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Takeover #214 Arno Westerberg

Arno Westerberg: Instagram / Website

#214 (03/10 - 07/10, 2022) written by Robin Speijer, interview by Joris Broekhoven

A set of four bright blue eyes on a single face, looking directly at us. A large ghostly white hand seemingly trying to take hold of something we can’t see. The paintings of Arno Westerberg are quite mysterious at first glance. This past summer of 2022 he graduated from the HKU Fine art department. Before that, he spent a short period of time working with traditional printmaking techniques in his home country of Finland. Right before he graduated from the HKU, he was invited to do a residency at Studio Omstand in Arnhem, where he is currently involved in a duo exhibition with Larissa Esvelt called ‘Beneath the Undergrowth’.

“Since I graduated, I thought a lot about what it means to be an artist and to make art. I think painting is about communication and connection, it is in itself an interaction. Person A does something, and person B sees it. At best, it does something with person B. As this is my profession, I don’t just do it for myself, but also for others. Also I know this is what I do best”

Inspiration can come from many different places for Arno. It could be a foot, some dust in the corner of a room, or a piece from another painting. During the residency he did at Omstand, there were a lot of moths and insects flying around, which resulted in him painting them. He often uses very bright colors, but usually only one or two different ones per painting.

“I wanted to paint because I felt a necessity for color. Colors are more than just beautiful or ugly, they have an existence that in itself is very hard to reach. I use them as a tool, on purpose, often ones I feel resistance for.”

Each painting Arno makes also inspires the next. Certain forms are recurring in his paintings, like eyes and hands. The meaning of them transforms with each painting. They are about collecting, touch, contact, but also about the other possibilities that hands have, such as painting itself. Arno can contain many different desires, fantasies and fears within his paintings, but he realizes that simultaneously the viewer also has their own interests, and so too does the painting itself.

“The hands, they are some kind of love songs. In them imperfections are beautiful and time slow. The hands I paint are a little bit too big. They aren’t in control, and in that way also vulnerable. They can’t catch everything that’s floating around them, as they’re too big for their fragile environment. I try to make my paintings honest and stay sensitive, and at best that comes through to the viewer.”

During his takeover, Arno will show us the goings on of his current exhibition at Omstand, but also what his graduation show was like. We will also get a look into the art and artists that inspire him, and other works from his time at the HKU.

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