Exhibiting both established and emerging contemporary artists, the leading gallery Golsa has become well known for its vision to present the art scene to a younger audience. Photographed over two occasions, firstly at the GIFC event and then during the Hverdagskost exhibition, the pictures show how Tuva T. Trønsdal and Gard Eiklid are utilising Golsa to contribute to a more inclusive art community.
Special thanks to Tuva for sharing a bit more about the gallery and its history.
There is a number of galleries in Oslo, yet Golsa attracts a younger crowd. Why has it been a goal to attract the youth and get them interested in contemporary art?
It is a natural focus to attract a young crowd since we are both young gallerists and exhibit mostly emerging artists. Neither Gard Eiklid, nor myself, come from families with a tradition of collecting art, I think this plays an important role in our mission to predicate the joy of art and collecting for a new segment. The art world took us by storm and is, everyday, filling our lives with so many great experiences. It is all those special meetings between you as viewer and the interaction with art that you often can’t explain with words. The search for those moments is almost like an addiction for both Eiklid and myself.
When it comes to collecting art, Norway is still a young country, for the good and bad, but there is still a lot of governmental funding and art related investments. I really believe and hope that the next generations will see the value of a rich cultural scene, as I strongly believe it will be more important in the future for people to see the world from a different point of view. Therefore, we strive to motivate and inspire younger generations to care and actively engage in enhancing Oslo’s cultural experiences.
By doing so are you trying to open up the doors to a more welcoming art world? Have you felt not welcome before?
We know from our own experience that some people feel intimidated when they are entering the art world and don’t feel confident enough to start a dialog. We are taught in school that we have to be able to explain our perceptions. For us, it is important to communicate that the art room is open and can be understood and interpreted in different ways – either intellectually, emotionally, or aesthetically. I can relate to the impression that some people have regarding the art industry, but this is more an old myth and I believe that times are changing.
Why is collaboration an important part of your business model?
Out of many, one reason is that by inviting other creatives into the gallery we are engaging a wider audience. We believe in a broader definition of our gallery, which gives us room for more experimentation. As such, we participate in a series of projects where we explore the gallery format together with artists, writers, designers, architects, and other creatives.
One of the collaborations was with the clothing brand HAiK w/ and the artists Toril Johannessen and Jacob Riddle in 2016. The exhibition had installations, which included sculptures, video, souvenirs, clothing, and a research publication where everything was “see now, buy now”. Our gallery space was also the venue of the fashion show HAiK w/ did with the performance artist La Porcha. During the collaboration with HAiK, we were very lucky and got introduced to Charlie Roberts.We decided to do a solo show with him in the beginning of 2016, and since then we have not only exhibited his art, but also done collaborations with brands like Special Lemon and his project Got It For Cheap (GIFC). Charlie Roberts started GIFC with his business partner Chris Rexroad, and in August 2018, we hosted Got It For Cheap for the second time. 2500 people visited our gallery on this two days event. The concept is that you can buy original A4 drawings for $30. The aim of GIFC is to make art accessible and to lower the threshold for buying original artwork. Moreover, GIFC creates a platform for young artists to showcase and sell their work to a worldwide audience. This was a perfect project that really suited our philosophy. We like to look at the gallery as a living organism, and that is being developed through all the great people we have meet along our journey.
You are both young gallery founders, how do you feel this has benefited / hindered your experience so far?
As the young newcomers, we are definitely the outsiders that came unexpected. We have faced numerous challenges along the way and there are probably many more to come, but I think we also have opportunities and advantages given our situation. We do not necessarily adhere to established norms or ideas within the industry, as such, we remain perhaps more open minded than other gallerists. At our young age we are more fearless and act on intuition and guts. We usually say that since we don’t know how to run a gallery, we have a bigger chance to do something different! So for us, everything has been “learning by doing”.
How did you develop an interest in art and get the opportunity to direct a space so early in your career?
Eiklid and I have had different ways into the art world. I have known from a very young age, since I saw the “Blue Dancers” by Edgar Degas in the Pushkin collection in Moscow at the age of 14, that I wanted to work within the arts. Eiklid on the other hand developed an interest for art while he was studying economics in Bergen. He thought his studies were repetitious and decided to open his first gallery located in Bergen. Returning to Oslo, he started to plan Rod Bianco nr. 2 together with the management around Bjarne Melgaard. Eiklid approached me while I was studying art history at the university. He invited me to Sverre Bjertnes studio, most likely for a date, but after some hours talking we decided on traveling to Iran and to visit the artist Mehdi Ghadyanloo. It was on that journey we decided to start the gallery together. Our time in Iran was during Ramadan and we managed to survive the heat and lack of food for two weeks. At this point we both assumed that we could endure each other at all thinkable circumstances. Especially since I get in really bad mood when I am hungry!
You have mentioned earlier that the name change was an effort to distance yourself (somewhat) from Bjarne Meelgard and give both you and him more freedom. Has this been move been successful to you feeling more freedom in the gallery?
We had many discussions regarding the name change, when is the right time to change the name of a gallery that is just starting to get renowned? There has only been great feedback after we renamed the gallery Golsa. It feels like we are creating our own history, even though it is mostly the graphic identity that has changed. The new look of the gallery was created together with Pati Passero and Thor Merlin. They created something futuristic with clear historical references. We could not be happier with how the look turned out!
The name Golsa is inspired from our visit to Iran, when Ghadyanloo’s first daughter, Golsa was born. In its literal meaning, Golsa means ‘flower-like’, which figuratively translates into ‘beautiful’. Our trip proved to be monumental for the establishment of the gallery, hence we decided to name the gallery after Golsa. We like that the name has a meaning and a history that we can share, and at the same time does not have many associations for the Oslo citizens, so the artists are contributing to the history of our name.
As you move towards the new and young contemporary scene, which aims to be a bit more “inclusive”, how do you feel the traditional art scene has responded to this?
So far we feel that the traditional art scene has responded very positive to our direction. We have had an open dialogue with most of the established galleries from the beginning and they have been of a great support. From after parties with STANDARD (OSLO) or transport issues with good help from OSL Contemporary. Another example is the collaboration we did with the artist-driven gallery MELK that was the first exhibition after the “name change”. They presented five artists; Linn Pedersen, Emil Salto, Espen Gleditsch, Ole Martin Lund Bø, and Hannah Whitaker - all working with non-narrative photography. This exhibition proved that even though our different gallery structure and profile, we both have the same aim to present well-curated exhibition with interesting artists.
What is the process for discovering new artists and deciding if they fit the point of view of the gallery?
Golsa should be a place where you never know what to expect when you enter the gallery room. We are always seeking new artists to showcase, both local and international. The contrast of combining established artists together with emerging talents creates an interesting dynamic. It is important to remember that everything is in movement, also how we are developing as gallerist/curators and as citizen.
I find that it is always a special feeling when finding an artist that I really like. The chemistry is often hard to describe; it must be something about the artist that makes me feel a bit off or confused, mixed with a sense of curiosity. In the end, it’s just about wants to discover more, as well as establishing an interesting dialogue with the artist. The process for finding interesting and innovative minds is constant wherever we are. Whether it is on social media, pursuit of exhibitions or true connections.
Having travelled and seen art from around Europe and the world how do you feel the Norwegian scene differs?
The Norwegian art scene is a small community, with high quality, and extremely fortunate to have such a strong support from the government. Both regarding the investments of new museums and institutions, but also the funds proceedings to galleries, projects and artists. This creates a large diversity in the cultural scene. As an example, the funds gives possibilities to artist driven spaces, which is very unique compared to many other countries. At the same time I believe that there is space for more commercial galleries. By this we can build an even stronger and diverse art scene. It is all part of a cultural eco system.
All photography by Ronja Penzo