Bjerger’s search for motifs begins with piles of books, magazines and old photographs. Redundant images get a new life in Bjerger’s universe. There isn’t a typical Anna Bjerger painting. People see the themes they want to see. To some, she paints forests and mountains, to some it's paintings of girls. Bjerger's subject matter is wide ranging. She paints portraits and landscapes but she also paints toilet rolls. When she does paint sunsets or other seemingly easily accessible subjects, it’s probably for a very different reason than we imagine. It can be a detail or a whole that catches Bjerger’s attention, whether it’s a tennis ball or a landscape it’s always painted with equal respect.
For Bjerger’s exhibition Silence she used a square format as a starting point. The format has been essential for Bjerger’s search for both subject and composition through the series.
Bjerger explains ‘’A horizontal rectangle (landscape format) or vertical rectangle (portrait format) invite a motif. Paint a line in a rectangle and it's a horizon. Make a line in a square and it's just a line. The rectangle with its landscape or portrait format has, in its nature, an intrinsic motif. The square does not invite motifs in the same way, it is already perfect. As a figurative painter I wanted to investigate the limits for the painting and push the motif to the moment where it dissolves and becomes surface, color and brush marks.’’
The restriction of the format allowed Bjerger to approach composition from a different point, removing the conventions suggested by a rectangle. The men and women inhabiting these images both in movement and stillness, direct their gaze away from the viewer or inwards towards themselves as if in a moment of self reflection. This deliberate lack of contact is perhaps the reason these images offer a more contemplative feeling that shifts the focus between subject and medium. The brush marks become as important as the images it describes.
Silence, the title, refers to presence and focus. The thought of a painting making a sound might seem odd. But there is quietness in the moment one experiences the work – this is very true for the viewer experiencing Anna Bjerger’s paintings.
The exhibition is curated by David Risley, who also is the author of the text in the exhibition catalogue.