Norwegian artist Hilde Gustava creates dynamic pieces through the use of vibrant colors and textures. The opposite of the typically minimalist and ‘dark’ Norwegian artists’ work (by her own description), Hilde’s art is daring. Her choice of colors and the multiple-layering technique makes the structure and depth of her paintings rich and exciting. She has won the “Hedmarksprisen” Art and Cultural Award in 2012.
The symbols for Pi and infinity are prominently featured in her works. They emphasize the idea of endlessness and man’s continuous need to explore. Humanity will forever investigate and experiment to find new ways of living and doing things, just as the artist will always find new ways to create. “I feel that the process of creating art is eternal, like the decimals in Pi,” says Gustava. “The opportunities in color, rhythm, and composition are endless…it’s overwhelming and beautiful. I find the process of art making mysterious and unlimited.”
I feel that the process of creating art is eternal, like the decimals in Pi.
Apart from her work as a painter, Gustava creates intricate sculptures from found objects and trash, short films, black and white drawings, and collaborates with musicians, actors, and dancers. In addition to this, Gustava also teaches Drama, Art and Norwegian History, and is a part of numerous charity and arts organizations. She loves working with other people to help them express themselves the way she has learned to through her art.
We spoke with Hilde to learn more about the meaning behind her work and her journey as an artist.
We noticed that the symbol for Pi is prevalent in your works. Why is that?
I am very intrigued by ancient spiritual and religious symbols, as well as mathematical and practical ones. In my works at Agora Gallery, the symbols for Pi and infinity are shown in one way or another in every piece.
I think it all started when I was five years old, as I was standing beside my beloved grandmother and looking upon the evening sky with a full moon. I marvelled at the size of the moon and she disagreed by explaining that the moon is not so big in the great universe. “You know, Hilde, the Universe is endless,” she said. That just stuck with me.
I became fascinated by the Universe and the idea that it must have “a wall in the end.” Later in life, a math teacher introduced me to the concept of Pi and how it had an endless number of decimals. The fact that a symbol that was so practical and was used every day by mathematicians and engineers was still unknown amused me. Studying ancient symbols and how societies have developed an understanding of their meaning and significance is something I enjoy very much. I find it extremely interesting to dig into the mysteries, alchemy, spirituality, and wisdom of different religions and cultures. I believe that one can understand these things a little bit more through the study of symbols and signs. On top of that, I simply find many of them to be aesthetically beautiful!
Your titles often reference searching or a journey. Has the idea of travel and investigation been significant in your life?
I think we artists are lucky because we have a great opportunity to investigate and find “new things”. I feel so blessed and privileged for that. However, on the other hand, I also feel helpless because I don’t have enough time to put all my ideas out in the world. I take every day as a journey because of all the people and things that I come across. Philosophizing, investigating, and creating never tires me! The Great Journey for me, is both external and internal.
My relatives and friends would tell you that I was born with too much imagination, too much curiosity, and a sensitive heart. I have always—since I was about two years old—loved to draw my surroundings and the things that I imagined in my own head. Even as an art student, I often got bored by the “recipes” that were given to me and liked to create my own style and follow my own path.
I think that has been my hardest and toughest journey – to be strong and to choose and follow my own path.
Can you elaborate more on the role these concepts play in your art?
When referring to the theme of the journey in my art, I am referring to the link of my personal journey with the many great and spectacular travels that began with the first human civilizations. I talk about the people who took the risk to leave their homes and find new places to live or to simply investigate what is beyond the unknown. These are the people who found new continents and began different lifestyles. They were so brave! You can recognize that concept in my work, as you will often see a boat or a travel jar.
I think I need to be an artist to be happy and fulfill my purpose through my imagination and creativity. I just simply need to stick with that, even if it`s hard.
Do you have any preferred materials when recreating these stories?
I love to experiment with everything! As you know, I have a diploma as an art teacher as well as a drama teacher. Hence, costume making and stage design is something I have experience in.
However, I always come back to canvas and paint. I need to have two to three hours a day to paint – that is the most personal and meditative type of expression for me. But it is here that I play with the surface of my canvas, using glue, sand, birdseed, tobacco, pasta, and more.
You also run a business in Norway, Gustava Cultural Factory. Could you tell us a bit more about what you do there?
I founded and currently manage Gustavas Kulturfabrikk (Gustava Culture Factory, in English). It is a place where people of all ages can express themselves, create, and learn in a friendly environment. The Factory is an open space for the people who not only want to enjoy art and culture, but also create something for themselves!
Gustava Culture Factory arranges customized projects and courses for individuals, groups, institutions, and businesses either in their home, workplace, or in the Gustava Culture Factory premises. Gustava Culture Factory can also assist with cabaret performances, stand-up and hidden theater. I’d love to also work with companies looking to decorate their offices. I believe having the employees participate in making the art for the offices and meeting spaces would create a more personal feeling with both the final work and the office itself.
Those who have limited resources are also welcome to The Factory. In the past, I’ve done projects with people suffering from dementia, refugees, prisoners, and many others. Not only do I learn a lot from each of these projects, but it is an honor to help people feel more in touch with themselves and create something beautiful that they feel proud of!
You do so much to help others learn more about themselves and their art. Is there anything that you yourself are still learning as an artist?
Oh, my goodness! That is what is so fantastic! An artist can live a hundred lifetimes in a row, and there could still be so much more to discover.
For me personally, I think the business part of being an artist is very difficult. I limit myself because of that fact. I have no “business-gene.” That is why it is so fantastic to exhibit with professional spaces like the Agora Gallery!
Collecting art is a highly involving and emotional experience. The artist’s process and intention are some of the factors that make one fall in love with his or her piece. Learn more about our artists’ creative methods and fascinating techniques in the Center Stage and Artist Techniques categories.
Hilde Gustava’s works can be viewed and purchased on ART-mine.