Norwegian artist Henrik Uldalen’s work could be described as both light and dark in nature, a duality in feeling that creates a disturbing yet magnetic tension. This eerie and ethereal quality is a projection of Uldalen’s views on modern society and the current path of humankind. We caught up with Henrik to explore this further.
”If I could change one thing, it would either be to get people to work together to preserve the world and explore the universe in perfect harmony, or annihilate the human species.”
What is the inspiration behind the dreamy and dark quality of your figurative work?
I have a lot of negative thoughts regarding humanity and the world. I have always struggled with feelings of nihilism and the point of existence, and more recently, the void of high emotions. Feelings of alienation from society, loneliness, sometimes even misanthropy.
Do you have a mentor or an idol? Which artists inspire you?
I have many favorites in art, but most of what inspires me is in other genres, like music, books and movies. I love the work of David Lynch, Hayao Miyasaki and Charlie Kaufman.
For paintings I love many – living and dead. I can enjoy different aspects of imagery from so many different artists; compositional ideas from renaissance artists, skin colors from the 19th century painters of America and France, modern ideas from contemporary, conceptual artists, painters and film makers.
Where is your favorite place in the world and why?
Laos, located in between Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia. It’s a heaven on earth. It has a calm atmosphere and it’s still pretty untouched by tourism. It’s people and beautiful and friendly, the have gorgeous temples and incredible food. They pretty much have it all. One day when I can, I will move there for a period of time.
Do you have a studio space? If so could you paint a picture of it for us?
I travel quite a lot so the spaces change often. I usually get a studio wherever I travel. I need to get out of the house and meet people, so a studio is a must. I just moved to Florence and got a new studio: a space shared with graphic designers, artists and architects. I’ve tried to paint at home before, but I go mad in the long run, isolated in my house for days.
If you had the power to change one thing what would it be?
It would either be to get people to work together to preserve the world and explore the universe in perfect harmony, or annihilate the human species. We have no place in the world the way we’re going, exhausting the resources, enslaving all other species for our own perverse production.
If you weren’t an artist, what do you see yourself doing instead?
Somehow making a living of eating. Perhaps a food journalist traveling the world. I would also love to work with astronomy.
Do you have a favorite piece or series that is closest to your heart?
My latest work. I’m working much faster at the moment, and in that way it feels like a much more direct and honest expression of my current moods and thoughts. When I work with a piece for months, and I’m getting close to finalising the piece, I’m just finishing the job. But these faster pieces are as close to a true feeling as I get.
Where did you grow up? What was it like growing up as a creative person in your culture?
I grew up in a small town, Asker, right outside of Oslo, Norway. It is a safe and protective community with a lot of encouraging instances for art. I’ve been very lucky with supportive parents, teachers and friends. In later years I’ve come to see a different side of the art world in Norway. The official Norway has no interest in traditional techniques. The state is throwing money after conceptual art, but nothing for anyone that works with drawing, painting and traditional sculpture.
USA seems to be the best place to be if you’re balancing the modern and the traditional. They have something for everyone. Right now I’m in Italy, and before that Barcelona, where it seems that anything made in this part of the century is gravely under appreciated. They live in the past, only caring about their heritage. It seems unhealthy as well. There needs to be a balance where you appreciate all forms of art, from the past to the future.