Art Creeps off the Canvas in Vanna Bowles’ Surreal Drawings

by Margot BuermannPosted on


Vanna Bowles is a visual artist who creates sculptures, drawings, and installations with people and nature as her central subjects. The artist is fond of combining her pencil work with mixed media to create a three-dimensional, illusory effect, with pieces extending from the surface of her canvas and into the viewer’s surrounding space. Bowles has exhibited her work at the Lars Bohman Gallery in Stockholm, Malmö Art Museum and the Stenersen Museum in Oslo.

On her website, the artist states, “The borders between nature and culture, presence and unawareness, are starting points for my work, and I try to create ambivalent images shifting between those contradictions.” Bowles was born in 1974 in Gothenburg and currently lives and works in Oslo. She studied at the National Academy of Fine Art in Oslo and the Universität der Künste in Berlin.


The artist’s work is emotionally charged, and can be simultaneously unsettling and entrancing to look at. One particular series features men and women in various states of unconsciousness and vulnerability, with sculpted branches, leaves and flowers growing from their bodies as hands offer a notion of treatment or authority. The vegetation that crawls out from the canvas appears to be unrelenting. Describing these works, Bowles wrote, “I imagine this nature growing in and out of these people is like the inner life that we can’t always monitor. An inherit force that can be both life giving and destroying.”

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