Line and Tempo
Kristin Romberg’s nomadic
By Kate Mothes
In a cavernous, disused shipbuilding hall on the island of Kråkerøy in Fredrikstad, Norway, Kristin Romberg‘s expansive paintings greet the soaring ceilings and flutter in the air. For the past two summers she has utilized the space as a studio and locus of experimentation, scaling up her vibrant abstract paintings and taking advantage of the open plan to incorporate immersive participation. “The room is enormous, but for me it feels just right,” she says. “It is silent, and it is room for my thoughts and my energy.”
The shipyard was established in 1870, and in 1970, it remained a thriving industrial area where 2,500 workers were employed to build maritime vessels. Less than twenty years later, it had closed entirely. In 2021, Romberg was searching for a new room to install her paintings, which are often suspended curtain-like from cables attached to the side walls so that they respond to visitors’ movements. People are allowed to touch the paintings, which Romberg feels is an important aspect of experiencing the work in different spaces. “I want them to feel a little magic and have a moment to breathe, think, and just be,” she says.
While she was working in the hall in 2021, two devastating events occurred: the loss of a good friend to a sudden heart attack, and shortly after, the loss of the artist’s mother. “In the wake of this, I started to make those large-scale paintings,” she says. “I painted in grief and to honour these two important people in my life.” Vibrant pinks, yellows, and greens glow on the surfaces of raw canvas, nodding to flowers and leaves, the sun, stones, and the sea.
“I want them to feel a little magic and have a moment to breathe, think, and just be.”
The distinctive characteristics of a variety of spaces are significant for Romberg, who only has access to the shipyard in the summertime and embraces a nomadic migration between two other spaces in Fredrikstad. In the winter, she works in a small room inside a house shared with 11 other artists and a space she calls the Project Room, “which is my favourite room with beautiful light,” she says. She also spends some time at a small farm in Lofoten, north of the Arctic Circle, where the dramatic landscape and quietude offer an escape from more urban surroundings. “It is very exotic here, with almost no people and just stunning nature with high mountains going straight from sea level,” she says.
Romberg has worked around the world and is fascinated by the influence that changes in space and geography can have on the work. She says, “I research how place and space affects my work and what happens when I move geographically. I have worked in Africa, Costa Rica, Italy, France, and Spain, and every time I move, new colors, lines, and tempo occur. This also happens when I go North. I have a goal to work all over the world in different spaces and places, outside and inside in different rooms, opening for new influences and adding new layers in my work.”
Romberg has been collaborating with a musician who makes what she describes as a “sound image” of her work, and they hope to be able to invite audiences to participate this summer. You can find more of the artist’s work on her website and Instagram.
“The room is enormous, but for me it feels just right. It is silent, and it is room for my thoughts and my energy.”
All images © Kristin Romberg