Julie Rafalski

Paintings in Bergen

When can we say that something is finished? Is there a point when nothing more can be added?

When I was in Bergen a few years ago I saw some paintings of Leonard Rickhard at the museum. They seemed to me to somehow relate to the colours of the Bergen streets at dusk or to those of the harbour boats I had seen during my trip.

The houses and the harbour added something to the way I experienced Rickhard's paintings. His paintings were tucked in between visits to the fjords and to the harbour.

The experience of looking at his paintings was changed by my surroundings. I "added" something to the paintings that wasn't there before. In that way the experience has "completed" the work for me in a different way perhaps than someone else at that point in time would have.

The experience of looking at something is always singular and never repeats in exactly the same way. It also adds to something in such a way that we are never be sure whether we added it or it has always been like that. This addition is different every time one looks at something. A painting, for example, can be "finished" in very different ways, depending on who (when and where) is doing the looking.