I meet Disha Lundberg in the venue that hosts the newest exhibition of her drawings. At first, it’s hard to concentrate, because the drawings draw the eye instantly. Soon enough I discover that the creator of the drawings is equally intriguing.
A Norwegian in India
Disha explains the foreign sound of her name right away, “I grew up in Tromsø and India. I have parents that, I guess, you could call hippie and that is also the reason for my name. It’s not a normal Norwegian name – it’s from India.”
She spent one year of her childhood in India attending an international school. Her parents would go back to India on several occasions, taking her with them, so that she could learn from such an experience.
Even though she was born in Trondheim, and moved to Tromsø only as a five-year-old, not to mention the Indian experience, she still feels that she is from here:
“I feel that I am from Tromsø, my dialect is from here and mostly I grew up here.”
When asked about her first artistic experiences she admits that she has always drawn and adds:
“My whole family is artistic, my grandfather works with wood, my grandmother knits and paints, my mother makes fantastic clothes and paints, my dad is a musician, and I have an older sister who’s a painter and graphic designer and my younger sister is also a painter and my brother is an actor … I guess it’s in the blood”.
She attended “Tegning form og farge” (Drawing, shape and color) at one of Tromsø’s high schools, but didn’t really enjoy the school’s idea of educating future artists.
“I wouldn’t say that you really learn to draw there, I hated it, I was fighting with most of the teachers. It was so strict. You had to plan everything in details and make three different suggestions for colors you were going to use. I just like sitting down and starting to draw – I want to get it out there.”
Finally, she found herself in an art school in Oslo and even though she learned to make artistic installations, which isn’t her primary interest, she enjoyed this year the most:
“The lifestyle in the school was quite bohemian and you didn’t have the regulations of the normal schools – you could just come whenever you wanted, be free and be and artist that time and day when you wanted.”
Being an artist in Tromsø
When asked about her sentiment for Tromsø she replies that she is proud of the city and that it has a lot of potential. It is, however more of a music and film city; it’s still better for an artist to leave for Oslo, since there is simply more going on there artistically, especially when it comes to the number of exhibitions. But she believes that it’s getting better:
“I think that it actually got better, we now have the INTRO fund, which sponsored my exhibition, we have the (Art) Academy, Kurant, and more venues for artists. It’s more than, say, six years ago.”
Frida Kahlo and children’s books
Disha compares her drawing method to “Drawing by numbers”. She likes to start out by drawing the contours with a pen and color afterwards.
“Pen is my favorite I guess, because it goes so quickly and the line will just float by itself. I love coloring afterwards.”
The first person that she quotes as her inspiration is Frida Kahlo, mainly because of the artist’s “toughness” and strength of character, and Alfons Mucha. There’s also her childhood inspiration, that is childrens’ book illustrator – Thore Hansen.
“I actually didn’t discover it until I two years ago. I suddenly came across this book and I have noticed how much this book influenced me when I was little.”
She had already taken part in exhibitions and other artistic initiatives, such as designing a poster for Hjerterå, a graffiti-map she drew in Moss, or a poster for Kurant’s Kvernhuset film club.
One drawing per day for a year
Disha’s current project is TreSekstiFem. The basic idea behind the exhibition was creating one drawing a day for 365 days. For each drawing she had exactly 24 hours, meaning that no corrections and additions were allowed after the time has passed. How did she decide to start the project?
“I was living in Oslo, got very sick and had to come back to Tromsø. I wasn’t really happy about it – I love Oslo and I have all my friends and my life there. So I’ve decided to make a project so I have something to do here. The day I moved back here I decided to make one drawing every day and I don’t think I actually knew what I was getting into. I would wake up every day and my first thought was – what should I draw today?”
But, was she having any doubts about the project?
“I never thought I would give up, but I had periods when I was struggling. What I would do then is to go to the library get a lot of books and just get inspired, watch movies about artists and try to go to the exhibitions. I experienced that it’s really important to keep being inspired because if I didn’t get refill in any way, I would go blank. “
Sea gulls, blood and mirrors
Asked about her inspiration, she admits she is inspired by generally everything:
“I could look at my beer and get inspiration from the foam in it, or just from a shadow. I tried to look at everything artistically. I got inspired from the way people were standing or spaces between people or color combinations.”
Looking at the 365 drawings one will probably notice that symbolism and dreams are also a great deal of inspiration for Disha. Finally, asked about her self-portraits appearing among the 365 other drawings she mentions one more source of inspiration:
“I look into the mirror a lot when I draw, I get much inspiration from it. For example, from my mimic.”
She admits that she may also inspired by Tromsø:
“I have a seagull and I have some with the northern lights in it yes, definitely, I’m from Tromsø and I get inspired a lot.“
Looking at the drawings one can also notice that Disha is not only set on pretty things. In her drawings you can find physiology, gory depictions of human body, smoking and drinking.
“It’s honest because it’s a kind of my diary that I did for a year.” – she admits.
Finally, when asked if she wants to say anything to the potential visitors of her exhibition she says:
“I want people to come and have their own experiences– I don’t usually explain a lot, like when you listen to a song and you get a feel of it. I like everybody to have their own feelings about it.”
Disha Lundberg is a free-spirited Tromsø artist, whose inspirations range from the children’s book illustrations to Frida Kahlo. She is painfully honest when it comes to human body, physiology and habits. At the same time she uses a lot of symbolism and her pictures are very dream-like.
After having seen the exhibition I had two main impressions. First, how was it possible to carry out such a big project – 365 drawings – without missing out a single day? Second, I was overwhelmed at the diversity of the individual drawings, which is pretty impressive taking into account their overwhelming number. At the same time, Disha seems to have a recognizable style and, in my opinion, this is what makes an artist. I know that I will be able to recognize her art whenever I see it.
TreSekstiFem – 356 tegninger