt utviskete motivtrekkene over fra personlig preget vånde, og den ensomme tegningen i galleriet blir også å lese som en nekrolog.

New York Metamorphosis ,Charcoal on paper , 15feet x 6 feet,WTC Studios, LMCC Artist in Residence Program, New York