Line Gulsett


1981, Tønsberg, Norway

Line Gulsett is a promising young painter who works and lives in The Hague, the Netherlands. She finished her education at the KABK (royal academy for visual arts) in 2011.

Her work is surprisingly mature in style and gesture for a painter her age. The large-scale paintings are instantly recognizable. She cleverly uses oil paint to suggest fleeting movements and she obscures the faces and features of her painted figures as to emphasize their macabre poetic aesthetic. Besides the ingenious suggestion of movement that signifies her style she creates painted environments that simultaneously seem to be an abstract exploration of paint and a suggestion of a dream landscape. In these landscapes she often takes on a bird's eye view or an otherwise skewed perspective that can make her works drift between figurative and the surreal.

Her subject matter seems to stem from childlike dreams. They appear to be fragments of a child's imagination which occur just before the onset of a nightmare. Girls wearing skirts in vibrant colours sprint between traffic signs and wild dogs. Figures are cut of at knee height and only show a insecure wobble of legs painted purposely awkward. In her newer works these gothic dreamscapes are cut off with hard undiluted colours and sharply edged geometrical shapes. Here again her fascination with paint over subject shines trough.

The second body of work she currently produces is made up out of oil-pastel drawings in a small scale. These offer intimate peaks into what seems to be almost sectarian rituals and tales of folklore. These dark works show even more of the gothic aesthetic that is touched upon by the large-scale paintings. They can be at times apocalyptic scenes of disintegration and mental distress. Were in the painting the focus lies on the applied material, here she chooses to let the paper shine trough the works. The rough, unbleached paper she uses creates a fascinating contrast with the suggestive smudges of pastel. In stead of the full on dreamworlds of the paintings, these pieces seem to be fragments of repressed memories. They show the frameworks of an afterimage while focusing on a decisive act of movement.

The combination of narrative figuration and abstract deconstruction give these works the appearance of Chagall wandering into the world of Gerhard Richter. What makes them so recognizable though is Line's interest in poetic darkness. Within the realm of the gothic she seems to discover a self-reflective and intimate place that offers her a distinct signature. It will be interesting to see where the path into the dark woods of Norway is heading.