The Art of Mona Orstad Hansen

Mona’s work is bold, abstract and in some cases difficult. She is trying to straddle the vast divides between art, architecture and nature. More often than not, she does this with absolute class and beauty, creating works that are joyous, colourful, engaging and a feast for the eyes.

Copyright Anders Minge

Copyright Anders Minge

Nature Breaking Through 2010, acrylic on canvas, 160 x 190

Nature Breaking Through
2010, acrylic on canvas, 160 x 190

Structures By The Sea 2011, acrylic on canvas, 169 x 205

Structures By The Sea
2011, acrylic on canvas, 169 x 205

Hansen combines architecture and nature using vibrant neon colour and abstraction. Then she adds a dash of unruly emotional elements that opens her works to a myriad of interpretations.

From her home in Stavanger, Mona talks to me about her childhood, her art and her addiction to Grand Designs.

What do you remember of your childhood and how do you think it had influenced your art?
My grandfather’s brother and his wife were both painters and we visited them in their studio during the summertime. Their cabin was on the coast, in Jæren. Many painters have been inspired by the flat landscape and wide sky there, with its special costal light. It was a small cabin that was filled with art. For me this seemed like the perfect life. It made a great impression on me.

How did you first come to painting?
When I started at Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen it was necessary to specialise. I chose fine art printmaking, but in the end I was mostly making painterly mono-prints. However, it was when I went to Berlin after art school that I really started painting. I was drawn to the possibilities of painting with acrylics, up until then I had been working with oil colours. Painting is such a direct medium and it draws my attention. If I go too long without being able to paint I get restless.

How would you describe your artwork in your own words? What is the message you are trying to get across?
In my paintings there's an ongoing investigation of what is possible within the canvas. This is the most important aspect for me, to keep investigating and being curious. The paintings are mainly abstract but there are elements of nature and architecture. I'm interested in the unruly elements of nature that cannot be controlled. I would like to express this in my work.

What is your approach when you create a new artwork?
I have to start the process and give it time to develop. I might have an idea of a direction where I would like it to go, but there is a point when the work is entirely unpredictable. The painting actually starts "informing" me of what it needs. This is a great point in the process.

You are now a well-established artist. Does it become harder to find inspiration for new projects? What parts of your life do you draw inspiration from?
I don't find it harder to find inspiration. A friend of mine said I go into “sponge mode”, being completely open to absorb new ideas. I find, when I am looking for something I start finding it. Basically inspiration can come from anywhere and it often surprises me. I take a lot of photos and this is my visual archive of inspiration.

If you weren't an artist, what would be your dream job?
I think being an architect is something I could have enjoyed. There is a program on television that I'm completely hooked on called Grand Designs with Kevin McCloud, where you follow people as they build their dream home. It’s very interesting to follow.

Mona is a resident artist with the Nordic Artists Centre (NKD). Her current projects include a collaboration entitled “The Visual Art Tour”, and preparation for a full exhibition next autumn. Her seemingly boundless energy and desire to create will inevitably be the source of more beautiful and thought-provoking works in the future.



Words: Annie Ferguson
All images of artwork are the intellectual property of Mona Orstad Hansen