Per Kleiva

02.11.18 – 13.01.19

Kniv i vatn is the largest exhibition of Norwegian artist Per Kleiva in the past 30 years and contains several works that have not been shown since the 1960's and 1970's. With its precise and poetic idiom, its experimental approach and its fierce political commitment, Kleiva can be considered a pioneer of the avant-garde in Norway. The exhibition presents a selection of works across genres and decades, with an emphasis on painting and sculpture.

About the exhibition

The artist has a central place in Norwegian art history and not least in Kunstnernes Hus's own history, and a number of the works have previously been shown on the house. His first major solo exhibition took place at Kunstnernes Hus in 1968, in addition to a number of separate and group exhibitions from the mid-60s to the 1980. Practicing art actionism, Kleiva and his colleagues were behind many breakthrough for a number of issues that are still of great importance for the artists' position in Norway today, such as display fees, guarantee income and negotiation rights with the state.

As a member of the GRAS collective in the first half of the 1970s, many of his artistic associations connect with the radical political orientation of this era. Among the fighting cases were anti-imperialism, environmental destruction and the nuclear threat. The exhibition will, among other things, reconstruct the work Cathedral, which Kleiva created for his solo exhibition at Kunstnernes Hus in 1968, an installation that - with its dystopic environmental message - was ahead of its time both in form and content. Kleiva's efforts in public art will also be shown by realizing a 1969 decoration proposal.

The title of the exhibition, Kniv i vatn ("Knife in Water"), is taken from a painting from 1971. In many ways, the paradoxical nature of the title sums up an ongoing tension between opposites in his artistic practice; power and powerlessness, dystopia and utopia. Central to Kleiva's work is also an experimental playfulness, an exploration of non-traditional materials and repetition of motifs in various variations across media and decades.

The exhibition is accompanied by the publication Per Kleiva. Painting and Sculpture published by Press with texts by Thure Erik Lund, Line Ulekleiv, Thomas Flor and Kåre Bulie. The publication was designed by Snøhetta.

The exhibition is curated by Ida Kierulf and Thomas Flor.

About the artist

Per Kleiva was educated at the Art Academies in Oslo, Stockholm, Copenhagen and Florence. He represented Norway at the São Paulo Biennale in 1983, exhibited at the Bergen Festpill exhibition in 1980, as well as having numerous solo exhibitions in Norway such as a large retrospective exhibition at the Trondheim Art Museum in 2010 and an extensive memory exhibition with Kleiva's graphic works at Galleri Kunstverket in 2018. Kleiva's works are represented in public and private collections at the National Museum of Art in Oslo, KODE in Bergen, Oslo Municipality's Art Collection, Northern Norwegian Art Museum, Trondheim Art Museum, Aros (Aarhus), the National Museum in Warsaw, Poland, Skissernas Museum in Lund, Sweden, and the art collections for, among others, Storebrand, Statoil and Nikolai Tangen.