Articles and Features

Rannva Kunoy: Permanent Suggestion and Permanent Suspense

By Shira Wolfe

Rannva Kunoy
Photo: Charlie Forgham Bailey. Courtesy of the Independent

There is something inherently mysterious about islanders, something that immediately speaks to the artistic soul. Maybe there’s something to being stuck on an island surrounded only by water that brings out a certain type of intense creativity. And when an artistic islander leaves and starts mixing with large, bustling cities, you get someone like Rannva Kunoy, an artist who was born in 1975 on the Faroe Islands, an archipelago between Norway and Iceland, and ended up in London.

Rannva Kunoy, Candidate,
Candidate, 2017. Courtesy of Nathalie Kart Gallery

“If I was not from there, I would not know where it was,” said Kunoy in an Independent interview. Almost all the islanders leave to study abroad, but most of them, about 95%, eventually return. Kunoy, however, has chosen to settle in London, where she studied art at the Royal College of Art, and has her studio. Kunoy seems to echo the mysteries of her island through her haunting, mesmerising paintings while challenging set beliefs, institutions and structures with her painting titles. Her works demand attention and ask the viewer to stay for a while, accepting the ever-changing work and finding one’s own perception of it.

Rannva Kunoy
Courtesy of Lundgren Gallery

Kunoy is becoming known for her often large-scale abstract works in which she experiments with spatiality, immateriality and colour. “My obsession is not being able to paint with texture, I am always pushing towards the immaterial,” she said in an interview. She cites Lucio Fontana and his cut paintings, and Minimalist artist Dan Flavin as big influences. 

Rannva Kunoy, Ego
Ego, 2015. Acrylic on linen. 240 x 190 cm. Courtesy of Lundgren Gallery

Kunoy uses colour-shifting crystal pigment paint (which is often used for luxury cars), creating ever-changing, fluid, and entrancing works. The artist, who recently caught the attention of Charles Saatchi who is now investing in her work, explains about her materials and work: “There is a sense of the movement in them. Because as you walk from one side to the next, the colour changes. It’s almost like a lamp. They are a light generator.”

Looking at her canvases there is a push and pull between communication and interpretation. The paintings themselves constantly transform and remain in the territory of permanent suggestion and permanent suspense, while the titles somehow concretise them at times with her often politically charged real-world concepts or nouns. The human eye is known to look for something recognisable in everything it sees, and Rannva Kunoy loves to play with this and push the search for something we know to the extreme. A treasure-trove for mysterious bits and pieces of information, suggestions and ideas.