Interview: Vida Aasen

Written by Isabelle Pan
Photos by Vida Aasen

My attention was immediately captured when I was shown the sculptural art by Vida Aasen. What was it? It must have been the rare form of the sculpture and the way in which it was presented. The sculpture had an unusual name, Galgo it was called. An interview with the artist was set up a week after my first encounter with her work.

Among a number of young talents, Aasen was elected to display her works in the upcoming exhibition “Animals Anonymous”, which will take place at Gallery Neuf from 5th to 10th March this year.

Aasen has a double degree in Art History and Social Anthropology, and she is currently studying sculptural art at Strykejernet Art School, which is located in the heart of Oslo.  

With a warm smile on her face, she arrived at the university cafe and took a seat. Our conversation flowed freely and smoothly. Two hours soon passed.


– What is the driving force behind your art? To be more precise, what motivates you to create art with the animals as the motif?

– I have always had a passion for animals, the way they move, the way they behave, the anatomy of different animal species, their distinctive characteristics, and their personalities. It all fascinates me. It is important that the art I create should have a dynamic form; it should give an impression that there are feelings and emotions beneath the otherwise rather stagnant sculptures.


– What does the title of the exhibition “Animals Anonymous” imply? Does it carry a vital message?

– “Animals Anonymous” refers to the relationship between humans and animals. I have noticed that there is a recurring pattern in my art. Most of the sculptures I created are affected by human interference in one way or another. “Animal mutation” is one of the themes that has been explored. Human interference is also apparent in sculptures in which the animals are either hung up or presented in a mysterious or strange way. What these animal sculptures have in common is that they all seem to have lost their natural function, making them anonymous to their own identity.  


– Considering the numerous art forms to be chosen from, why did you settle on sculptural art?

– I find it liberating to work with art that exerts a three-dimensional effect. Working with sculptural art gives me the opportunity to focus on entirety. In other art forms such as painting and drawing, it is possible to create a visual effect, which makes a particular scene look deeper or wider than it actually is. The technique is often used in landscape painting. With sculptural art, there is little room for this kind of manipulation. I have to be precise and make sure that the sculpture looks right and natural from different angles.

Aasen showed me a selection of photographs on her homepage. A naked cat cuddling up in the corner, an oddly formed dog hanging up in the air, and a girl in bronze with her head bent over. I looked at these images with huge excitement. I asked her whether some of them would be displayed in the exhibition. “Sphynx and Galgo for sure”, she replied.

The Sphynx cat is a special cat species known for its lack of coat. Aasen mentioned that anatomy was an essential element in the creation of Sphynx, and she intended to make the muscles and joints of the cat visible to the audience. It was important to reveal the dynamics and gravity associated with Sphynx, although it was only a sculpture made of clay. Her Sphynx is positioned in such a way that it is capable of giving various impressions to the viewer. At first sight, the cat looks vulnerable and insecure, and keeps a watchful eye on its surroundings. However, if we look closely, there is still a sense of strength in its expression, a “ready to defend” instinct we often observe in animals.

Galgo, on the other hand, is quite a different case. The Galgo Español (Spanish galgo) or Spanish greyhound is considered to be an ancient breed of dog. With its wide thorax and narrow hips, the anatomy of Galgo fascinates Aasen immensely. As told by the artist, Galgos are often reported to be abused and mistreated. By presenting Galgo in an uncomfortable position, a grotesque sense is displayed. It immediately calls for attention. The dark-blue thread made of plastic and the red-yellowish colour of flesh has a powerful effect, indicating the contrast between artificial objects and natural elements. Vida mentioned that the process of hanging Galgo up in the air aroused a sad feeling in her, as if she, all of sudden, excised enormous power over the dog.


– Where do you get your inspirations from?

– I am grateful for the constructive advice and generous support I have received from my teacher at Strykejernet Art School, David Reid. As a mentor and “alchemist” at the workshops for sculptural art, he is deeply inspiring. In addition, art talks and discussions held at school have provided me with a profound insight as to which step I should take next.

I am also a huge fan of David Lynch, one of the greatest filmmakers in history. I am particularly fascinated by the mysterious scenes and the dramatic storylines presented in his films.


– How is the working process? Have you ever felt that you got stuck in the creative process?

– I always work with various projects at the same time, so if I get stuck in one project, I go to another one. By doing so, I draw inspirations from different sources.


– Do you have any favourite artists? If so, in what aspects do their works inspire you?

– I am passionate about the works by Berlinde de Bruyckere, a Belgian contemporary artist, who specializes in sculpture in various media including wax, wood, wool, horse skin and hair. Miriam Knibbeler is another great artist I admire, whose works often provide me with artistic inspirations. I am planning to test out the materials that were used in their works in my future projects.

It was getting dark outside, almost two hours had passed. In the end, when asked whether she was aiming for a career in sculptural art, Vida said “yes” with no hesitation at all. With her artistic creativity and dedication to sculptural art, I believe there is a great chance that she will flourish in this field.