"TEXT" by Fanny Bylund

Written by Isabelle Pan
Photos by Fanny Bylund

What’s your impression of these curved lines? Do they create any particular mental associations? Is it a script or sculpture? Or both?

“Text” is the second exhibition of spring 2019, which takes place at Galleri Neuf from 25 to 28 April. The artist Fanny Bylund, a third-year student at Oslo National Academy of the Arts (KHiO) displays her sculptural work that touches upon the subject of script and language.


Bylund works with text in the form of sculpture. With the purpose to create a three-dimensional effect, she has chosen clay as the main material in her work. Bylund views a text with her eyes, by choosing clay as a medium, however, she puts the focus on its physical presence. For her, being able to walk around an item and develop an understanding of its shape and form is especially important.


These lines are made of clay and the round symbols are connected with each other resembling the way in which a text is composed. Although they are made in slightly different shapes and sizes, I feel a sense of harmony and flow while moving my eyes from one group of characters to another.

I touch the clay symbols carefully, and to my great surprise, they are just loosely attached to each other. I can even create my own text by arranging the symbols differently.

“There is a lot of flexibility in terms of composing the characters”, Bylund points out, “I have the freedom to put the characters together in the way that feels right to me in a particular context. It reflects how language works in the sense that words are arranged purposefully to express the various meanings that are intended.”

Bylund is fascinated by all types of handwriting that are incomprehensible. In other words, it is not the meaning of a text or a particular sentence that drives her but rather the way in which the script is presented. She is aware that a message is almost always conveyed in a text, however, unwrapping it is not her primary concern. What draws her attention is the visual impression a text creates, the script, the lines, the graphics, the form and the rhythm.

“When encountering a text, I am almost immediately drawn to the lines. What interests me is the visual rhythm of words, the way in which letters are made of dashes and arcs. Viewing texts in this way works best with letters I do not know the sound of, or words that are incomprehensible to me. My central focus will then be on the shape of lines and how the characters are connected with each other. It becomes a drawing that is not made with the intention to look good. It reflects spontaneity rather than fineness. Every character has a purpose and is placed according to the rules of language.”

The artist has a deep fascination for the energy and personality that are revealed by a script. "You cannot fake your handwriting, and by studying the handwritten lines, it is possible to get an idea of the person behind it. Is this person a slow or quick writer? Is he or she in a hurry while making the note? You will most likely get a hint through the script.”






















In one of the displays, abstract lines are formed with black clay . The work consists of three lines hanging horizontally in the corner of the gallery with the light creating shadows and reflections on the wall behind, contrasting the hanging sculptures. Through the work, the artist has recreated the experience of reading a text that she is unable to understand, and the viewers are given the opportunity to make their own reflections.

Bylund aims to pursue an artistic freedom by focusing on naturalness and honesty rather than perfection and fineness. Thus, she prefers to stop working on an object before it is considered completed.





This incompleteness is easy to spot in her works. The lower part of the sculpture above is made of unfired clay in black, contrasting the finished lines in white.  


When being asked to come up with three keywords that define her art, Bylund mentions “playfulness”, “spontaneity”, and “abstraction”. If we look carefully, all the three qualities are reflected in her works.

It is always fascinating to walk into the mind of an artist. By studying Bylund´s works, we can recognise the relationship between language and art. Instead of devoting all our attention to the meaning of a text, we should probably start looking at the dashes and arcs that form the language. It is in the interrelationship between the two aspects that the real magic lies. What do you think?