«The great artist of tomorrow will go underground.»
This text begins and ends with Trude Semb’s paintings. In function is to meet her paintings and change place with them. Therefore it has to exist and function physically and emotionally; in other words materially.
Lately Trude Semb’s framework have started to expand. Earlier the framers embraced every motives as if protect the figures and their development- which is the theme of every work.
Over the years there have been a number of asylum seekers who have sought refuge in her works. Then, one day, the framework burst and expanded.
On the canvas and around the characters, a scene room came into existence. This happened of course as a result of the artist’s own resolution. But how does the artist make her decision? It is the painting, not the language that governs. Thus, the resolution lies in the work itself. When the scene room in the artist’s new paintings has been discovered, it is impossible to let it go. From the moment the decision to expand have been made and displayed, it also creates a context for her previous work.
A trained eye is not required to fathom the fundamental ambiance in the painter’s previous works: I am mainly referring to the aspect of time in the characters she has development. Her figures have one thing in common: they are waiting.
The tight framework is transient. It was never permanent. Still the new scene room is not susceptible to pre-emptive inspection. We are left with anticipation. Where do Trude Semb’s characters come from? And where are they headed?
Her previous works revolvers around this theme. We are behind the scene- in spaces between the rooms, lost in a labyrinthine green room participants are waiting between the sets, changing skin.
They are in the midst of the transformation and now we understand that the framework never has an enclosure, but a tear, a piece of broken glass, a diaphragm to provide depth and clarity for a still life- materially and emotionally. An infinite series: they are waiting.
We are waiting, When the scene room opens up in the painter’s more recent work, the relationship between the beholder and the painting begins in a new spatial relation. The frame is no longer a tear or a dream window, but a stage.
As spectators we are born anew: we do not preform singularly but in a herd. We are not lured into an intimate contact with the painter’s character gallery, but resurrected as a theatre audience, or as the stage room’s fourth wall.
We are no longer victims of the direction of the figures’ gaze and where their gazes meet somewhere in the room- detached or up close: the new scene room creates visual questions of a different nature.
What is hidden in the depth of the room that now has opened up? What consequences will arise if the time of transformation is portrayed in the open scene room where the painter’s figures now are visible for everyone’s inquiring look?
What mythical figures, nightmares and totems will pour out from the depth of the stage? Maybe the French dramaturge Antonin Artaud can come to our rescue: “Art does not imitate life, but life is an imitation of a transcendental principle that art puts us in communicative association with” (my translation).
The filosopher Jacques Derrida comments (my translation): The art of the theater must [consequently] be the original privileged arena for the destruction of imitation (…) the theatre must act on the same level as life. Not individual life, with regard to the aspect where the characters triumph, but as a sort of a free life that sweeps over the human individuality, in which man does not constitute more than a mere reflection.
If this passage should give a precise description of the expectations that are brought to life when Trude Semb’s early frameworks first burst open in order to expand in her later works, it is still something totally different and unexpected that takes place.
There is a figure roaming in the depth of the painter’s scene room. I call him Radovan d’Arck. He is neither flat or rounded, nor tangibly present among the other figures. All we see is his silhouette and the pierced surface.
For some he is the dancing aristocrat. Trude Semb calls him the Architect. To me Radovan d’Arck is therefore an architect. He is the architect of dusk and dawn. He has drawn and created a space where heaven and earth come in from the sides.
On a horizontal level, that is. When heaven and earth were pulled into the room from the sides, some time in the beginning of the universe we are here talking about, at the very same time, heaven and earths place, at the top of the bottom, became available.
In this mythical borderland between motive and beholder did Trude Semb’s universe begin with a radical questioning of what is up, and what is down, what is elevated and what is base, in order to safeguard the constant encryption into new relations.
This dimension has been present all along as a dominating force in her works. Still the more recent works represent a new experimental and reflecting turn in her artistic work
From my point of view therefore it is exciting that an archive already exists – a living archive: the artist`s personal possession , in which the origin of Radovan d’Arcks life and work exists. He will develop and leap into full consciousness through the artist’s visual world
“Above everything else[this art] has been marked by the representional work in which the confirmation of life allows itself to be undermined by the negation.”(Derrida about Artaud).
It is in this context that I perceive Trude Semb as an underground painter: meaning that she lives in a time when painting has become an underground work, and because she, in her work- in developing motifs and framework- has created a protocol for this.
Her studio is an “eagle’s nest” at Røyken, perched on a steep hill overlooking the Drammensfjord. Her painting is not coded. Somewhere between the hands and the eye in Trude Semb’s artistic work music come to existence and is communicated : mainly Jazz and Rock. This medial section in her artistic world is important because it provides the accsess to her work with a distinct form.