Gunn Vottestad’s Houses

Our house is our castle, our private room, where stories are hidden, where our inner self is living and has lived.
No one can penetrate it, if they are not invited

The houses can hide us from the world. Houses reflect our lives. Some of us ”read” the stories of houses in a larger perspective, and we undress them. Then they stand there, revealing our most vulnerable minds. We recognize ourselves, know our history, our inadequacies, and just as fully our robustness.

The artist Gunn Vottestad (1949) is one of the few who manages to convey our feelings and experiences through her visualized houses. For almost 20 years she has painted characteristic poetic coastal houses. These were built with simple materials after World War II, as part of the reconstruction of Norway, especially Northern Norway, after it was burned and bombed. These coastal houses are the vein of the artist. In the houses we find both our outer and inner history. This catalogue gives us an insight into the artist’s houses. Vottestad is one of the first in Norway to dedicate her artistic career to these distinctive houses. This art catalogue presents 20 of the artist’s work on the theme of houses . The first house we have is from 2001, and the last is from 2018.

Gunn Vottestad was born and raised in Myre in Vesterålen. She lives in Oslo and also in Nyksund in Vesterålen. The artist commutes regularly between the north and south of the country. Vottestad started her artistic education in Germany. Her master was the artist Hans Kôhler. She also took courses at the University of Stuttgart, followed by three years at the art school in Oslo, two years at “Folkeuniver sitetet”, and one year in the then Oslo drawing-and painting school. In 1997 she made her debut with a solo exhibition. Vottestad is also a graphic artist, but this art catalogue shows only the artist’s oil paintings on the theme of houses. The artist works are being sold in over 40 galleries all over the country today.

The houses reflect our inner and outer space. The artist found the inspiration for the houses from his daughter Bea, who lacks language. This is reflected in the lonely, melancholy houses. All the same, we see traces of us, of our history, and the lives of our ancestors in her work. The traces give the houses soul. Only in some works do we find human beings. The houses of Vottestad are made in a rough style, as a legacy of the roughness of Northern Norwegian nature. Out of the artist’s rough style of painting, with color applied, has grown the imperfect old houses. The lighting of the works is brought about by Vottestad’s vibrating colorings.

Vottestad houses remind us a bit of the picturesque modernism we find in the German Gabrielle Müntes (1877-1962) artistry. The simple traits, in shape, that express internal experiences, are also the fundamental understanding of expressionist painters from the last part of the 19th century. One of the main goals of the expressionists was to influence human feelings directly without going the way around the thought, and that is precisely what Vottestad does. The houses of Vottestad reflect and communicate directly with our feelings. We also see a relationship to another German expressionist painter/graphic designer, Emil Nolde (1867-1956) in Vottestads artistry. Like Nolde, Vottestad has a strong coloring, and the lines are more or less dissolved, at least rough and uneven. We can also see traces of kinship to our Norwegian Rolf Nesch (1893-1975). Nesch also belonged to the expressionist painting tradition. We can sense similarities, not only in technique, but also in the choice of motives. In Netsch’s work ”Lofotfiskere drar garn” (The fishermen from Lofoten draws yarn) from 1936-37, we encounter the same roughness as in Vottestad’s houses. The expressionist painting tradition can be said to have a strong position in Vottestand’s artistry, both in terms of technique and contents. Nevertheless, we see a separate twist of the technical representation of Vottestad. The artist is working with few colors in each work; it is rather nuances of the same color that creates light and life in her work. Hence, we can get an optical experience of vibrating coloring.

Text by Kristin Josefine Solstad, KunstsentralenNord
Excerpt from Gunn Vottestad Painting Catalogue
October 2018




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