The reaction of many people on seeing Ørnulf Opdahl’s paintings for the first time is to turn their collars up and think ‘better get home before the weather closes in’. And well they might.
Opdahl, one of Norway’s foremost artists lives on the island of Godøy on the sub-arctic west coast of the country. He knows the landscape inside out. He also knows the blizzards, the avalanches and the drownings at sea. Above all he knows the light, and often the darkness. As he has said, “I am sometimes accused of making dismally dark paintings. My response is that in order to paint the light, I have to make room for darkness”. As this implies he sees Nature not as invariably benign but unstable, changeable and ominous.
Superb examples of his unsettling vision can be seen in the exhibitions of his etchings, lithographs and paintings which open simultaneously in Newcastle at Gallagher & Turner and Jesmond Dene House on 14 May. There will also be the launch of ‘Towards the Light’, an authoritative monograph on his work, the first to be published in Britain on a contemporary Norwegian artist, by MHW Publications.
Ørnulf Opdahl: Towards the Light runs from Friday 13 May to Saturday 4 June at Gallagher & Turner, 30 St Mary’s Place, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 7PQ
Towards the Light: The Paintings of Ørnulf Opdahl
Paperback 280 x 280mm
192 pages, with 164 illustrations and an essay by William Varley
The work of David Hockney (b. 1937) was discovered by influential dealer and gallerist John Kasmin while Hockney was still a student at the Royal College of Art, building London’s pop art scene alongside Peter Blake and RB Kitaj. Kasmin bought his first Hockey painting from the 1961 ‘Young Contemporaries’ exhibition, marking the beginning of a long relationship.
Kasmin speaks most highly of Hockney’s graphic works, describing his prints as ‘inventive, flowing and happy’. This exhibition brings together work from the celebrated ‘Brothers Grimm’ suite of etchings, published by Kasmin’s gallery in 1970.
When selecting from over 200 stories collected by the Brothers Grimm, Hockney was drawn to what he described as the ‘psychological strangeness’ of the tales depicted in this exhibition. They allowed him to explore the relationships and motivations of the characters, and presented the challenge of depicting the supernatural and surreal.
The resulting work has an unmistakably personal approach. Works such as ‘A Black Cat Leaping’ and ‘Inside the Castle’ use the same perspective devices as Hockney’s earlier portraiture, implying the artist’s point of view, and a relationship between the artist and (imaginary) sitter.
Hockney’s technical mastery of etching was already evident in his re-imagining of Hogarth’s ‘A Rake’s Progress’, published in the early 1960s. The ‘Brothers Grimm’ suite shows a more refined approach to the medium, dispensing with colour and exploring the subtleties offered by intaglio techniques. Solid line and deep-biting aquatint give depth, with traditional cross-hatching and soft-ground plates providing texture and tone.
‘Six Tales from The Brothers Grimm’ is the first exhibition in Gallagher & Turner’s new gallery space on St Mary’s Place, Newcastle upon Tyne. Alongside a sister gallery and workshop space in Newcastle’s creative hub at Hoults Yard (due to open in May 2016), Gallagher & Turner will present an ever-changing programme of selling exhibitions, specialising in the best of 20th century British art, alongside some of our favourite local artists and international names.