THE BLOG
09/01/2014 09:20 pm ET Updated Nov 01, 2014

Art and Landscape in Nordland, Northern Norway

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Adelsteen Normann.

Adelsteen Normann (1848 -1918) at Galleri Bodøgaard, Bodø. Adelsteen Normann, a painter born in Bodø, depicts the Norwegian landscapes, especially fjords. The gallery owner, Harald Bodøgaard described Normann as "forgotten artist" and he hopes to help bring him "into the light again." Normann's oil paintings focus on the intense natural terrain of Nordland, with occasional appearances of distant seaside human activities such as fishing and boating, but the panoramic scenes are mostly absent of any human traces, focusing only on the sublime, light-flooded landscapes. Also on view is a dense floor-to-ceiling presentation of Bodøgaard's collection of historical Russian religious icons and artifacts (gilded saint paintings, adorned crosses, etc.). Lastly, the sprawling basement of Galleri Bodøgaard is an archive of sorts, considered an "ethnographic collection" with Bodøgaard's personal accumulation of historical ephemera from Nordland (including ropes and fishing nets, Viking belts and tools, hand-made lace, old photographic equipment, wolf drawings, sardine cans, and rock minerals). Some of these objects are archaeological and profound, dating as far back as the Stone Age, and others are playful: every time Bodøgaard upgrades his cell phone, he adds the former to a pile within the ethnographic collection.

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Eva Harr.

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Eva Harr.

Eva Harr at the Bodø Art Society, Bodø. Karl Erik Harr and Jan Harr at Zahlfjøsen, Kjerringjoy. In Nordland, much of the art seems to engage with the landscape, and this source of inspiration comes as no surprise. During the arctic summertime in Northern Norway, darkness arrives like an incoming tide, slow and gradual, crawling its way to a faint presence, but it's immediately counteracted by the sun's return. Deep blue hails strong, dominating the skies, fjords, lakes, rivers and ocean, but this hue is perpetually changing, sometimes competing for attention with the strange and stunning cloud formations along with the fog and mist (especially in Mistfjorden, north of Bodø). Eva Harr's timeless water-meets-sky and winding-road dusk paintings capture these arctic vibes.

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Karl Erik Harr

Eva's two siblings, Karl Erik Harr and Jan Harr, are also notable Nordland artists and their work can be seen at Zahlfjøsen, in Kjerringjoy. Jan's botanical landscape lithographs present lush fields of wildflowers, such as fireweed and Queen Anne's lace, foregrounding mountain ranges. Karl Erik's stormy seascapes depict breaking waves and ships battling watery forces. Also on display is Karl Erik's forest scenes with Pan playing his reed flute, alongside tree limbed spirits and women who may either be enchantresses or under the forest's spell of enchantment. The three Harr siblings, Eva, Karl Erik and Jan, are Nordland landscapist luminaries, and their local subject matter is not solely scenic or picturesque, but purposeful and deeply rooted in exalting Norway's unspoiled environment as it relates to personal experience and national identity.

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Per Adde, Høst I, 2004, Oil, 180 x 150 cm.

Gallery Adde Zetterquist (Adde Zetterquist Kunstgalleri) at the Nordland National Park Center. It's remarkable that a brand new gallery recently sprung up in a National Park Center, and Gallery Adde Zetterquist (created in 2013) celebrates the art and lives of Per Adde and Kajsa Zetterquist, in particular their intimacy with nature and Adde's activism for causes relating to natural conservation and Sami rights. Their work is quite contemporary and impressively so, considering their remote dwelling place, in the far Arctic North of the Norway. Adde's colorful abstractive canvases are populated by leaves, reindeer heads, antlers, earthy mounds among other idioms of the landscape. His abstract bright compositions and devotion to fauna felt familiar and reminiscent of New York contemporaries, such as Lauren Luloff and Ryan Schneider. Zetterquist's figurative paintings and drawings are open and somewhat distanced, yet a strong sense of interiority comes across; some of her exhibited works are from the 60s while others are more recent.