“When the uneven gets even” Oslo’s Aksel Strangstad mixes it up

Strangstad sorting through beach pebbles in Greece

‘So many people came to see my work!’ exclaims 65-year-old Aksel Strangstad in surprise. Last month, Aksel’s first exhibition in Oslo generated rave reviews. ‘I got the most valuable feedback. I love it. I should have done that some time before.’

It was actually the Corona pandemic that gave Aksel the time to put his mosaics together into an exhibition. Before that, he was working as an Occupational Therapist, dealing with elderly people living in their own homes as long as possible, as well as severe drug-addicts and people with mental health problems in Oslo hospitals. That work gave him a way to use his training in Art and Language after his studies at the University of Oslo.

‘I love aesthetics, beautiful things, atmospheres, nature,’ he says. ‘I like to harvest my inspiration from nature, from my travels and from happenings in life. Just like that. Eyes must be open. I see a glimpse of a motief, - I get it. Have to work with that idea. More.’

He stumbled into doing mosaics about fifteen years ago. ‘I started collecting pebbles on the beach or along the shorelines in the Oslo fjord,’ he says.

‘And picking up pieces of glass that had been washed by the waves for years, I saw they could fit together and started to make my own puzzle.’

Soon after that he started visiting the Craft Kit and using manufactured tiles as well. As a result, his work has become extremely eclectic, full of different influences and styles.

‘Mixing old traditions, cultures, different materials and experimenting with shapes seems to be my signature. "When the un-even gets even" is my slogan. This I like.

I feel that colours is my therapy, keeps me balanced and stimulated at the same time. When I also can work with shaping things, - I am in heaven. It is the best for me.

My way of expression for these things is using the style impressionism, I love using the dots, Dots and dots, side by side. Leaves much of the interpretation to the viewer, invites the viewer into the visual work. And people seem to see different things. It works.’

‘I like to recycle materials. Glass and stone is fabulous material to use again and again. But for new ideas and for the inspiration I like to visit the Craft Kit. It feels like coming home each time I am there. It is the best. Thanks to Rhonda and her crew for the best service and hospitality.

‘Art should shake you up,’ Aksel says. ‘It should create an awareness of the limits on your scale of feelings.’

This approach is reflected in his own way of life. After being married with three kids, he came out as a gay man 37 years ago. This was difficult at the beginning, but his family eventually adjusted and 22 years ago he got divorced, though his ex-wife Linda has remained one of his best friends.

A year ago, he retired and now has more time to devote to his art. ‘In the future I will continue to search new ways to combine history, different traditions and cultural expressions. And I have a few ideas that I am working on. One is actually in progress now while I am island-hopping on the Greek Islands this summer. The ideas are still secret and it is too early to show anything yet. But maybe I will be having an exibhition in the fall next year. I hope so. Meanwhile I have to visit The Craft Kit in Alsmeer some more time and get my special material from there.’

See more on Aksel’s own site: https://www.mosaikkverksted.com/452150749