Past exhibition


29. April – 29. October 2023 kl. 11.00–17.00


Works by Ida Ekblad. Photo: Vegard Kleven.

The exhibition COPY PASTE explores the integration of text in contemporary artworks whilst reflecting on the arbitrary nature of linguistic signs and questioning the origin and interpretation of text and image. In a time where computer-generated content threatens the authenticity of the written word, the theme of the exhibition embraces the zeitgeist whilst offering an arena to exhibit a selection of the most iconic works from the Christen Sveaas Art Foundation.

The concept draws a thread between key works from the foundation with acclaimed and art historically important artists such as Andy Warhol, Martin Kippenberger, and Robert Rauschenberg, whose iconic works dissolve the boundary between text and image, showing that the image and the word are both modes of communication, and are therefore of the same nature.

Ed Ruscha’s works redefine the vision of American scenery through his landscapes and text-based works that explore the formal elements of printed text and its fluid relationship to the visual image. Lari Pittman's complex paintings based on an abundance of signs and symbols can be described as semantic, creating a kind of linguistic system within painting. Meshes of lines, shapes, colour fields, shadings and image layers combine to form a greater whole, building up its own cosmos of meaning in the same way language uses characters, words and sentences to weave a fabric of meaning with endless levels of understanding.

See a video presentation of the exhibition here:

Matias Faldbakken’s Untitled (Salinger walking away from the interview with Betty Eppes, June 13, 1980) examines the interplay between text and image and analyses how the careful manipulation of both operate within the artworks to evoke a strong emotional response that can be attributed to the enigmatic co-mingling of fact and fiction.

Cerith Wyn Evan’s visually brilliant work ONCE A NOUN NOW A VERB chandelier work blinks out words and sentences in Morse code, and the resulting cryptic messages are transcribed onto a nearby monitor, challenging the relationship between communication, literature and visual language.

Cerith Wyn Evans

Cerith Wyn Evans, 'Once a Noun, Now a Verb…', 2005. Courtesy Christen Sveaas' Art Foundation. Photo: Vegard Kleven.


The integration of text in artworks has been prevalent throughout art history, with examples dating back to ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics and medieval illuminated manuscripts. Text has been used both as a decorative element and also to convey meaning, from providing a literal description of the subject matter to adding a layer of metaphorical complexity.

In contemporary art, text in artworks takes on an added layer of meaning as the authenticity of the text becomes a subject of exploration. In a world where we are bombarded by information, artists use text to challenge the viewers understanding of subliminal messaging, what is real and comment on issues such as power, gender, and consumer culture.

The exhibition will introduce important international artists from the Christen Sveaas Art Foundation to Kistefos’ visitors whilst challenging the viewers to think more critically about the information we consume and the power of visual language to shape our understanding of the world.