12. mars - 30. mai 2010

 Ove Harder Finseth (b.1965) is a fashion designer, tailor and sculptor. The decorative corsets that he is exhibiting in a specially-composed installation in the Nøstetangen Room are functional, but which are presented here to be observed, temporarily detached from their use, but not removed from the phenomenology of fashion and feminine beauty.

Textile art is medium-specific. It is characterised by the flexible materials and varied crafting techniques that have been specially developed due to the demands of the material and the user’s needs. Textiles are used as a covering, both to hide and to decorate. The contemporary artistic use of textiles has taken a number of different directions, such as fashion or tapestries, or sculptures and installations. Ove Harder Finseth (b.1965) is a fashion designer, tailor and sculptor. The decorative corsets that he is exhibiting in a specially-composed installation in the Nøstetangen Room are functional, but which are presented here to be observed, temporarily detached from their use, but not removed from the phenomenology of fashion and feminine beauty.

The corsets are hung from the ceiling; we can see that the objects’ forms may be regarded as abstract, but it is quickly apparent that they should form shells around a woman’s bust and waist. Textile’s relationship to the body – and our Western culture is particularly concerned about female bodies – was an important issue as long ago as Antiquity. The degree of development, from archaic Greek to high classical style, is evident in how freely sculptors succeeded in shaping a three-dimensional female body and how naturally the thin fabrics flow and fold, highlighting the perfect body that is wearing them. It moved from stiff, frontal figures and geometrically carved fabric garments to lush bodies with veiling textiles that show the movement of the air and limbs. In the Parthenon sculptures, as they can now be seen in the British Museum in London, this is visible in its ultimate form. The perfect rapport between the female body and fabric exemplifies our ideals, an enduring view of beauty.

This link between physical feminine beauty and the expressiveness of textiles continues into the present day and is the founding theme of Finseth’s decorative corsetry. These artistically designed and decorative garments are some of the most intimate artefacts imaginable. Decorative garments are sensual symbols, effective signals in provocative interaction between the sexes and, not least, an important indicator in communication between women; the admiration a woman desires for her beautiful clothing should be just as much from other women as from men. They are not the feathered displays of birds’ mating games, but a sophisticated, fully-formed signal system that is used in public. 

Ove Harder Finseth works in what is traditionally called the feminine sphere. His sensitivities have their roots in the Rococo, and perhaps particularly from La Belle Epoche, the period around 1900 that celebrated feminine grace and beauty to a degree of which history had never seen the like.  He has an extraordinary talent for ornamentation, creating fabulous, stunningly beautiful decorations on textile surfaces, shaped according to the lines and curves of the female body. Ornaments and embroidered, three-dimensional décor winds up and around the side of the garment, Jugend-style, like a lily on a glass vase or the jewelled metal garlands and flower wreaths that characterise the female form in paintings by Gustav Klimt. The decorations we can see on the corsets, in the form of sequins, crystals, metallic thread, flowers or feathers, is balanced by and perfects feminine beauty. It role is that of a subliminal erogenous zone.  

Ove Harder Finseth is an artist who is faithful to his medium and his metier. The fabrics and sparkling strass are his paints and his palette. Scissors, pins and needles are his brushes. Paying homage to the world’s excesses and its beauty has long been one of art’s honoured traditions. The majority of contemporary artists do not pay visual beauty particularly great attention. These gems are a counterbalance to this; they are also an alternative to – and something other than – pop fashion, techno fashion, street fashion, casual wear, shabby chic, Marimekko, Unisex or bluestocking frumpiness. This is textile art that focuses on premieres, opening nights and parties.

The great thing about the Nøstetangen Room is that it represents – among many other things – a reservoir, even a reserve – in which sensual, erogenous beauty is allowed to be itself. This exhibition shows how the late 1700s elegant design and décor – in glass, silver and faïence – can still create responses in a unique mode of expression. The movements of 1700s décor have a nerve that is still active, one that reaches out to and is caught up in the uniquely designed corsets in this exhibition. Each sculpture is astounding, each with its own colours and decorations, in which the various elements meet to make a single and complete entity.
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Ove Harder Finseth graduated from the Norwegian National Academy of Craft and Art Industry (1997) and has a diploma from the Ecole Chambre Syndicale de Couture in Paris (1993). He has worked at Christian Lacroix in Paris and been employed by Kjell Torheim in Oslo. He has had his own studio in Grünerløkka, Oslo, since 1998. Finseth works on collections for exhibitions, shows and commissioned works for clients. He created HRH Crown Princess Mette-Marit’s bridal gown in 2001.

Ove Harder Finseth has participated in a number of exhibitions and his works have been bought by the Museum of Decorative Arts and Design in Oslo and the National Museum of Decorative Arts in Trondheim, among others. He has been awarded several prizes, including the Oslo City Culture Award, first prize from the Comité Colbert for Givenchy in Paris, Fashion Award, Designer of the Year 2000 and the main prize at the Oslo Fashion Awards 2010.
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