Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Nikolai Astrup

I picked up a card the other day in a bookshop. It shows two girls in a Norwegian meadow collecting bunches of yellow flowers. The meadow is carpeted with the yellow blossoms, traversed by a small stream of shining metallic blue, bringing down the colours of the unsettled sky. Beyond the meadow are apple trees, sparkling in fresh white blossom, their branches like the trails of exploding fireworks. And beyond the apple trees, a cottage farm painted white and red, just catching the Spring sunlight. Finally, in the far distance, gentle but vast mountains, streaked with the remains of melting snow.

This painting is the work of Nikolai Astrup. He was born in 1880, and lived in Jølster, a town 150 km to the north of Bergen on the West side of Norway. You can still visit his home in this commune where he lived until his death in 1928. I really like his work which is a rich and folksy interpretation of Norway's beauty.

I suppose you could argue that Astrup's art comes too close to a chocolate box type image for comfort, but at the same time there is a poetry and exhuberance about the paintings which seems to go further than this. In addition, not all his paintings are of young girls and spring meadows. He also paints scenes and landscapes that are concerned with capturing the everyday aspects of life. A gallery of his paintings can be seen on a web site dedicated to the artist.

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