ART & DESIGN

Ida Ekblad Returns Home

The Norwegian artist dabbles in the familiar and the foreign.


Abstract painting can feel safe and reductive, but in the hands of Ida Ekblad, it acquires a rare virtue: fearlessness. Ekblad’s canvases combine churning fields of color withboldly drawn alien characters or graffiti-style lettering. “I always thought it was so stupid to do graffiti on painting,”she admits. “But maybe because it was so stupid, it was tempting.” Ekblad, 34, is among the best known artistsin her native Oslo—the Norwegian capital has matured into an art world powerhouse over the past decade, thanks to a first-rate art school and generous government funding. Though she’s lived in London, Berlin, Los Angeles,and Italy (where she was a highlight of the 2011 Venice Biennale), she’s now back in her hometown, along with her3-year-old daughter, Lilja. “I have a huge studio by the fjord,” says Ekblad, who also welds coarse sculptures from salvaged metal and writes poetry. “Sometimes, even when it’s cold, I go down to the water. When I got pregnant, my whole body wanted to go back to Norway. It was a force. And I haven’t complained one second.”

Ida Ekblad. Photograph by Simon Skreddernes.

The Next Frontier

“In the art world, you don’t get to interact with everyday people as often as you would imagine.” -Tavares Strachan.

Tavares Strachan’s You Belong Here, 2014. Courtesy of the artist.

“I was hiding all of this offstage stuff, and I started thinking I could do it the other way.” -Lucas Blalock

Two Lettuces, 2014. Courtesy of the artist.

“I have a huge studio by the fjord. Sometimes, even when it’s cold, I go down to the water. When I got pregnant, my whole body wanted to go back to Norway. It was a force. And I haven’t complained one second.” -Ida Ekblad

Ekblad’s Kons, 2014. Courtesy of the artist and Gavin Brown’s Enterprise.

“Embarrassment and discomfort are a great place for a painting to exist.” -Sanya Kantarovsky

Wet Hands, 2015. Courtesy of the artist, Casey Kaplan, New York, and Marc Foxx, Los Angeles.

“All day long, as we use the phone and the Internet, we’re leaking information that is collected to create portraits of us.” -Josh Kline

Professionalism and Po-Po, both 2015 are elements from Kline’s installation Freedom, 2015. Photograph by Biel Parklee.

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