Conversation with OSCAR YRAN
July 27, 2018
We had a chat with Norwegian artist OSCAR YRAN during the vernissage of his exhibition
Oscar Yran was born in Oslo and moved to Denmark when he was 22 years old to attend the Funen Art Academy. “Nice and surprising!” was the first reaction Oscar had when asked about the moving process from Oslo to Copenhagen.
Q: What is the connection between art and being an immigrant?
A: “Funen can be a little provincial compared to Copenhagen, but at the same time there’s less competition in the art and design fields. Denmark is more liberal and relaxed compared to Norway, the student lifestyle is stimulating and more accessible. Denmark is kind of a bridge between southern Europe and Scandinavia. As an immigrant from Norway I felt automatically accepted in Denmark. Despite often feeling like an immigrant and new to the country, the language and some small common points with Danes made me feel accepted. Being an artist in a country which is not yours can even be an influence in some ways”
Q: What was your main inspiration for designing a chair and what connected this inspiration to the Egyptian culture?
A: “Since we debated a lot in high school about this ‘postcolonial’ appropriation of visual influences, I care about highlighting the fact that the “Egyptian Revival” I used when thinking and designing my chair is a European fashion, which is different from the original Egyptian style. I found amazingly interesting how these kind of power structures, when it comes to style, have been stolen and have influenced our times. The idea of designing a chair comes from a book I got about ancient furniture: the oldest example is in fact an old Egyptian chair, full of details and very sculptural. The particularity of the lion feet has been used in almost all the types of chairs from five thousand years BC, I found it surprising how popular that was and decided to use this feature in contrast with the post-modern era we are in right now.
Q: In Ancient Egypt a chair was often decorated with golden details and scenes of daily life and could reflect an important position and privilege in the society. What does a chair mean in everyday life? Did this meaning change over the centuries?
A: I think that it’s interesting to point out that from the Egyptian culture we only have examples from the elite, it was a kind of furniture that not everyone could afford. This is often the case in historical contexts as the rich had a materialistic lifestyle. I would love for my personal development to stay in art in general instead of furniture. I have already made several sculptures based on utility objects. In my close future I plan to participate in the Spirefestival in Holbæk and the next big focus is in the fourth trimester. I will be sailing the European west coast as well as crossing the Atlantic to gain inspiration. Otherwise, my main inspiration stems from reading books, conducting a lot of online research and sometimes it is just random as it happened with a book about Japanese design which was given to me from my girlfriend’s mother and led to a very interesting project. What I can surely say is that I don’t do business projects, so my inspiration never comes from what people ask or need; it’s easy to fall into the “financial” aspect when it comes to creating new projects.
Q: Did you are education give you a lot of freedom or on the opposite, was it somehow limiting?
A: The only thing my art education gave me is good collaborations and great colleagues as well as a lot of space and time to express myself. Funen Art Academy is an open-minded environment where teachers provide a lot of incentives and freedom. My life as an artist in Denmark is the life of an “international artist” more than immigrant, which is a funny point of view that in art can always be a plus!”