Håvard Homstvedt : Woven into the canvas

From left to right:
Edouard Paolozzi in the mirror, 2007, Oil on canvas on panel
New Skin, 2007, Oil pastel, charcoal, and acrylic with collage on Arches Cover Black paper
Sitting Anthem, 2007, Oil pastel, charcoal, and acrylic with collage on Arches Cover Black paper
Up in Smoke, 2007, Oil pastel, charcoal, and acrylic with collage on Arches Cover Black paper


Håvard Homstvedt has a unique and tangible practice to his work, focusing on the use of textile-inspired patterns and representational models. His paintings and sculptures draw particular attention to textures and surfaces: “I like textures and the feel of handicrafts”, he has stated.[1] From Homstvedt’s patterns and shapes in his textile practice, illusionistic yet ambiguous spaces and scenes emerge in his paintings. In the works proudly owned by the Adrastus Collection Edouard Paolozzi in the mirror (2007), New Skin (2007), Sitting Anthem (2007) and Up in Smoke (2007), he depicts figures composed from various patterns that present metaphoric figures and objects rendered in a thickly painted still-life style.

Homstvedt’s practice characterizes a lyrical, yet extensive exploration into art history and century-spanning traditions of craft and textile.[2] His use of oil pastel, charcoal, and acrylic collage gives each work a dynamic surface in the two-dimensional realm. While there are figurative and formal elements, they are not narrative and cannot be tied down to a particular time or place; in this sense, they give an atmosphere of abstraction. His paintings seek to draw the viewer in, but he also seeks to maintain a focus on the surface and material of the work. This is particularly obvious in New Skin (2007) and Sitting Anthem (2007) as they both project figures, one facing towards the viewer and the other with its back to the viewer, drawing you in to take a better look. His figures seem to be disconnected from their surroundings, being present yet unreachable, generating ambient studies that are disconnected from a specific genre or the representation of the factual world.[3] Homstvedt’s projects a coexistence of abstract and figurative elements in these works, as well as a distinct focus on materiality and his palpable process. It is this process, palpable on the surface of all his works, that overrides any attempt to divide or categorize Homstvedt by a medium. He works beyond these borders, creating a space for introspection and imagination, interrupting the daily stream of images through the filter of his memory, transforming it into autonomous entities that populate the here and now.[4]

Painted in oil on canvas and mixed with other materials, Homstvedt’s compositions have a textile-like appearance. The texture and application of the paint are reminiscent of woodblock print methods or textiles, and make reference to a Norwegian craft palette, particularly the subtle colors traditional to rosemaling, a style of 18th-century decorative painting.[5]  Essayist Trinie Dalton describes his haunting paintings and sculptural works as intimate, painterly, sensual and insular. “Come closer to this painted linen, stretched taut to provide views of every intimate dent and hump in the artwork’s surface. Intimacy lives in the texture of these images constructed like weavings. On a microscopic level of up-close brushstroke examination, painterly gestures overlap, cross and knot around each other like yarn, string, burlap, twine and other fibrous lines, exposing private histories of the people the brushwork both beckons to and hides. These paintings’ citizens hide behind colorful screens they’ve laced together. Like spiders nesting in their meticulous webs, characters reveal subdued, but crafty, pasts. Some figures venture out, in brave familiar groups, but they’ll never look directly at you. Their lack of eye contact isn’t a personal affront, rather a signal they’re content to dwell in warm tapestries of oil paint.”[6]

 Håvard Homstvedt was born in Lørenskog, Norway, in 1976. He received a BFA from RISD in 2000 and an MFA in painting and printmaking from Yale in 2003, but before going to the United States he studied art and design in his native Norway. He has had solo exhibitions with SouthFirst in Brooklyn, New York and Bodi Modern Art Galleries in Newport, Rhode Island. Recent exhibitions include 2019 – At The Lip’s Edge, Galleri Riis, Oslo Nebula, Kunstverket, Oslo. 2018 – Gallery Ismene, Trondheim Nærmere Enn Hva Du Vet, Galleri Riis, Oslo. 2016 – A Glove in a Dusty Dream, Inman Gallery, Houston, Texas, USA. Pinking the Layer, Kunstverket, Oslo, Norway. 2015 – Paintings and Sculptures, Galerie Anne de Villepoix, Paris, France. Beachcomber, Annarumma, Naples, Italy. His work can be found on The National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo, Norway; SKMU Sørlandets Kunstmuseum, Kristiansand, Norway; FRAC Auvergne, France. Håvard lives and works in New York.

[1] Håvard Homstvedt. (n.d.). Retrieved August 14, 2020, from https://www.artsy.net/artist/havard-homstvedt

[2] Galerie Anne de Villepoix. (n.d.). Retrieved July 16, 2020, from http://www.initiartmagazine.com/gallery.php?galleryid=29

[3] Perry Rubenstein Gallery. Retrieved July 16, 2020 from Press Release of Håvard Homstvedt The Close-In (October 17 – November 26, 2008). http://www.nyartbeat.com/event/2008/C82E

[4] Ibid.

[5] SouthFirst. Retrieved July 16, 2020 from Press Release of Håvard Homstvedt: Make Light In Your Dark House (8 April – 15 May, 2005). http://www.artnet.com/artists/h%C3%A5vard-homstvedt/

[6] D.A.P. Retrieved July 16, 2020 from Spring 2009 Release of New Books on Art & Culture p.167. Håvard Homstvedt: YouWill Hardly Know. Text by Trinie Dalton.