Hanne Lydia Opøien Figenschou

Hanne Lydia Opøien Figenschou’s works explore themes of gender and identity through the mediums of drawing, text and video, expressing a recurrent interest in the blatant and public versus the intimate. Text is employed in installations with narrative themes, as prose in the video works called ‘Video prosa’, poetry collected in books or in performance. Her last publication was titled ‘Four in One, A Book Collection’, containing 115 poems in Norwegian/English. The publication is containing, as the title states, a collection of all her published books,


In her drawings, Figenschou mainly works with colored pencils on black paper. Her works are based on snapshots taken with a smartphone. Immediacy is brought out through time-consuming techniques and blowups effectively distancing them from the digital source. From a distance, some of the drawings may seem relatively realistic, but close inspection reveals that they are made up of rough elements. In her previous works, the masked self-portrait has been a recurring theme with reference to the strategies various cultures employ for expressing identity through covering or uncovering the body. The approach can be seen as expressing the need to claim ownership of the self-portrait, which throughout art history has been the dominion of men. This culminated in the solo show ‘SELFIES’ at Bomuldsfabriken Kunsthall in 2013, the same year the word Selfie was included in the Oxford Dictionaries. The subject was later removed in her drawings so that only clothes and accessories testified to the absence. She has also examined violence in close relations, particularly the after-effects of violence. In her recent work she focuses on issues related to tourism, feminism and abortion.  Her latest works consists, among others, of the series ‘The Corona Files’. The drawings explore and visualize the subjective experience of living during a pandemic.


Hanne Lydia Opøien Figenschou (b. 1964, Trondheim, Norway) grew up in Tromsø, above The Artic Circle. She now lives and works in Oslo and Tromsø. She studied at Trondheim Academy of Fine Art, Norway, and The University of Arts, Crafts and Design, Stockholm, Sweden. Figenschou has had a large number of exhibitions, and has won several significant awards for her works. She received a prestigious ten-year Working Grant from The Norwegian Arts Council (2015). Her works have been purchased by several influential Art Institutions, among them The National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Norway and Shaanxi Museum of Fine Arts, Xi’an, China. She contributed artwork to the cruise ships Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris (2021 and 2022). She attended a residency in Roma, Circolo Scandinavo (2016) and she stayed in Paris, France, at Cité internationale des Arts, a residency made possible by Ingrid Lindbäck Langgaards Foundation, NO (2022). As from 13 October 2023 up to 31 March 2024 she is presented with a large-scale work in The National Museum, Norway, as a part of The Drawing Triennial.