Words by Alexander Norheim
Photography by Belmacz & Jon Benjamin Tallerås
Portrait by Mats Bakken
In a world where more seems to be, well, more, a Norwegian voice is cutting away the extra and turning to the essential. Welcome to Camilla Løw and her world. A place of shapes, colors and materials connecting ‘80s Bronx music with a contemporary art setting, Scottish influence and a rising Oslo scene. At times classified as modern minimalistic, Camilla Løw’s work goes beyond. Just like the cubes often seen in her exhibitions, it is honest in its simplicity, but highly intricate within the turn of its edges. With strength and attitude, Camilla challenges the public to rediscover themselves through her vision.
"Glasgow was a life-changing experience. It was a place where creativity thrived and us along with it. We didn’t really care about titles or status, it was rather a fusion of ideas, visions and style. We worked together during the day at the atelier and afterwards went on to a concert or pub. Glasgow was my calling to art," she says.
Scotland’s largest city became a nurturing home for the Norwegian artist Camilla Løw, as she explored her artistic curiosity and manifested her voice. It all began with an exhibition at The National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, where a group of exciting, new Scottish artists exhibited something that appealed to Camilla so much, it inspired her to enroll at Glasgow’s School of art, where she got a BA in Scupltured and Environmental Arts.
It all began with an exhibition at The National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, where a group of exciting, new Scottish artists were exhibiting something that appealed to her. It felt right.
The fusion of people that attended the school, working and hanging out together, created a sort of working class attitude that would shape Camilla’s eye. A shadow of London, Glasgow came with a reaction to more established art, creating a modern take of its own. After all, the purpose of art is to create a reaction in the observer.
"We wanted to make art that was handmade. The do-it-yourself message carried a punk attitude that was interesting."
Yet to Camilla, handmade carries a stronger significance. It makes her art relatable to her audience. Being able to relate is essential to Camilla as it invites people to create their own experiences and impressions through her work, piece by piece, or as a room altogether.
Even though Camilla’s essence is a modern minimalistic one, her many dialogues speak to her audience and help them understand their own feeling towards what they see.
Camilla’s work is like a cube. Honest and minimal yet multifaceted. Even if each side takes a similar space and mass, it can be different from the other one. As so, her work reflects many sides of her aesthetic. On one, you have her use of material. Her work is constructed solely from wood, steel, concrete and plexiglass.
"I love to use industrial materials. Partly to strengthen that bond with the viewer, but even more because of its relation to its urban surroundings. It’s personal."
This personal essence is another side to her ‘cube,’ as her work is often human-sized. In other words, it is made so large that all the perfections and imperfections in all the shapes and lines are exposed to the viewer. She wants to break away from the more conventional way of making art. Her art has nothing to hide, and it can be better experienced by taking part in it.
Then there’s the next side of her cube: Color.
"Colour is incredibly important to me as I want my art to be aware of its surroundings and the architecture around. You can’t achieve that if you don’t look at the location where you’re exhibiting."
Even though she only uses the primary colours of red, yellow and blue, (she does not like to mix colours), such awareness of surroundings can be seen in Camilla’s work. In Glasgow, her colours were stronger and bolder. Duller weather provokes such feeling. Yet, while working on an exhibition in San Fransisco, she found her aesthetic to be more mellow, colour-wise. The warmth of the California sun saw her turn to more pastel colours. Her art is adaptable, while maintaining its honesty.
The beauty in a cube isn’t the two-dimensional perspective of each side, but the complexity of the whole. As such, even though Camilla puts a lot of herself into each piece, she tries to work on developing the whole.
Creating a new arena, while maintaining her urban relatable essence, is a tough task at hand, yet this doesn’t bother her. –I often feel like I dance around a room while working.
This dance, that tune, that poem is what influences her. She is incredibly attracted to the Bronx beat and often finds herself thinking of ESG (Emerald, Sapphire and Gold), a post-punk band that emerged from the Bronx.
"I often think of them when I name my pieces, for example. I want my pieces to be characters. To stand on their own, to be strong by themselves but even stronger together. It is only then you create a dynamic exhibition, even if it’s in silence to the naked eye."
A customised attitude that adapts within each angle of a room and with each individual viewing of her work. Her creative process culminates in art that inspires, provokes feelings and reactions.
"It is hard to pinpoint what exactly inspires me. I’d rather say who. People making interesting art and design is inspiring. Currently, I look at Michael Olestad Nybråten’s design or I hear Nils Bech and it spurs me to create."
A beautiful thought emerges, creativity spurs creativity.
"I’ve been incredibly lucky to be able to do what I love from an early point in my career. I never took a masters because it seemed unnecessary then and there. Glasgow gave me the tools I needed to open my curiosity."
Even though Camilla has been successful with her exhibitions all over the world, her curiosity is still there. Today, as a mother of two, she still finds time to observe, get inspired and learn, no matter how limited her daily routine is. Currently based in Norway, she still has a thirst to explore.
Yet she is happy to be in Oslo, a city that she feels is getting more of an identity with many voices challenging its artistic side.
"Of course, we still need to ask more questions, react and debate, but it seems like we’re taking a step in the right direction."
Oslo becoming more aware has in turn given Camilla the recognition she deserves. Though recognition has not changed the spirit of that girl that once was swayed to move to Glasgow to discover her artistic identity. Honest and humble, Camilla’s process is not about be about where she will be in five years, but who.
"Change is obviously vital, but what’s more important is what is happening now. Remain curious and aware. It’s not about becoming bigger, but about learning your process as an artist."