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A painted journey through Norway - Nikolai Astrup

2nd March 2016

Above: Detail from Nikolai Astrup's, 'Midsummer Eve Bonfire', 1912 (retouched in 1926). Oil on paper on cardboard.

If you've never been to Norway this exhibition will have you rushing home to book your flights. The Dulwich Picture Gallery presents the first UK exhibition dedicated to the paintings and prints by Nikolai Astrup (1880 - 1928), one of Norway's finest twentieth-century artists. 

Nikolai Astrup, 'Marsh Marigold Night', c.1915. Colour woodcut on paper. Photo copyright Dag Fosse / KODE

Astrup was driven by his desire to create a 'national style' - something quintessentially Norwegian in feeling and subject-matter. His woodcuts and paintings captured the myths and folklore of his homeland through powerful, lush landscapes and scenes of traditional life. Among the 120 oil paintings, prints and archival material on public display for the first time, we learn about Astrup's upbringing through his depiction of the childhood farmstead at Sandalstrand, surrounded by mountains overlooking lake Jølstravatnet

Nikolai Astrup, 'Foxgloves', 1925. Colour woodcut on paper. Photo copyright of A. Ivarsøy

'Looking closely we see tiny figures appear in the froth from the rushing water.'

Nikolai Astrup, 'A Morning in March', c. 1920. Oil on canvas. Photo copyright Dag Fosse / KODE

Left: Nikolai Astrup, 'Moon in May', 1908. Colour woodcut on paper. Right: Nikolai Astrup, 'A Night in June in the Garden', 1909. Colour woodcut on paper.

We lost track of time, escaping into the depths of the rugged mountains and magical landscapes. Astrup's childlike sense of wonder emerges through playful and subtle suggestions within the art. Looking closely we see tiny figures appear in the froth from the rushing water in 'Foxgloves', animal shapes are created out of snow capped peaks in 'Moon in May' and the figure of a troll features in 'A Morning in March', amongst others. 

Detail from Nikolai Astrup's 'Sandalstrand', 1917. Black and white woodcut on paper.

Left: Nikolai Astrup, 'Sandalstrand', 1917. Black and white woodcut on paper. Right: Nikolai Astrup, 'Marsh Marigold Night', c.1915. Black and white woodcut with was on paper.

Ian A. C. Dejardin, co-curator with MaryAnne Stevens and Frances Carey, explains how integral printmaking was to Astrup's artistic practice. Creating intense experiences with light and shadow combinations, Astrup took a painterly approach to printmaking, adding texture and colour with a brush overtop of his prints - consciously blurring boundaries between the two mediums.

The exhibition truly evokes the artist's spirit and leads you through a memorable journey of his creative view and life at home in western Norway.  

Nikolai Astrup: Painting Norway

5th February - 17 May 2016

Tickets: Adults £12.50, concessions available. Children and members free.

Open: 10am - 5pm daily

 

Dulwich Picture Gallery

Gallery Road, London

SE21 7AD

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