No More Jokes (Kerber Art 2019)
Monography published by KERBER (Berlin)

with text by Kjetil Røed and Tina Rigby Hanssen

Editor: Johanne Norby Wernø


It has a definite touch of something more intimate, something darker and with more melancholy. At the same time, the book has kept the energy in the seemingly fast and sketch-like that has always characterized Terje Nicolaisens works.

Kåre Bulie, D2

Kåre Bulie in D2 magazine:

Once around the millennium, Terje Nicolaisen (54) came up with an unusual suggestion: a voluminous
device that should function as a trash container for artworks. Above the drawing of the creature Nicolaisen lured, as if it were an advertisement, with "new opportunities for you to throw art! ”. He claimed to provide a «return of readymades to the real world « and "safe treatment of auratologically hazardous and unstable
material". The target group was "all bad artists".

Nicolaisens handling of the durable the idea of the ​​arts aura, its special charisma and value, is just as apt as it is witty. The starting point for the art waste bin was namely that if you place many works from different artists and intentions together, "an uncontrollable auratic radiation, a potentially dangerous situation» could occur. Therefore, special measures are required - and who is better suited to implement them than an artist who has a part in the art’s coveted aura?

Art Disposal Chamber, the title of this particular work, was for many years characteristic of Nicolaisens art. He worked extensively on the idea-oriented and what he called proposals: a combination of text and drawing. They could act on everything from lighting up the entrance to a Hell's Angels headquarters («As a welcome or as a get-the-hell-out-of-here warning») to make far more comprehensive but equally original
interventions in the center of Oslo. In connection with the proposals, Nicolaisen has underlined the importance of the short gap between head and heart working on paper. Very few of them have been realized, and the works are ideas put into circulation, rather than plans that actually calls for implementation.

The exceptions include the so-called Norwegian (continental) Shelf Award (Norsk Sokkel Award 2001 - ), an art prize Nicolaisen suggested - and introduced - at the turn of the millennium. In his usual wise institutional-critical way he has awarded it to people who have supported his own career: a gallery, a colleague, a teacher.

When the artist had his first major exhibition, at the Henie Onstad Art Center in 2011, art historian Ingvild Krogvig wrote in the catalog that Nicolaisen with his suggestions wants to "Improve existing structures, create new facilities or staging social situations ». He is not the man of the towering monuments. Krogvig pulled lines back to artists like Joseph Beuys and Claes Oldenburg. Not least she placed Nicolaisen in the tradition of 1960 and 1970s conceptual art. Henie Onstad Management completed the picture by calling him a "satirical commentator ", A" one-man band "and - in good conceptual systematic spirit - a "very skilled bureaucrat».


First and foremost, Terje Nicolaisen is a very entertaining artist. Typically, the work of his is among the very few I still can remember from the latest National Art Exhibition. With the title "Untitled (Bad Painter)" he had painted a picture of a shabby, long-haired gentleman, with the irresistible inscription "He was the only bad painter for miles. Artists came to him for advice». I am always happy when I encounter art that as well as being interesting to look at and reflect on, is genuinely entertaining. The art institution's relationship with humor is at best ambivalent. In a milieu with few rules to navigate by and with a corresponding high degree of uncertainty, the majority seems to be more concerned with a so-called serious appearance than a amusing one, and a social and political engaged facade rather than a witty. Although this results in not so few boring works it also suggests that in the history of art seriousness has had better conditions than humor.

Nicolaisen is therefore an artist which is mainly known among a particularly interested audience. That he is these days releasing the book "No More Jokes" at the German art-publisher Kerber, presented as an expression of a more "sincere" vein in his ouvre, reads then as an attempt to become more "serious". On the other hand, there maybe a reason not to take these assertions too serious, coming from an artist of Nicolaisens type.

However, that does not mean that "No More Jokes» first and foremost is a nonsense book, even though it -
of course - has elements of the author's characteristic sense of humor. Rather, it is a summary of more than twenty years of systematic work with drawing and painting: 200 colourful pictures on paper, primarily of people and heads. The critic Johanne Nordby Wernø, who has participated in the selection, points out in the preface that « real idolisation is hard to combine with irony, to expose one’s admiration for, and interest in others, comes with vulnerability. », and that this book rather than previous more humanistic publications of the past, are dominated by "atmospheres, use of colour, lines, painterly qualities and the artist’s actual talent for form, colour and rich figurative imagery»


It is indeed a generous colourist that appears in these paintings, even if titles like «Untitled (fucking artist)« and «Untitled (because Tor is smoking) « helps us to recollect which artist we are dealing with here. The art world is, as usual, well represented in Nicolaisens work with a series of «Sick Artists II - VI ». Henri Matisse, Sigmar Polke, Jakob Weidemann and Andrea Zittel are among those who occurs by their names. A portrait titled «Self Portrait As Arne Ekeland» testifies to a particular close relationship. Also included are a number of portraits bares witness of an interest in both Norwegian and international fiction: Dag Solstad and Karl
Ove Knausgård, Marianne Moore and Salman Rushdie. In addition, politicians from Thorbjørn Jagland to Slobodan Milošević - and figures from pop culture, whether it is princess Diana or the "Twin Peaks» figure Dale Cooper. Now and then text is included, but language plays a much minor role in the works of this book than in the earlier mentioned Proposals ( Supplemetary Notes 1994 - 2011 On Selected Proposals 1995 - 2005).

In other words, "No More Jokes" combines the near and far, the contemporary and the historical, personal and political. It has a definite touch of something more intimate, something darker and with more melancholy. At the same time, the book has kept the energy in the seemingly fast and sketch-like that has always characterized Terje Nicolaisens works. The combination of humor and seriousness that this publication represents, adds new dimensions to an artistry that deserves more attention than it has received so far.

D2 - Kåre Bulie 1st March 2019