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 13 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.

Top: Fjordnatt, etching, 23.5 x 17.6cm
Bottom: Höst, etching, 17.6 x 23.5cm

© Ørnulf Opdahl

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