Jostein Bernal Eriksen - Artist Spotlight

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Jostein Bernal Eriksen - Return on Art

“ Everyone is made of many flat layers built of language, cultural identity, and codes. All these separate flat layers create a shared reality, but when one has several of each, it creates a unique dimension.”



Jostein has been interested in art since he was a kid due to the artistic influences at home. Now, he is an abstract artist who excels in using colours, geometry and light compositions. He likes geometry and is particularly obsessed with the exploration of cube geometries. Based on these explorations, he often produces interplays of movements in his work, giving the viewers a unique feeling while looking at them. 

Languages also inspire Jostein’s art as he uses them to explore the perception of reality and choices in life. Different linguistic characteristics subtly influence his artistic choices of colours and forms. Since Jostein is multi-lingual and multi-cultural, he uses this advantage and depicts the switches he often experiences in his work. Eventually, Jostein developed his own visual language, which he uses to create visual poetry with colourful vocabulary.  

Jostein Bernal Eriksen - Return on Art


Q. Could you briefly describe how you started your art journey and how it has been going so far?

I was born into an artistic family, and my mother was an artist. My journey as an artist started as a little kid. I remember how I loved to draw and paint as a child, and in my early teens (13 years old), I started actively with graffiti. In 2010, I finally started painting on canvases, but there was no big production. The turning point occurred in 2013 when I hit the bottleneck in my career development and was completely burnt out. Since then, painting has become my coping strategy. Today, painting is one of the most important things I do for my health and is my form of therapy. I can’t live without it.

Jostein Bernal Eriksen - Return on Art

In March this year, I started my paternity leave. Out of fun, I applied for a well-known art exhibition in my county. Since I've never applied for anything, I thought this was the perfect chance to try out. Eventually, two of my works were included in the final exhibition. This achievement was a wonderful feeling that has given me so much motivation and hunger for more. I suddenly received much media attention because of my paintings and my childhood experience - at 14, I created a graffiti piece on a building commissioned by the same art organisation. Today I'm allowed inside with my art. 

With all these, I have now gained a name in the local art scene. Best of all, it has given me more courage and an indescribable hunger to show the world my diverse life and what diversity can create!


Q. Were you formally trained in the art? Do you think this has influenced your artistic approach?

Yes, I studied art in high school, and I think this experience has influenced how and what I paint. In descriptive geometry class, I learned that I was very skilled in geometry and understood it well, even though I was never very fond of mathematics. Now, geometric painting has become my speciality. 

Jostein Bernal Eriksen - Return on Art

 Jostein Bernal Eriksen
Passing Gaudi’s Mind, 2021


Q. You seem to be very interested in geometric shapes. Could you tell us what you find most exciting and intriguing about geometry?

Geometry is mathematics and cannot be subjectively interpreted because it is based on logic. Therefore, it is also the best way to ensure that I get my message across - since misinterpretation is unlikely.  Mathematics is an exception in a world where many things can be misunderstood. I think this is what binds us together and gives us the same reality and the same answers.

Jostein Bernal Eriksen - Return on Art


Q. You mentioned that languages influence the choices of colours and shapes. Could you elaborate a bit more about that? How do you choose colours and shapes?

The first thing that comes to mind is when I try to translate a joke from Norwegian to Spanish, or the other way around, it doesn't turn out as the same joke. When I say ‘Mountain’ in Norwegian and picture it, I see grey, angular and something rocky. When I think of ‘Mountain’ in Spainish, I imagine something softer with a sunset. In Norwegian, it is a neutral word but feminine in Spanish.  Another example - Germans are known for structure and order, for they have a structured, strict and very logical language that makes them superior in that area. This kind of structure, rules and rhythm of a language can lead the way you think and give you limited imagination choices.

So to free myself in art, I want to mix languages together. In 2020, I started learning Italian because the Italian culture, designers and artists are unique. It was a way for me to gain insight into their creative world and get inspired. It is as if you are a slightly different person in each language and think differently. People often feel that one should have several languages to express oneself well. Unfortunately, there is a limit to how much one can mix linguistically. But we can do that with art infinitely. The more languages in a mix, the more advanced the expression is. 

Generally, I don’t think too much about colour or shape, the environment I create around me helps me to develop them naturally.

Jostein Bernal Eriksen - Return on Art


Q. You said that you want to create a floating perception for your viewers. Could you explain your artistic approaches to achieving this?

I like flat surfaces without texture and prefer to create texture in the form of illusions that sticks out in 3D. I start my artistic process by imagining central points and light sources. Since I often imagine multiple light sources, my artwork ends up confusing the viewers because of the clashing dimensions. 

Jostein Bernal Eriksen - Return on Art

Q. With this floating perception, what message do you want to convey to your audience?

Some physicists believe that the universe and the three-dimensional world we see is a hologram of a flat 2D world where we are like computers that interpret the "codes" that give us this 3D reality. If that is true, we float between a flat 2D world and a 3D world.

The flat canvas with three-dimensional forms represents how I feel about my multicultural background. Everyone is made of many flat layers built of language, cultural identity, and codes. All these separate flat layers create a shared reality, but when one has several of each, it creates a unique dimension, from 2D to 3D, with a particular identity that only multicultural individuals can access and share a common view. We can recognise each other and feel a sense of community despite our different backgrounds. We can understand and tap into the ordinary world, but the ordinary world cannot tap into us. With my art, I ́m trying to give access and help people tapping into this side.

Jostein Bernal Eriksen - Return on Art


Q. Could you share with us your process of creating each artwork?

It often starts with me choosing music or a podcast in one of the languages I speak and try reflecting on the vibes it gives me. Then, I get hung up on a word that attracts my attention and I start creating thoughts about the word's meaning. Or I try to imagine the rhythm of a language and translate it into colours and shapes. In my work ‘The Garden of Harlequin’, I translated Italian rhythm to colours; and in ’Passing Gaudi’s Mind’, I translated Spanish rhythm into colours where I imagined a window into Gaudi's mind.

Then I start drawing shapes on the canvas with a charcoal marker before painting over with a big brush and defining the lines more. Next, I begin colouring and shading. When the piece is finished, the charcoal lines from the beginning have already created something newer and more defined.


Q. Do you think your identity as a multicultural artist contributes to your art?

Being multicultural is the essence of my art - as I have already elaborated in my previous answers. One key manifestation - when I was young, I liked hip-hop and graffiti a lot because I found a commonality in hip-hop culture - it was one culture that influenced many cultures. Today, I find it in my canvas, where I gather my diversity into one piece.

Jostein Bernal Eriksen - Return on Art

Q. How do you think each piece of your artwork differs from one another?

It's like a musician creating different songs and notes, but audiences often can recognise a commonality. For me, all paintings are different, with different processes, languages, thoughts, and reflections, even though the creator is the same.

Jostein Bernal Eriksen


Q. Are you inspired by any other form of artistic or creative discipline/s?

I really like to learn and practice languages. My next goal is to learn German. Apart from that, I am also very happy to write about thoughts and ideas.


Q. Do you have the proudest piece of artwork to share?

My painting ‘Our Boxes’ is probably the one. 

This work started with me being completely blank and thinking I had to think outside the box for something new. Then I began to reflect on thinking outside the box, outside myself - it doesn't work. One simply cannot think of anything from thin air. Then I tried to gather my recollections and realised that I had an idea two years ago, which I never made because it was too complicated. This time, I felt it was the perfect time to make it. Eventually, it turned into a very beautiful painting.


Q. Could you describe your work in 3 words?

Enlightening, nuanced, conceptual.

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1 comment

Love your artwork very interesting and colour formation good. Keep going to achieve the maximum development.

Jacqueline Dunn

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