Introduction to catalogue: Project Gambia/Henie Onstad Art Centre

Gavin Jantjes
Artistic Director

Henie Onstad Art Centre

The sculptures of Marian Heyerdahl have their roots in many parts of the world but the dominant one over the past years is Africa. The circle of her artistic research has come full circle from the African continent back to her home. It reflects an artistís concern with the element air, earth, fire and water. Her work in ceramics has made her aware of these primary elemental properties in the materials used in adobe construction.

The formal and aesthetic properties in her work speak of simplicity of form, of low technology rather than high, offering an antithesis to a hyper post modern environment.

Marian Heyerdahl has made an adobe structure in Africa and this new installation is the Norwegian part of her sculptural dialogue with the Gambia. In Africa her sculptures stood outdoors in warm daylight and even though her new work is made inside the gallery, it evokes a rural expanse. The scale of her construction reflects the man-made as well as group accomplishment.

Both material and form speak of an organic connection to the earth, of sculptural forms arising from it and not seeking to disengage gravity, as modern skyscrapers appear to do. The research is not for the sky. It is an uplifting, moment, of an art which is very much earth bound.

In another way the ancient materials of adobe are very contemporary even fashionable. The return by many contemporary architects to this ecological and economical building technique around the world makes its sculptural language international.

As the close of this century it is refreshing to be reminded of things basic, organic and in touch with the deep traditions of human kind.