Kenneth Alme

Kenneth Alme

Tell me a bit about yourself!

I was born in Tønsberg, a city in the south of Norway, and grew up in the town of Stranda in the region of Sunnmøre on the north west coast. I studied at Kunstakademiet in Oslo and at Städelschule in Frankfurt am Main and I am based in Oslo and Vestfossen.

You recently had a beautiful exhibition at Gether Contemporary in Copenhagen. What was your idea for this show?

Thank you, I’m glad to hear that. As the title suggested, this exhibition took its starting point from isolation and separation, amongst others. Einsame Insel means lonely island. The exhibitions are rarely the result of one idea alone, but rather a continuation of my practise and thus can encompass several ideas and touch upon different themes. There are themes and interests that form the backbone of my practise; themes like isolation, separation and historical connections are reoccurring and these are supported by my interest in history, anthropology, music, film an literature. I rarely portray humans, or human acts but rather objects and things that surround us, and take on a symbolic role, like caves, trees, islands etc. Whenever I portray objects I try to paint them as simple as possible, almost as a sketch, and I often repeat them several times.

The works, when in my studio and when in a gallery space, are two very different things I think. In the studio they are still in my private sphere, they are not finished and relieved yet and there is still a chance that they might change. 

So when I prepare for an exhibition I like to play around with the architecture and qualities of the space. For this particular exhibition it was the two video works that defined how the outcome would be.

What is your thought process like when you're making new work for a show? 

As I mentioned, it is a continuation of themes and interests. But that said, every space has its own qualities and challenges and I take this into account when planning the shows.

Were there any creative discoveries along the way?

This is the first exhibition where I have included some video works. I have thought about it many times, but for different reasons dropped it. For this exhibition it made sense to include them. I showed a video on two flat screen TVs. The film is a distorted 8-second loop of a pine tree falling. One screen was mounted on one of the window pillars and the other one laid flat on the floor. They actually became the pivot point for the whole exhibition and became the reference point for the installation. Sophus (Sophus Gether, the founder and owner of Gether Contemporary in Copenhagen) wrote a beautiful text for the show where also the video piece became the centre of reading the exhibition. When making these works I didn’t think of them as videos. I’m not a tech nerd by any means, so I see them as a prolonging of my paintings. The video is in a vertical format, this way it also relates to the paintings, since they were all in a vertical format.

At the end wall of this installation was a painting of a still frame from the film, only mirrored.

Can you tell me a bit about your process?

I read a lot in general, and when I start working on new material it is often based on this. When I find themes of interest I dig deeper and I often mirror them against other interests or subjects that it might have a relation to. 

Right now I’m also working on some new material (physical material to work on), so there is a lot of testing and research linked to this, to see what possibilities and restrictions the material inherit.

Time in the studio is precious and interesting, and also difficult at times

What first interested you in making art?

I wanted to make comics when I was younger, and when I started at my first art school (Ålesund Kunstskole), this was still my prime focus. But this changed quite fast when I got confronted with painting. The first thing I ever painted was plastic bottle with red spirit against a hospital green background. I had no idea what to do with paint so I painted the first thing I saw in front of me. I think I still have that painting in storage.

What is your favorite thing about the media you work with?

The diversity of outcomes that some paint and a surface can present to you is quite interesting I think.

Also the challenges connected with it. I still find it a difficult and challenging media to work with at times.

What is your studio like? 

For the last three years now I have had a studio in Vestfossen, a small village outside of Oslo. I moved the studio out here because it had access to large spaces with high ceiling much cheaper than in Oslo. Also, I was interested in the “isolation” aspect of moving my studio out. It’s less then an hour from the centre of Oslo, but still far away enough that when you’re there you work and don’t fiddle around with other stuff.

The studio itself is in an old factory that used to make paper until it was shut down in the 70s after a crisis in the industry. We are several artists based here so there is a small community of sorts. I share the studio space with Are Blytt. 

The art museum Vestfossen Kunstlaboratorium is located in the building and my project space Altan is also situated here, on the balcony outside of my studio. So I’m lucky to have a quite large studio, with kitchen, storage, balcony and the whole works on the cost of a little more travel time.

It takes time to build a studio, and it seems like it is always in development.

Vestfossen is also, allegedly, home to some of the oldest man made caves in Norway, dating back to the 1300-1400s. Hence the reoccurring caves in my paintings.

Do you have any routines or rituals in the studio that keep you in a creative mode?

Not one specific thing, except that I prefer having documentaries running in the background when I work. I have a selection of films and documentaries that I know and enjoy and I like to have them on while working.

What do you do if you find yourself at a creative standstill?

Go for a walk and read.

What do you find most challenging or daunting about being an artist, whether creatively or professionally?

I’m tempted to say everything and nothing.

Is there any advice you've received that you value a lot in your work? Any that you're glad you ignored?

I paid attention to my professors and then did what I thought was right. Henrik Plenge Jacobsen, my professor during my masters at the art academy in Oslo has meant a great deal to me. He helped me and pushed me to go abroad to study, seeing a need for new impulses.

What are you working on right now?

Right now I’m working on several projects for 2018, both solo shows and group projects. 

Also planning for a residency that I’m doing this summer. And the next show on Altan called Birdfeeders opens in December, so I’m working on that as well.

Find more at kennethalme.com and on Instagram @kennethalme!

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Audacious @ The Switch

Audacious @ The Switch

Ryan Leitner

Ryan Leitner