Ida Ekblad

Selected Works


acrylics and puff paint unprimed cotton canvas, wooden stretcher
190 x 150 cm.; 74 3/4 x 59 in.

‘Given her interest in literature, words are important to Ekblad’s works in several ways. For many years she has written poetry herself, and words often feature in her works in very concrete respects […] In addition, many of her works have poetic titles. “Many of the poems have sprung from the situation of working intensely in one specific place or period. It’s a matter of condensing the atmosphere, the smells and the images I have in my head at such times. Since I’m so allergic to saying clearly what I'm working on at any one time, writing poetry has become my form.”

Many of her texts refer to her works, but sometimes they contain biographical references or are based on words she has found, for example, on a lottery ticket found on the street in Paris.
She always writes in English, because she prefers the situation of being, as she puts it, a “stranger in the language.”
“I can taste words. I get very physical when I read poetry. For me text can be something very sculptural.”’

K. Bulie, ‘Creating happiness’, in The Norwegian Art Yearbook, 2015

Sun-bewildered Tempered Tantrummed (Kons) (Constellations)

various media
each door: 261 x 138 x 5 cm.; 102 3/4 x 54 3/8 x 2 in.
each pole: 240 x 8 x 8 cm.; 94 1/2 x 3 1/8 x 3 1/8 in.
width: 50 cm.; 19 3/4 in. (including welded metal foot)
footer: 3.5 x 350 x 50 cm.; 1 3/8 x 137 3/4 x 19 3/4 in. (with wooden panel)
Photo: def image

‘[…] those gates, gateways or portals that absorb both the surroundings from which they are assembled and that infuse and twist the materiality of the gaze and sensation on which they hinge – without criteria as they ask for no ticket of entry but intensely race through the matrixes of sensation. Cast metal, the shiny gloss of the parade, the transubstantiation of metallic debris into non-sensical lettering. The letters on top of the gates only resemble “real” letters, they take on the form of letters, as the construct they are placed on top of resemble the next level of entry, but there is no ‘beyond’ the gates in other words. They do not reduce reality. For that matter: they do not relate, or relay, reality either. The motto of the entry gate, the portal, is itself pure material semblance: a permanent racing through. Imagine what kind of mnemotechnical lexicon these shapes and forms, resembling letters, resembling human shapes, resembling dance, would have to carry?’

P. J. Amdam, ‘The alien art of IDA EKBLAD’, in Kaleidoscope, no. 23, February 2015


acrylic and oil on gessoed linen
220 x 180 cm.; 86 5/8 x 70 7/8 in.

‘The surrounding walls were hung with uniformly rectangular canvases whose fat slicks of colour Ekblad had garbled by running backward and forward over them with the trolleys, whose rubber wheels had been carved with lines of poetry. Poetry is key to Ekblad’s work – the song indivisible from the dance. She selects words for their sounds and forms with the recklessness that comes from not writing in your mother tongue.’

A. Sherlock, ‘Ida Ekblad: Museum of Contemporary Art, Oslo’, in Frieze, no. 158, 2013

Installation view, Ida Ekblad "The Root Cellar"

Vleeshal, Middelburg, The Netherlands 2013
Photo: Leo van Kampen

‘[…] a hulking, crashing collection of shopping trolleys, each laden with scraps of metal, spread out across the hall like some deranged herd out to pasture. Ekblad is a tireless pillager of scrap heaps and her welded sculptures invest the contorted debris of industrialization with a sense of used-up beauty. Trolleys are chief props in the drama of consumption, and these works can’t help but comment on the voracious appetites of consumerism and the material reality of what it discards, but they are also practical things if you are an artist hauling a lot of scrap metal across town. Those vessels, with their bloated bellies, drag their stories with them, perform their own production as art works. Ekblad has used trolleys for several years in what she has called ‘drifts’ (after the Situationists’ dérives) – long wanders through the cities where she works, gathering local detritus for new pieces.’

A. Sherlock, ‘Ida Ekblad: Museum of Contemporary Art, Oslo’, in Frieze, no. 158, 2013


acrylic and acrylic based air brush ink on unprimed cotton canvas
180 x 140 cm.; 71 x 55 1/4 in.
Photo: def image

‘[…] the emergence of a certain phantasmagorical creature, a gentle looking little alien of sorts that seems blown and air-brushed into a puffy life-form, quantum-mechanically assembled through various un-identifiable archival figures, from cartoons and graffiti to sports stars, mascots, children’s books, the hang time of a certain number 23, and a seemingly endless flow of distinct and indistinct viral shapes. 

[…] The artist herself reveals that the use of heat guns, airbrush, puffy ink, and the emergence of shapes and lines that reverberates the visuals and hieroglyphics of graffiti could never have come into being with-out her relentlessly working through different viscosities, difficulties, and substances necessary to unravel and explicate imprints, visual and emotive genomes, that have been there all along.’

P. J. Adam, ‘Ida Ekblad - A day of toil among its ruins’, in Mousse Magazine, 2014

Osp, Rogn og Sejie

water soluble oil paint on canvas, in three parts
each: 103.2 x 83.2 cm.; 40 5/8 x 32 3/4 in.
Photo: Andy Keate

‘The line of descent usually provided for Ekblad's painting runs the gamut of historical expressionism, prominently featuring American Abstract Expressionism and invariably citing CoBrA in general and Asger Jorn in particular, an understandable predilection given her Nordic provenance. Other precedents might as easily be cited, however, including post-war Paris School tachisme – there is as much Poliakoff as Pollock to be divined in certain paintings, if one were so inclined. A reductive description of Ekblad's paining to date might distinguish two contrasting modalities, which remain distinct despite being frequently deployed together in hybrid fashion in the same painting. The first is darkly tonal and composed of soft-edged, loosely interlocking or overlapping patches of colour executed with swift strokes of a lightly loaded brush, the paint seeping  and staining into the unprimed canvas.’

G. Del Veccio, ‘Pure Energy, Deep Poetry’, in Mousse Magazine, 2010

In Exile from the Mineral Kingdom

Youtube videostill

‘Exile From the Mineral Kingdom is the title of a video I shot at a government-run metal scrapyard in Oslo where I sometimes climb the fences to collect iron for sculptures. […] I get a kick out of ascending this inverted netherworld. The sound of metal crushing under my feet, combined with the fear of drowning or being slit open by all the knifehard edges it offers. The curiosity in discovering unusual pieces, and the investigation of them in various combinations later on. Then finally welding the pieces together, much in the same manner as connecting words and sentences in a poem, each piece embodying its own associations, from prior use, colour, shape and patina. Some shapes rhyme, some reject each other, etc.’

G. Del Veccio, ‘Pure Energy, Deep Poetry’, in Mousse Magazine, 2010

The Gold Bug Drift (Christiania) Chair

cast concrete, found mixed media

‘Moving on to the sculptures Ekblad produced in the wake of such photo-based works, we find that destructive negation gives way somewhat to constructive recuperation or recasting. […] During the “drifts” (her term) Ekblad went scouting for waste materials in New York (largely at Rockaway Beach) and in London (mostly around Clapham), in turn. Choice concoctions of incongruous materials – a bent stanchion, a frayed length of rope, a beat-up metal dish, a forlorn panel of kitchen tiles etc. - are wrenched from this scavenged detritus and forced into precariously free-standing, arhythmic harmony, or embedded in bucket-shaped bases of quick-drying concrete. In spite of Ekblad’s instinctive command of persuasive sculptural form, much of this work resembles the mashed-up residue of a decidedly slapdash archaeological dig focused on the very recent past.’

C. Mac Giolla Léith, ‘I.E.’, in Ida Ekblad. Poem Percussion, exh. cat., Bergen: Bergen Kunsthall, 2010, p. 8 and 10

Political Song for Jessica Simpson to Sing

black&white print on paper, chewing gum
175 x 125 cm.; 68 7/8 x 49 1/4 in.

‘First, a cursory account of Ekblad's contribution to the Younger Than Jesus Art Directory, a publication accompanying last year's much-discussed survey show at New York’s New Museum, touted by its publishers as “The essential handbook to the future of art”. […] For an artist who studied in L.A. as well as Oslo this seems less like the behaviour of an insolent tourist than a mischievous biting of a hand that feeds her. Certain characteristics that have come to typify Ekblad’s working methods are already in evidence here, including the apparently arbitrary, but in fact geographically and culturally localized casting around for raw materials, followed by the irreverent mutation, if not mutilation of same. In these particular works this transformation is couched in terms of a defacement, destabilization, or degradation of American commodity culture, with a distinct tendency towards negation.’

C. Mac Giolla Léith, ‘I.E.’, in Ida Ekblad. Poem Percussion, exh. cat., Bergen: Bergen Kunsthall, 2010, p. 5 and 8

All works: © Ida Ekblad

Image courtesies:
Monster's Blood: Courtesy of the artist and Kunsthalle Zürich
Tortoise With a Sail and Sportswear: Courtesy of the artist and Museo Tamayo