Thomas Pihl
1964, Norway
Works and lives in New York, USA

Pihl derives his colors by adding layer upon layer of paint. Mixing, blending till a dominant color appears. The different layers shimmer in a distance, shadows or memories of colors that were there before and now collectively form a new color. It shows when you look at the sides of the paintings where you still see drippings and jets of color that can be traced back to the final painting. The color of the painting draws you in, it lures you to look again and again. In Pihl's work the painting itself is the center of attraction, a window to a world that is undefined but aesthetically pleasing and that refers to hidden meanings, messages from beyond the physical reality of the painting in the museum space. The painting is an object but in itself materializes meaning, contemplation.

“I think these paintings listen
as much as they speak”

I am fascinated by how contemporary culture and our lives are involved in aesthetics. We are all tuned in to absorb an extraordinary amount of visual information represented by images and all kinds of well presented commodities. To give one example: In New York there are a lot of 99-cent stores with cheap merchandise that is very creatively produced to look useful or valuable. They are fascinating to study, both for the visual information, but also for the ethical structure: Most of the commodities are “useless” and probably manufactured under circumstances not acceptable, either in relation to the workers or the environment. These products are nevertheless produced with an incredible knowledge of how aesthetic information (color/form/design) has a deep visual impact. The drive behind my artistic activity is the immense production of aesthetics western culture has developed in relation to capitalism and global expansion. Beauty and value are confused with perfection (as a representation for truth), and we are getting more and more addicted to it. I wanted to use that confusion and misunderstanding as an aspect of my intentions. I work the surface towards a very smooth quality, which is easy to mistake as only that. The work appears stress-free at first glance and looks as if it were manufactured. But the artistic tension is complex. Marks from the process, flaws and scratches from the handling, and subtle manipulations of the surface occur and become vital components of the visual contact – and therefore the experience. These veiled manipulations and the sensuality of the surface may stand as metaphors for discovery and detection, processes that provide important information concerning our personal and cultural structures – if activated.

Artist Statement

I work with color and natural light. The process to derive to a visually charged artistic result is to add layer upon layer of translucent paint. I disperse the fine pigment into a slab of acrylic medium, This not only to facilitate a vehicle for light to physically penetrate and infiltrate the surface which create a complex blend of painterly and natural light – It also creates a soup of pigment and light so intimate, that its difficult for the eye to differentiate. The layers and layers of translucent paint are laid out with almost invisible contrasts to challenge and test the eyes capacity to differentiate subtle and barely visible phenomena. I hope to both clarify and obscure the eyes ability to pin down where the experience clearly starts, and where it ends. I reduce the visual vocabularies to a seemingly monochromatic arrangement where the color and light bounce back to the eye. The grain of pigment is suspended in a slab of clear acrylic medium. This again opens up for natural light to penetrate the surface of the painting. The light occupies the translucent space between the surface and the canvas and surrounds the pigment. This visual arrangement opens the surface of the painting to the onlooker’s own vision.  My intention is to facilitate a display where eyesight - pierce the surface and bleed in through the suspended fog of pigment. The veiled manipulations and the sensuality of the surface may stand as metaphors for discovery and possible detection. 


group Exhibitions

2019 - - The Whole Picture - Sikkema Jenkins & Co, New York - PAN Amsterdam, Netherlands

• Light Lines – Scandinavia House, New York
http://www.scandinaviahouse.org/event/exhibitions/ - PAN Amsterdam, Netherlands - Art The Hague - Den Haag, Netherlands

• La Biennale di Venezia - “Personal Structures” – Venezia
• Art The Hague – Den Haag, Netherlands
• Stavanger Art Museum – “1992 - 2017” – Stavanger, Norway
• Galleri Art Affairs – Amsterdam, The Netherlands - Salone Milano  – Milano, Italy

• Trafo Kunsthall - “Nærver,Stillhet,tid,refleksjon” – Oslo, Norway
• Kunstbanken Hedmark Kunstsenter - “Non objective reality”

• Shirley Fiterman Art Center – “Diphthong”         
• Anna Wenger Gallery
• Trafo Kunsthall
• Kunstnerforbundet – “Abstraksjon 11”

• Columus State University  - “Beyond the Grid”
• Stavanger Art Museum – “Chromophilia”
• Art Stage Singapore - Galleri SE

• Art Stage Singapore - Galleri SE

• Edsvik Konsthall– “Non Figuration” – Sollentuna, Stockholm, Sweden

• 54th Venice Biennale - “Personal Structures” – Venice, Italy
• North of Norway Art Museum – “Paraleller” – Tromsø, Norway

• Bergen Kunst Museum - “Babel” – Bergen, Norway
• Kabuso  – “Sublime landscapes” – Øystese, Norway
• Peder Balke – Thomas Fearneley - Thomas Pihl - Fiona Tan
• Kunstnerforbundet – Oslo

• Galleri F 15  – “Tendenser 2009” – Moss, Norway

• Stenersen Museum – “40/40” – Oslo, Norway                                                      
• Curate.no  – “Intervall” – Bergen, Norway
• Galleri BKHF – “Crossing Borders” – Miami, USA
• Galleri F 15  - “Flater” – Moss , Norway

• Galleri SE - Bergen,  Norway
• Amsterdam Art Society - “Arti et Amicitiae” - “Personal Structures” – Nederland
• “The Collection” - Nasjonalmuseet i Oslo, Norway.         
• “The Collection” - Rogaland Kunstmuseum – Stavanger, Norway.   
• “The Collection” - Bergen Kunstmuseum – Bergen, Norway.         

• Galerie Lelong, - “About Light” – New York, USA

• Ludvig Museum - “Personal Structures” - Koblenz, Germany.                   
• Scandinavia House - “Contemporary landscapes from the collection of Her Majesty Queen Sonja of Norway” – New York, USA

Solo Exhibitions

• Kunst RAI – Amsterdam, Netherlands

• Akerhus Kunstsenter – Lillestrøm, Norway
• Gallerie Artaffairs  – Amsterdam, Netherlands

• Galleri SE – Bergen, Norway

• Gallerie Anna Wenger – Zurich
• Haus Der Kunst St. Josef – Solothurn, Switzerland

• Dagali Museum – Hallingdal, Norway

• Galleri Brandstrup – Oslo  
• Haus Der Kunst St. Josef – Solothurn, Switzerland

• Voss Kulturhus – Voss

• Kunstnerforbundet – Oslo

• Heiberg Cummings – New York

• Galleri SE – Bergen, Norway
• Galerie De Rijk – Haag, Netherlands

• Hellisøy Fyr – Fedje, Norway

• Gallery MGM – Oslo, Norway
• Galerie De Rijk – Haag, Netherlands

• Rogaland Kunst Museum – Stavanger  
• Gallery SE – Bergen, Norway

• Thomas Erben Gallery – New York


2013 – 2014     
• Lobby at “Hellern” - Art work new public Building in the center og Bergen – Norway (School and Public National Swimming Pool)

• Norsk Hydro – Lysaker, Oslo - Norway



• Norsk Hydro
• Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
• Royal Caribbean Cruise Line Art Collection
• Vass Collection, International Monochrome Painting
• Norwegian Art Council (Norsk Kulturråd)
• North of Norway Art Museum, Tromsø, Norway
• Bergen Art Museum, Bergen, Norway
• H.M. Queen Sonja of Norway
• The National Museum of Art, Oslo, Norway
• Jan Groth Collection. Rogaland Art museum, Norway
• Sparebank 1 Vest. Bergen, Norway
• Hunter College City University of New York
(Presidential  Purchase Award)

Art Education

1997 – 1999      
Hunter College City University of New York – MFA Program

1995 – 1999      
The National Academy of Fine Arts – Oslo

1994 – 1995      
School of Visual Arts – New York

1989 – 1996     
National College of Arts and Design – Oslo


Selected Bibliography

• Karlyn De Jongh – Sarah  Gold. DuMont Buchverlag
• Peter Lodermeyer – Karlyn De Jongh – Sarah  Gold. "Time, Space Existence” – DuMont Buchverlag
• “International Monochrome Painting in the Vass Collection”. Catalog
• Peter Lodermeyer "Personal Structures Symposium Ludwig Museum".
• Ken Johnson “About Light”. New York Times
• "NORGE  - Contemporary Landscapes from the Collection of Her Majesty Queen Sonja of Norway". (Catalog)
• Meghan Dailey.  "Painting as Paradox", Artforum                         
• Amei Wallach.    "Driven to abstraction", ARTnews November
• James Glisson, "Thomas Pihl at Thomas Erben Gallery", New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York web page
• Kevin Conley, "Thomas Pihl", The New Yorker, review
• Donald Goddard, "Thomas Pihl: Paintings", NewYorkArtWorld.com 


• Sparebanken Vest Artist Award

• Norwegian government Artist Fellowship

• Ingrid Lindback Landgaards Stiftelse
• Nomination to the Carnegie Art Award

• Office of Contemporary Art Norway, International Support

• Cultural Name of the year. Bergens Tidende News Paper
• Civitella Ranieri Center
• Exhibition Grant. Norwegian Cultural Counsil
• Project Support Vederlagsfondet Norway
• Nomination to the Carnegie Art Award
• Office of Contemporary Art Norway, International Support

• Three Year Work Grant - Norwegian Government
• Royal Caribbean Arts Grant
• Office of Contemporary Art Norway (OCA), International Support

• Fegerstens Stiftelse
• Nomination to the Carnegie Art Award

• International Studio and Curatorial Program:
Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
American Scandinavian Foundation, New York