|About Rolf Aamot|
|By Per Hovdenakk|
|Former Director of Henie-Onstad Art Centre, Norway|
Since the early Sixties Rolf Aamot has worked with electronic media, all the while maintaining his commitment to painting, wherein lie his origins. Once again he now returns to painting. Utilising electronic media he has developed his own aesthetic, articulated through the concepts of pictorial music or illustrative orchestration. His work in this field has also impacted on his paintings, which have been holographically composed and digitally transferred to the canvas by the use of laser.
Other artists also employ such painting techniques, quite naturally in an age when new technology presents its temptations and challenges on an almost daily basis.
However, for most other artists this foray into the technological possibilities is fleeting, or at best represents recurring excursions to a new world. Rolf Aamot’s work in this field is a permanent commitment, pervading and influencing the entire body of his artistic endeavour, as well as his attitudes to society, life and death.
A painter usually works in solitude, his means simple and his essential tools unchanged for centuries. Painting is more than a stream of imagery – it is also an overwhelming tradition, an institution. An institution that can be rewarding to partake in, but also one that requires courage to break away from through the addition or alteration of key components.
Working with contemporary electronic technologies forces the artist out of the studio’s solitude, to the others, into society.
This needn’t be simple. When faced with new demands and challenges, society has the capacity to forcefully repel innovation. Rolf Aamot himself experienced strong opposition upon contacting the instances possessing the means of production and the distributive power.
These were not the institutions of pictorial art, but of film-making and the National Norwegian Broadcasting Company (NRK). Both instances met him with powerful bureaucrats, distrustful of Rolf Aamot’s drastic innovation.
He could have chosen to work in a different country with more understanding. Interest manifested in countries like the U.S. and France, both of which invited collaborations with Aamot.
Displaying his trademark obstinacy, Rolf Aamot chose to go the distance in Norway.
In time, he produced seminally important electronic works, making him a pioneer in his field and providing the groundwork for contemporary accomplishments. It has most likely been a costly endeavour.
On occasion, such as in this catalogue, Rolf Aamot has written about his work. Or rather he has written about the ideas that represent his work’s foundation, thereby formulating his life philosophy. Interacting with the world outside the studio has necessitated – and enabled – the articulation of greater thoughts, survival strategies for central human values.
The crux of the argument must be that Rolf Aamot maintains art’s ability to counteract an increasing tendency towards superficial entertainment, particularly in the fields of TV and media, but also in the field of pictorial art.
Rolf Aamot represents dialogue and conversation, as opposed to the one-way communication of the entertainment industry. This is a reflection of social awareness, explaining why he remained in Norway instead of working in a country where his work would be more appreciated. It also explains his commitment to different causes and situations where the rights and wellbeing of individuals have hung in the balance.
There is no divide between life and art in the philosophy of modernism. This is a hard demand to meet. However, Rolf Aamot doesn’t easily do things the easy way.
Published by Bergen Art Museum 1998