Martine Poppe : Waiting for Y

21 June - 20 July 2019 London

Private View: 20th of June, 6:30-9pm 


How do we make sense of our world when its in a state of flux? And how do we as individuals develop a stable sense of self? These are the anxieties at the core of ‘Waiting for Y’ Norwegian artist Martine Poppe’s latest solo exhibition at Kristin Hjellegjerde London. The title projects an imaginary algebraic equation whereby ‘Y’ equals the unknown in a transitory period of time, and the artworks themselves are the products of ‘waiting’. As such, Poppe’s collection of paintings and sculptures are delicately suspended between the tactile and the unreachable, the familiar and the distant, the personal and the universal.


Our eye catches a glimpse of what appears to be an image of material, painted with luscious texture, hidden beneath grids of orderly coloured lines. Influenced by an ancient story by Roman author Pliny the Elder, Poppe presents us with illusory artworks, in which we are deceived by materiality. Whilst we first approach these works as two-dimensional paintings, closer inspection reveals the physical presence of actual fabric. These are fabrics collected by the artist on her travels, containing the personal memories of her experiences and journey through time. ‘I found that being enveloped by the texture, smell and tactility of fabrics is comforting to me. They function like an anchors, grounding me and creating a sense of familiarity no matter where I am and no matter what the situation,’ says Poppe. And yet, whilst we are able to realise the tactility of the material, we are kept at a distance as viewers. We are denied the resolution of our sensory impulse to reach and find ourselves instead transported into the true articulation of waiting: a limbo state.


‘Whilst I was waiting for the ‘y’ of my metaphoric equation to become known, I allowed the constrictions and incredible opportunities of happenstance to dictate where I would be in the world and who I would be there with,’ says the artist. ‘As these experiences unfolded, I recorded them by using the colours and textures of each new situation. These situations could be ubering through my London neighbourhood, seeing a tree with blue flowers blooming in amongst all the red brick council houses. Or it could be waking up on my studio sofa in Oslo to discover that everything beyond my window has become covered by snow.’ These poetic encounters are what determined the colouring of each of Poppe’s artworks, imbuing each piece with spontaneous perspective, and therefore, countering our fear of the unknown by revealing its potential as a catalyst for creation and discovery.


Poppe’s sculptures for this exhibition are formed from scrunched up blurred photographs, specifically taken during this period of working. Whilst the artist’s sculptural works were previously made from the same photographic imagery as her paintings, functioning as a three-dimensional draft of the finished work, these new sculptures stand separate to those hanging on the walls. Yet, like the draped fabrics, the sculptures also hold the presence of the artist’s body in their shape and size, thus making the artistic process transparent to the viewer. The physical act of sculpting, again articulates an attempt to bring shape to amphorous, to find stability in the temporary, to create an ‘anchor’. It is through recognition of this desire for order and control that the work speaks to the universal, communicating ‘an example of what it is to be a person now, enveloped by impermanence and seeking to find familiarity in the unknown.’ In this way, Poppe regards the artworks as ‘a form of portraiture’, both revealing her personal response and inviting viewers to contemplate on their own presence in the world.