Hanne Lydia Opøien Figenschou was born in Trondheim and grew up in Tromsø in the North of Norway. She now lives and works in Oslo and Tromsø. She studied at Nordland Art and Film School, Kabelvåg, Norway, Trondheim Academy of Fine Art, Norway and The University of Arts, Crafts and Design, Stockholm, Sweden. Her works explore themes of gender and identity through the mediums of drawing, text and video, expressing a recurrent interest in the blatant and public versus the intimate. Text is employed in installations with narrative themes, as prose in the video works called Video prosa, poetry collected in books or in performance.
This approach has been employed for several exhibitions where the books manifest themselves as sculptural objects in the exhibition space, last seen at I TRAVEL, solo show, Fredrikstad Kunstforening, Fredrikstad, 2020. The publication was titled Fire i én en boksamling / Four in One, A Book Collection, containing 115 poems, Norwegian/ English. The publication is containing, as the title states, a collection of all her published books, and had a price tag. In former exhibitions single publications was provided free of charge to visitors and existed as an object to take home. This can be perceived as inclusive, but also as obtrusive. In her work, she examines aspects of communication or the absence of dialogue. She has examined violence in close relations, particularly the after-effects of violence.
In her previous drawings, the masked self-portrait has been a recurring theme with reference to the strategies various cultures employ for expressing identity through covering or uncovering the body. The approach can be seen as expressing the need to claim ownership of the self-portrait, which throughout art history has been the dominion of men. This culminated in the solo show SELFIES at Bomuldsfabriken Kunsthall in 2013. In contrast to the visual language of previous work, in recent works the style has been toned down to create a sober distance. The approach represents a continuation of the portrait/self-portrait where the subject’s absence tells a story through the attributes of objects and the absence leaves room for interpretation. The images originate in snapshots taken with a smartphone, the immediate is brought out through time-consuming draughtsman ship and scaling that effectively creates a distance to the digital starting point.
Figenschou has had a large number of exhibitions and won several awards, among them The Weideman Art Award, The Håkon Bleken Art Award and the jury award at Nordnorsken. In 2015 she received a ten-year Working Grant from The Norwegian Arts Council. Her works have been purchased by the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, North Norwegian Museum of Art, Sparebank1 Art Foundation, North of Norway, the municipalities of Trondheim and Oslo, Trondheim Museum of Art among others. She was head of The Norwegian Drawing Association for a period of five years ending in 2013 and have had other positions in boards and in art political context, also as the member of the board in NNBK in 2014/15.