Kari Henriksen

The consolation of skies

Kari Henriksen has consistently explored the atmospheric affects of weather, changes in light, and the ephemeral nature of “these glimpsed moments in time.” The themes in Kari’s work are transience, temporality, the impact of nature on human beings and the impact of humans on nature.

Art Exhibition previously on at Catherine Asquith Gallery (Archived) in Fitzroy-Collingwood precinct, Victoria, Australia.
From Tuesday 04 September 2012 to Saturday 22 September 2012

Those soft Gippsland Skies image By the light of the silvery moon image Winter Sky image Clouded Memories image Autumn Sky image Summer Sky image Liminal Moment image Tiepolo Sky image Storm Clouds I image Storm Clouds II image Storm Clouds III image Dusk image Passing Moments I image Passing Moments II image Shepherd's Delight I image Shepherd's Delight II image Cumulus Sky I image Cumulus Sky II image Cumulus Sky III image

Published by anonymous on Thursday 30 August 2012.
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The works in this exhibition are inspired, as the title suggests, by sky, and they also celebrate light. The paintings are not simply about these things but, as the artist states, the sky and atmosphere “took over” at a certain point. In Kari’s paintings, light is filtered through cloud, rain, and air. The air itself, that most ephemeral of the material constellations, is rendered through subtle layers or veils of colour. These paintings resonate through the body, through all of the senses, rather than purely through distancing vision. The sensation that isexperienced is of light falling onto the skin, of feeling and breathing the air. These are not distant skies. The viewer looks from a point outside the painting, but viewer and painting are connected. Light falls from these skies, and the viewer receives it. This is not a mystical experience of the sublime, but a connecting and meditative one. The state of being encouraged by the artist is one in which time is stilled and a space opens up in which to dwell. For a moment, this condition of interior stillness, which for me occurs most notably in response to “Those Soft Gippsland Skies”, allows the boundaries between the observer and the observed, and the inside and the outside, to disappear. For a moment, we are aware of the nature that we ourselves are.

Romantic landscape painting often foregrounds the phenomena of atmosphere, however, the notions of both “Nature” and “Art” have become more problematic in recent times. Contemporary ecological art challenges our assumptions about both nature and art. Kari Henriksens’s work is poetic, not didactic, but by offering moments of contemplation, she allows the embodied human perceiver to rediscover what other-than-human nature means to us. The painting “Liminal Moment” is unsettling, hinting as it does at a threat to our world without explicitly stating what that threat is. The painting is not descriptive, but that sense of uncertainty implies awareness of climate change and other signs of incipient environmental collapse. Kari’s work does not overtly deal with ecological themes, nevertheless, she exhibits an ecological aesthetics that invites us to consider how we might live well under this sky and on the earth.

Kari is inspired by her Norwegian heritage, and there are strong similarities to be found historically in Norwegian and Australian landscape painting, ideas about nature and, more recently, in ecophilosophical ideas. While the paintings stem from personal experience, her work is not about localism or nationalism; it is expansive and universal. The harshness of the Norwegian and Australian landscapes has dictated the terms of human existence and created a dependence on the surrounding environment that is often reflected in painting. However, contemporary Norwegian painting often focusses less on the natural environment itself and more on human responses to landscape. Kari’s painting “Tiepolo Sky” refers to cultural history, and the direction of her future work ispossibly hinted at in the paintings that contain buildings and human figures. The buildings are visible through layers that may represent human memory and time, and by adding figures to one of the paintings, Kari recognises that art is always about the embodied human. Paintings bear witness through the eloquence of silence, but the response to painting ultimately involves meditation, then thought and interpretation.

Dr. Jennifer Coralie
Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies, Monash University
(Ecopoetics and Ecophilosophy)


Kari’s work has been selected as a finalist for numerous prize exhibitions, she has received several scholarships for overseas study and has undertaken artist residencies in both Australia and Italy. Kari has exhibited widely in solo, group and curated exhibitions, notably the Hey-Li Printmedia Festival in Seoul and Anhui University in China.

Kari is currently undertaking a PhD in the Faculty of Art and Design at Monash University where she is investigating notions of transience.

Her artwork is informed by observing and contemplating the phenomena of constantly changing light, atmosphere, seasons and weather conditions. She describes her paintings as ‘stilled’ images of moments that have now passed. Having specialized in oil and water-based painting techniques for many years, Kari has also recently explored hybrid digital printmedia processes.

Her work is held in numerous corporate and private collections around Australia including the Bundanon Trust, Monash University library, RMIT University, Budget Corporation as well as collections in Japan, Italy and USA.

All enquiries welcome: Tel: (03) 9417 2828 Email: enquiries@catherineasquithgallery.com.