Ole Lislerud


Wall detail, porcelain plaque, Oslo Court Building



Norway I Oslo I Ceramic materiality


How can ceramics add meaning to a building? Concerned with the question of identity, the ceramist Ole Lislerud likes forceful social statements in his art, through a great variety of projects. An acute observer of the changes in modern life, he looks attentively to its various translations in the urban space. For the Supreme Court, the challenge was to promote values of exchanges and openness to the world in an artistic language. Demonstration on site! While Ole Lislerud engraves the articles of the law in ceramics, the building suddenly embodies the spirit of justice, peaceful forever.

If you approach the façade, the work looks like both an ancestral calligraphy and a contemporary artwork. The porcelain plaques act as a sensitive cocoon that envelops the building, spreading a singular atmosphere of fragility and strength. The minimalist and abstract aesthetic of the work reinforces the ceramic materiality. Therefore, art and architecture enrich each other. The maker succeeds in transcending ceramics in a conceptual painting, adding the skin layers of both, materials and moral values. The Supreme Court becomes sensitive!


    Author: Ole Lislerud

The 2-millimeter thin porcelain plaques that cover 500 square meters in the Court Building make a visual statement on the nine-story, 32 meters high arch, while the calligraphy symbolizes the fundamental values of Norwegian society.

The Norwegian Constitution, the Penal Code as well as the old Viking Laws, are inscribed on the tile surface of the walls. The fundamentals of the social democratic society are etched into the arch an archaic reverse handwriting. The skin of tiles is like tattoos on the human body, simultaneously relating a story and defining a sense of identity. The penal code mirror image symbolizes the drama in the courtroom where the prosecutor and the defense attorney interpret the same paragraphs of the law, each to the advantage of the client. The code written mirror image on the porcelain plaques is a metaphor giving no specific answer. Surrounded by 52 courtrooms, the sky lit lobby atrium has the arch as its central element.


The arch itself can also be interpreted to represent the special moment of passing from one situation to another. Either you win a case or you lose it. The arch symbolizes how society values itself and humanity. The continual daily interpretations of the law are guidelines that govern our social, political and economic structures.

In this site-specific work, art and architecture combine to create an integrated statement that gives identity and meaning not only for those who work in the court building but also for society at large.

Lex Portalis, the Portal of The Law, is a symbol of society in transformation, constantly assessing its system of values. In addition, it gives the building context and public status.


Oslo Supreme Court Building
Architect Terje Grønmo, Østgaard Architects – 1994




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