Lene Kilde | Focus

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Imagination, lightness and excitement are some of the words that we readily relate back to childhood reality, as they easily fit children like tailor-made gloves. They characterize their behavior and are the basis of their play afternoons, making them little explorers of imaginary and distant lands.


First of all, imagination allows them to construct stories, those to be told and those to take part in as little actors in role-plays. Indeed, every child enjoys the fortunate situation of having at his or her disposal an inexhaustible generator of ideas from which to draw and, consequently, unlimited combinations and possibilities for organizing their afternoons. This enables children to succeed, even with few objects at their disposal, in inventing stories and engaging in endless playful activities.

Children have the ability to experience the happenings of the day lightly. Without the experience necessary to attach the proper weight and gravity to events, they are unfamiliar with the notion of risk, guaranteeing themselves a condition of life unencumbered by limits and barriers. This potential contributes to making every scenario possible, believable and realistic.

Finally, the strong predisposition for spontaneous emotion, resulting from the wonder of indulging in life with a fresh and unprejudiced gaze, makes children incurable curiosity seekers, attentive to all movements around them.

Thanks to the unconscious co-presence of these three characteristics, that of children takes the form of a free existence, the natural essence of which is skillfully captured in the sculptures of Norwegian artist Lene Kilde (Rælingen, 1981).

Each work originates from an idea or memory of the artist, spontaneously sparked by everyday scenes of the children in her life. After that, it is skillfully crafted in the sculptor’s signature materials of “concrete, wire and air.” Thus, the artist gives her children a balanced harmony of peremptoriness and looseness.

The metal mesh, woven in order to create delightful colorful little dresses, tenderly wraps the child’s limbs, which, thanks to the artist’s technical virtuosity, acquire, despite the hardness of the concrete, a softness true to nature. In some cases, the statues are accompanied by different objects, such as umbrellas, skateboards, animals and bouquets of flowers, which help set the scene and direct the visitor’s attention.

The unexpected material formulation selected for the rendering of his sculptures is realized in the artist’s choice to leave his works incomplete, without heads or other body parts, which are replaced by the void.

In fact, the ultimate goal of his artistic activity is to investigate body language in children as the purest form of communication, as it is unconscious and therefore genuine. Uncontrolled gestures betray the subject’s natural reactions and emotional state in the form of nonverbal signals transmitted without a filter. Consequently, to better emphasize the authenticity of the phenomenon in children, the artist chooses not to provide his sculptures with a head: in the absence of a face, the visitor is still able to grasp the child’s personality through the unconscious references generated by the posture and position of the hands and feet, which thus assume central relevance.

It becomes easy for the attentive observer to recognize a brave child, arms rigid along his sides and fists clenched as he tries to leap from rock to rock, from a more timid one, performing in concert, clutching a microphone, crossing his little feet.

Kilde reflects the neuralgic importance of bodily extremities within his sculptures, which are accompanied by concrete limbs. The artist chooses this material to render the gesturality of hands and feet, inscribing their natural softness on a hard support in order to trap them in a perpetual, absolute moment.

The indefiniteness of the sculpture’s boundaries contrasted with the precise line dictated by the inlay of metal wires recalls the specificities of the drawing technique, transforming the statue into the projection of an unfinished sketch. Automatically, the sculpture thus inserted into the space influences it, shaping it and making it an integral part of the narrative of the work, which becomes an art installation that captures anyone who pauses to observe.

The visitor is thus catapulted within an environment somewhere between two-dimensional and three-dimensional reality, which sheds light on the technical similarity existing between sculpture and drawing, a contrast that the artist skillfully encapsulates in his works.

The viewer is readily called upon to bring Kilde’s work to fruition through imagination and memory, attributing to the sculpture a face, imaginary or from one’s own past. The visitor is gently invited to identify with the subject represented and, dressing in the borrowed shoes of the child-explorer before him, to relive the happiest moments of his own childhood.