Ingerlill Arvei Yngling MA, BA

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Modus Operandi

The words and the wordless language:
- About the familiar and the unfamiliar in Ingerlill Arvei Yngling's paintings

A play on words
Ingerlill Arvei Yngling describes her paintings as an earnest play on words. My thoughts go instinctively to an artist who nearly a century ago created "works" in the form of puns; through simple techniques the words were restructured, creating new meanings through phonetics and pronunciation. Here, as otherwise, Marcel Duchamp anticipated a subsequent trend within art. (Most well-known is the designation of the artist's alter ego, EroseSélavy, which can be read a "eros c'st la vie"). Duchamp was originally a painter, who through various means chose to deplete his work of traditional "meaning". Instead he shifted the attention to the artistic function itself, the conception of the work of art. In the example above, the very language was applied as "readymade", something that could be manipulated.

"Today everything is readymade, even the painting". This statement was made by one of the most celebrated painters of our time, Gerhard Richter, without this seeming to have weakened his belief in painting. However, the statement serves as a reminder that it is precisely through self-criticism and self-analysis that the painting has found the strength to survive in our time. We all know how the work of art - the painting in particular - as a self-sufficient, formal aesthetic unit - was challenged by forces partly embedded in the modernistic idea, forces that to some extent were products of a new cultural, and (socio)political orientation. Along with the traditional, formal aesthetic categories, the traditional division lines between "high" and "low" art and culture were challenged, too. The linguistic element in the art of Arvei Yngling may be seen in the context of this development. In popular art we see that script and image operate together, we surround ourselves with an "everyday aesthetics", where script and other signs of culture constitute a significant part of our visual experience.

The American Richard Prince is one of several artists to use such mundane impulses in his paintings. His "Joke paintings" for example, consist of writing on open, monochrome surfaces, which as compositions may be read as traditional abstractions. However, in these paintings we also find an inter-play between the temporary and the timeless; often the punch lines appear self-depletive, re-shifting focus to the form itself. A younger artist than Prince, Christopher Wool, goes even further in exploring the theme of language and image, or language as image. From initially dissolving the text into the picture, making it difficult or impossible to read, he has in his recent paintings applied simple texts in a way that moves the attention to the artistic process. The paint, or fabric, becomes the most essential. This art reflects the inherent insufficiency of language, but it also conveys the communicative power of imagery. This brings me to the paintings of Ingerlill Arvei Yngling.

The familar and the unfamilar
One of her paintings can be seen in the light of what is outlined above. "The Green Agenda" has a square form and is characterized by a repetitive pattern, an all-over-pattern, which is a feature of some late modernist painting. The pattern consists of several layers, where the grid design creates a spatial effect. However, the homogenous impression is broken by a smaller square, which emerges out of the underlying pattern. At the same time the green form that dominates this space is seen partly under, and party through it, thereby creating an inter-play between surface and space. Moreover, we also see how variations in the pattern, such as the vertical lines, break up the homogenous impression, creating an interior dynamics. The picture has a clear, pure colour palette; the artist is playing with the contrasts of primary colours. The result is a decorative style, which both evokes the "neon colours" of pop art, as well as a more habitual decor, such as textile patterns. Indeed, the artist has referred to such "cultural patterns" as her sources of inspiration. The picture is painted on canvas covered by Plexiglas. It is the small square that first draws our attention to the tiny, round "knobs", or protrusions on the Plexiglas. They draw our attention towards the surface, almost inviting us to touch it.

To most people who have the power of sight, Braille seems like a strange and incomprehensible language, and the characters may appear like abstract patterns. As a pictorial element Braille may evoke the effects or means that we have become familiar with through many decades of art history, not least the serial structures of minimalism. However, the artist is here deliberately playing with the tactile element. The meeting with the work of art becomes a phenomenological approach, where both the exterior and the interior, the visual and material aspects, interact. This interaction refers to the complexity of the visual impressions we are constantly receiving, and to communication in general. This theme is a prominent feature of much contemporary art, but is presented in a fresh and original manner in Ingerlill Arvei Yngling's paintings. By applying Braille as a visual instrument, she puts her finger (almost literally) on the crux of the matter: When signs are "released" from their original context, they may appear alienating, but they may also give rise to a new "meaning".

This deconstruction of the sign has distinguished contemporary culture for some time. Most of it is associated with the so-called post modern era, in which fixed structures are deconstructed, and culture is "read" as text. This liberation may encourage a random play with words and pictures. But as in all good art it is an earnest play, which manages, among other things, at visualizing the vulnerability and exposed position of inter-human forms of communication. At the same time it shows the strength and endless potential of language for achieving an alternative understanding and perception of everyday experiences.
Ingerlill Arvei Yngling creates paintings that are "conscious" of their own origin and history. In the combination of familiar formal structures and the viewer's potential for diverse readings and sensory impressions, the painting's capacity for renewal is illustrated.

Margrét Reykdal
Painter and art historian