Aftenposten, Oslo: August 28, 1997
Aftenposten, Oslo: February 27, 1994
Aftenposten, Oslo: June 18, 1996
Aftenposten, Oslo: September 11, 1994
Bonytt, Demark: Nr. 1 / 1998
Dagningen Newspaper, Lillehammer: February 13, l997
Gudbrandsdølen Lillehammer Tilskuer: March 13, 1997
Hamar Arbeiderblad: November 15, 1997
Norway Times, USA: No. 34, September 11, 1997
Aftenposten, Oslo: August 28, 1997
Dag Hol Heading for New York
by John Harbo
Next week Dag Hol will be exhibiting in New York. It is the first time he takes a chance in the art metropolis.
Dag Hol has already held a couple of exhibitions in Colorado and last year, he participated in a collective exhibition in New York. The new, one-man show, which opens next Tuseday in the artist-run gallery NOHO in Soho, will however be his first serious attempt to reach a larger, international public.
For Hol, it is an old dream which has finally cometrue. New York is, as it has been since the Second World War, the artists' capital of the world.
- When I now attempt to make contact with a larger public than the Norwegian, New York is an important entrance ticket, he says.
Simultaneously with the exhibition, he will be profiled by a full-page ad in the American magazine, Art News.
- Berlin is often mentioned with New York as a center for contemporary art. Does this project imply that you rate the United States on a scale higher than Germany?
- I would also really like to do something in Germany, says Hol, and reminds us that he was born there. - I think my style of painting would be a success there. The motifs are compatible with German tradition and spiritual life. Therefore I'll probably do something there later.
In New York he will be showing eight paintings in what he calls half-big format, which is to say about 50 x 60 cm format. In addition there will be six small motifs. All of them are landscapes, and his title for the exhibition as a whole is "Inner Landscapes".
- The landscapes are not confined to places. My aim is not to be a national romanicist, but to recreate the landscape so that it expresses inner feelings, or what you could call a recognition of longings, he says.
The concrete landscapes which are the point of departure for the paintings, can therefore be dramatized in the process.This can transpire through the choice of colors or by parts of the motif being changed. In the picture "The White Barn", which is a motif from Geiranger, ther was, for example a road in the foreground, which has been removed.
The exhibition in New York will last until September 21.
Aftenposten, Oslo: February 27, 1994
The Profound Thrill of Nature
By Dag Hol
In many cultures, the most powerful religious experiences have their origin in nature. The Navajo indians believe that "the mountain with wings" is a huge bird which originally brought with it their ancestors. When we Norwegians regard the painter Lars Hertervig's paintings, we see that he has transformed nature from something objective, and separate from ourselves, into something which represents the human spirit's mythologizing of the Universe.
The author of this chronicle is a painter who lives in Oslo.
In a questionnaire in the USA, the question was asked, as to where one had experienced one's greatest religious experiences. Surprisingly enough, a vast majority answered that it was not in the context of the church or religious rites, but rather, in the context of nature that they had experienced their strongest religious feelings.
In an age of sports and the great outdoor life, it can be thought-provoking to stop and think about what one could call the profound thrill of nature, and associate this with the Norwegian painter Lars Hertervig. (His birthday is during this Olympic Games; he was born February 16, 1830.) One can also think about an old legend of the Navajo indians of New Mexico in the US:
Out in the desert, a great cathedral-like mountain rises out of the plains. The mountain is called Shiprock, but in Navajo is called "the mountain with wings". The Navajo indians' legends say that long ago, this mountain came from the north like a giant bird and brought with it their ancestors. As we know, feathers are an important part of indian decoration. When one has seen indians dancing in all their traditional ceremonial decoration, one understands that they have an underlying comprehension of people being like birds. That is to say, their identity, their souls, resemble the bird: it lands somewhere, stays a while, and then flies off to some other hunting grounds. Just as easily as the bird flies off and disappears , just as fleeting is the life of the human being. During ceremonies and in everyday life, the indians live (lived) closely attached to their legends. In such a way, reality is also coloured by the legends. Therefore the mountain becomes a bird, a symbol of their deepest identification and origins. From this came the Navajos' soul, even though everyone can see that it is only a mountain.
But the myth does not just have an accidental point of departure. The mountain is really a mirror image of a psychological phenomenon which will become more obvious if we dwell on quite another culture, reflected in a tradition from India:
There is a yoga exercise where one lies flat on one's back. One experiences that one's breath goes in and out, lightly and without exertion. We can feel it as our breath flows into the nose and windpipe and way down into our lungs. With a little practice, we can also experience that our breath flow does not in fact stop in the lungs, but continues down into our abdomen and legs, out to our arms and up to the head. With even more practice and awareness, one can experience that the flow continues out of the body and spreads itself in a diffuse surface which has virtually no end. From the state of being a sort of windpipe, one's awareness comes to dwell more on the experience of being a part of an endless surface, where the point of departure, our "innermost", is the center of this surface, an Axis Mundis, the axis of the world. Just like the Navajos' Shiprock.
"We are drawn towards the singular"
We see parallel descriptions of the same phenomenon in different cultures. Because it is possible to "experience" the myth, through for example yoga exercises, it assumes a strange relevance which concerns us across and despite, quite different cultures. In all cultures - even today - we are fascinated by the the top of a mountain, by the highest cathedral, the mosque, by the graveyard on the flat beach and by the lighthouse at sea. We are drawn to the singular, that which distinguishes itself, like a vague picture of an indian identity.
But then the picture becomes veiled. As we lie on the floor and feel as if we are an elevation on the surface, thoughts perhaps flood into our heads, feelings, impressions of everything that is humdrum and impossible. They can literally pour down or shoot us up off the calm surface, and create a chaos of inner activity which overshadows our consciousness of silence and equilibrium. Dynamic streams of thought and bodily consciousness disrupt and take us out of our inner tranquility.
Here it is interesting to look at Hertervig's artistic development. His oil paintings can be delt into three periods. If we compare his first paintings with the breathing exercise we did on the floor, it is fascinating to see how the first paintings are full of chaos and impassivity. The central work from the 1850s, "Rullestadjuvet" ("Boulder Place Canyon") (Stavanger Faste Galleri, 1856), is heavy and melancholic. It is dark and gloomy; it is raining, and some light is barely breaking through a heavy, cloudy sky. The forms of the trees are rebellious as they crash back and forth in the gusts of wind.
Even though it is detailed, the stones and the fields are painted in a wild and dramatic way, reflecting an inner rebellion which almost pours out of the earth. The lightening which suddenly spits the darkness stresses the intensity and the despair. The painting reflects the same dynamic flow of thoughts and the same insistent physical sensations which we disturbed the yoga exercise.
"With a fading hope of finding the way"
The painting "Sommerlandskap i tordenvær" ("Summer Landscape in a Thunderstorm") (Nasjonal Galleri, 1856), is also painted in the same manner, even though the thunderstorm has lightened a bit. One's attention now rests on an over-dimensioned tree trunk which has a form like a hand desperately reaching up towards the light in the sky. It is the shout of an agitated mind questioning the meaning and constancy of human existence.
In the next period, the brown and dense colors have been replaced by transparent layers of glaze, which in the sky, particularly, impart an enamel-like glow. The landscape is still in a state of rebellion, particularly in the intensely beautiful and mystical picture "Gamle Furutrær" ("Old Pine Trees") (SFG): do the two trees grow downwards or upwards; are they upside-down with their roots in the air? No, but they are painted with such intensity of form and color that they grip a hold of our inner rebellion and need for release.
But now, the clouds have lifted; they are moving inwards, in over the mystical landscape, and almost joining the earth and the sky. Behind the misty ridges and twisted trees, we perceive high, snow-covered mountains - a distant panorama - as if it were the goal of our longings. And under huge trees walk two tiny people in over the frightening and dangerous, swampy landscape with a fading hope of finding the way in an obscure world. Hertervig is threateningly close to the most difficult in himself.
In "Skogtjern"("Forest Pond") (NG,1865), the surface finds its place in the chaos and dispels the twisted and the disturbing elements. The swamp water is now crystal clear, and the landscape opens up to the blue enamel sky. The clouds are still magical in the landscape, which has more depth, and more of a horizon. The close, chaotic elements are not longer as "disturbing".
In the third period of "bottom-of-the-fjord pictures", the use of color has again changed to cool tones, subdued and controlled, and great harmony and clarification are achieved. No intruding thoughts, no twisted trees, no chaos, but a mirror-like sea with people in static row-boats. Can they row right out to the mouth of the fjord, we wonder, right out to the eternal horizon?
"As a wandering in the world of mythology and legends"
We receive the answer in Hertervigs last central oil work: in "Borgøya" ("Castle Island") (NG, 1867), nearly all of the foreground is gone. Only a few lava-like submerged rocks, elegantly and thinly painted, provide a lookout point for our view. We are now stand exactly where we stood when we saw Shiprock. The smooth desert sand is replaced by the shiny surface of the fjord which has opened dramatically, and shoved all land to the side. We see as far as the eye can see, to the open sea. The cumulus clouds are no obstacle. In fact, they contribute to creating the wide-open perspective, the feeling of endless space. There are sailboats to go out to, but they stay near the center of the picture, near the over-dimensioned Castle Island, where it rises like an Axis Mundis, the center of the world, like Shiprock in the Navajos' legend, like the identification point in the breathing exercise. And to additionally prove this perspective, we must mention that Hertervig's earthly identification point was in fact Castle Island. Like the Navajos, "he came to earth" here - it was where he was born.
As such, the ring is closed. Hertervig's production can by a strange coincidence, be seen as a wandering in the world of mythology and legends. In such a way, he transforms nature from something objective and separate from ourselves, into something which represents the human spirit's mythologizing of the Universe. The indians and the primeval peoples' legends become in many ways, parallels to Hertervig's perception of the intimate unity of nature and the human spirit.
It is perhaps this intuitive and genuine genuine perception, this profound experience of nature, which provides the possibility for a feeling of totality and connection, and which makes people say that nature can give them their greatest religious experiences.
Aftenposten, Oslo: June 18, 1996
THE IDEA IS THE MOST IMPORTANT: Rembrandt's "Boat Builder and his Wife" from 1663. The master's concept has been compared with the Mercedes-concept: the most important is the quality and the idea behind it - not who actually executes the handwork. Odd Nerdrum has a large group of talented painters producing Nerdrum paintings.
Views about People and Views on Art
by Dag Hol
It does not matter how great an artist the teacher is, if the relationship is not to the advantage of the development of the student.
There are many painters in the figurative painting milieu who quite simply hope for the best candidate for the professorate at the Academy of Art, and have good arguments to support this. It is a shame that Per Ung's analytical behaviour is so poor in this respect that he cannot find an argument other than that of suspicion of envy and cowardice.
I think that it is a myth that it is so important to study under an important artist. As far as I can see in art history, there are very few instances of important artists giving rise to important students. Nerdrum has not had any important artist as a teacher either. Several important artists such as Rembrandt, Rafael and Rubens had their own schools which perhaps secured their own position as artists, but only in certain cases, created any independent artists. One day, Nerdrum is sure to take hthe entire Nerdrum School with him to New York and hold a huge exhibition. It will be a sensation and not only help his own career, but several of his most talented students might also get rich.
The Mercedes Concept
What Nerdrum has created, is not just a personal accomplishment. He has also repeated Rembrandt's success by gathering a large group of talented painters toproduce Nerdrum paintings. Some of them are so talented that it is sometimes difficult to see the difference between the master and the school, just as it also is with the Rembrandt School. An American art theoretician (S.Alpers) has compared Rembrandt's concept with the Mercedes concept: the most important is the quality and the idea behind it - not who actually executes the handwork. Nerdrum has re-introduced a sort of Mercedes concept to art history, and as such is unique in modern international art history.This will create great interest when it gets to be better known abroad and is presented in the right way. A number of questions will be raised, such as those concerning the traditional, romantic view of the artist as unique - and others concerning commercial possiblities.
The problem in this case is that in such an atelier atmosphere, there is a high degree of intolerance an lack of openness that prevails. Nerdrum's totalitarian vision of art works well in his private school and as a private project. However in a state-run academy of art which must accomodate a variety of seeking souls, each trying to find their own strings to play upon, the Nerdrum School will have an alienating, blocking and directly destructive effect on independent students. What ever became of the guy who painted "The Man with the Golden Helmet", which was long believed to be one of Rembrandt's central works? Most probably, he was destroyed as an independent artist by the dominating presence of the master.
It is not right that the state should pay for such a private project, which for the first, has shown itself to be economically viable, but which also will prevent other projects. If the state is to contribute something, it ought to pledge funds for investment in more of Nerdrum and his students' works, at least for the purpose of recording this phenomenon.
Away from Nerdrum
Art students who want to develop other perspectives in life that those which Nerdrum represents, ought to get away from his crippling dominance and wish for Jan Sæther as professor. For the choice of professor is not just a matter of "yes" or "no" to Nerdrum. It is just as much a choice of the person Jan Sæther, who represents a view of life which is much broader and more explorative than is possible in Nerdrum's rather grubby shadow. It is much easier to live with one's unfinished, unprocessed ideas under Sæther's guidance. With him, it is much easier to discuss things openly and freely on one's own premises, which is essential in a learning situation. The dialogue between one's own inner impulses and the teacher is something Nerdrum has never understood. Nerdrum holds discoherent monologues and is not open for the kind of searching dialogue which Sæther represents. It does not matter how great an artist the teacher is, if the relationship is not to the advantage of the development of the student. With Nerdrum, everything gets turned around. This does not simply imply empty pedagogy; it concerns views about people and views on art. The importance of the debate about figuration versus modernism is, in this context, only marginal and hardly relevant.
The artist today so often plays the part of a clown, as Nerdrum does, time and time again in the media. It can be refreshing, astonishing and occasionally, important. He is sure to manage to carry on in that role. But when meeting young artists, it is important to give them space for their own serious thoughts, their own questions, uncertainties and hopes. Such a dialogue is almost lacking in Norwegian art life today. Nerdrum and his followers will no doubt contribute to hindering the like. Jan Sæther, on the other hand, is both highly competent and professionally qualified for the position of professor. But not only that: his views on art and life make him precisely the right man at the right place (at the right time). More than anybody else, he can contribute to a profound debate about what art is really all about - as free as he is from the Nerdrum School and a mediocre debate on modernism. He has studied classical painting just as thoroughly as Odd Nerdrum, but on quite other terms.
This is an important and extraordinary aspect in Jan Sæther's qualifications: he has, throughout most of his career, been concerned with an alchemical perspective on art. The alchemists' goal was to study the process of life and the laws of transmutation, amongst other things, through experiments with chemical changes. It was this milieu which established the grounds for modern pharmacy and chemistry, but also the development of graphic and painting techniques. This has included a flow of cultures (Chinese, Arabic, European) from before year 0 to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Rembrandt did research based on such perspectives in his graphics and his painting. The black oil which has been so crucial for Nerddrum and other figurative painters' techniques for so many years, was re-discovered and re-introduced by Sæther.
By this, I am trying to imply that Sæther has a relationship to painting technique that is far more theoretically and historically founded than Nerdrum's, which is based more on personal intuition. I think that those who consult Sæther will witness a larger historical and explorative space concerning what one is concerned with than they will with the more impulse-and-personally-derived perspective which Nerdrum represents. Sæther is much more academic, analytical and thoughtful aboout his project and can to a greater degree open the student's own personal space. This is what figurative painting is really about, much more so than simply drawing a hand. To be able to put words to the process of what happens in the meeting of the artist and the object, both mentally and technically - can reveal entirely new dimensions in the understanding of figurative painting.
Give Nerdrum the St. Olav's Order and a large exhibition room at The Museum of Contemporary Art. It would be a suitable plaster for his wounds after 30 years of harassment. But give Jan Sæther the professorate if one wishes to give the figurative milieu a serious chance of a future in this country.
Aftenposten, Oslo: September 11, 1994
The Human Body in the Perception of Art
by Dag Hol
There has been a debate about the use of models at art institiutions. Do young artists receive a good enough introduction to drawing the human body? In today's chronicle, the painter Dag Hol establishes a much broader perspective on the matter. His hypothesis is that the human body has been the most fundamental object of meditation throughout art history, and he describes the artist's way of thinking: the conflict between always longing to "see" more deeply - and the temptation to give way to the easy way. As such, he outlines an entire philosophy of art.
The wonderful human body has been central in all artwork throughout time. This suggests what art is really about. The human being wants to see himself - to understand, to seize hold of and to recognize himself. The extroverted glance is primarily for the purpose of looking into himself. To achieve this, it is important to see the human being in all contexts, to see all human qualities as they develop. Whatever is hidden and not seen, will also forever be unknown.
"It is in our creativity and openness that we are able to see ourselves"
In the end, people's search for truth implies the creation of themselves in this life. To develop, to expand, to reveal, to open, to act and communicate. It is in our creativity and openness that we are able to see ourselves. It is only then that the possibility for dialogue, reflection and self-criticism arises. Concurrent with this, the ethical dimension also develops: that which must be concealed, appears to be dishonest, something which we cannot or do not want to give an explanation for.
All that we strive for also provokes elements of opposition, unwillingness, passivity and laziness. Human beings are deeply conservative, at the same time as we long for radical changes. In all societies, mental techniques have developed for the purpose of understanding one's self in this paradoxical position.
Contact with nature, meditation techniques, even prayer, are activities which, with varying results, can increase one's self recognition. In any culture, there has always been this need, in addition to the day-to-day struggle for existence.
Even though art has been of central importance in all societies, it would appear that the importance of art has been greatest - or at least the most visible - in our ubane Euro-American culture, where mental or contemplative techniques have been less widespread. If this is so, then the expression of art must, both for the artist and for society as a whole, fill the necessary place in our consciousness. Without mental techniques for the achievement of self-awareness, it becomes even more important to develop or be surrounded by artistic expression.
As our times are so dominated by crisis or disorientation, it can be useful to return to the original hypothesis: that the human body has been the most fundamental object of meditation throughout art history. This is a fact that has been forgotten in modern times, where the use of models amongst artists has virtually gone out of fashion. Parallel with this opposition from the artist himself has been an inherent scepticism amongst others as well, concerning the use of models.
Nudity has always provoked the well-off, the conservative, and the anti-perceptive elite of society, even amongst the elite who have considered themselves to be radical. This has been justified by such arguments as morality, modesty or that the human body is no longer relevant as far as cognition is concerned. The question is, nevertheless, whether this unwillingness is fundamentally based on a cultural opposition to meditation and perception.
The whole purpose of drawing nudes has been subdued not only by the moral and conventional beliefs, but also by institutions of learning as well. The use of uninteresting models posing in meaningless traditional positions - form against content - has contributed to the fact that everyone got tired of it. No one understood the point of it any more.
In Norwegian, the drawing or painting of a nude model is called "akt". This also means to act: the naked model, as a human being, without social or the atttributes of career - in action, in the process of creativity, acting the part to the full with all senses of self, agression, anxiety, despair, hope and longings. What happened to all this? Ex-pression?
For it is precisely through intimacy with this expression, through empathy with another person's spirit and personal visions, that one is given the chance to reflect, and also to like and to love. How can one stimulate art students to do this?
Our anatomy reveals that the human being is an incredibly complicated and integrated organism. Proportions and functions open the eyes of the art students, gradually, to the inner beauty, greatness and coherence of the human body, topped by the close and open, squinting eye. But for this, one needs time, not just the one-to-three minutes of a quick sketch.
A study of anatomy in a bleak pathology room can also be instructive. To reveal the musculature by first cutting through the skin and layers of fat, having to make decisions the whole time as to whether one is cutting too deeply or too little, provides a unique imtimacy to understanding the problems of form.
"One can interpret a great deal from a person's posture, but the face, and especially the mouth and eyes, are even more expressive."
An art student is extremely priviledged in being able to study the human mystery in peace and quiet - to be able to contemplate, for example, why musculature is so closely connected to and influenced by psychological and spiritual states. One can interpret a great deal from a person's posture, but the face, the mouth and the eyes especially, are even more expressive. Here, it is very difficult to distinguish the skin from the musculature, not only because the surface lacks a fat layer, but also because the muscles are finer and more flexible. This makes for greater expression.
It is the eye which makes the greatest impression, however, as it is in fact the only visible part of the brain, and here, the fibers are so fine that one can hardly see the structure. One can in fact see through the layer of cells, in the same way as in oil-painting, when one uses a lot of oil and the paint becomes transparent.
There is something translucent in the expression of an eye, just like looking up at the transparent, blue sky. We don't in fact see anything - we just get a sensation of eternity. In removing an eye and studying its construction, looking at a dead person in the eyes, one can make a discovery: what we in fact see, is the eye-ball, the iris and the pupil. But when we look at a live person in the eyes afterwards, we realize that it is not the white eye-ball, the iris or the pupil that we notice. What gives us the true impression of the person we are regarding is not, primarily, what we see physically. With our own soul, we see the spiritual and the living - totally different from the dead eye, which remains concealed and dead.
"Can we draw the living - life itself? It is far more difficult than drawing a hand."
The question is, then: can we draw the living - life itself? It is far more difficult than drawing a hand. Thus, the expression, "momento mori" - "remember that you will die" - assumes a new significance for us. Through our meeting with death, we have found life. Amidst the paradoxes and the contrasts balances truth itself. The study of anatomy is not simply a study of form or a question of technical proportions. The aim should be to grasp the deep-lying energy which makes the human being such a mystery.
But the study of the human body also has another dimension: as when using a meditation technique, one is confronted with one's own entity and psyche. One looks at the model, chooses the pose and movement, concentrates on the format, proportions and relationships. It is difficult to achieve. There is always something which can be improved.
One meets one's own limits, defeat and restlessness, even thoughone aso experiences hope, confidence and sincerity. In the confrontation with one's own drawing one will always see something one doesn't like. Often, one doesn't take time to actually look properly, and one draws what one thinks, instead. One's drawings therefore often resemble each other, because of the same blindness and lack of exactitude which repeat themselves every time.
One can, however, improve one's ability to see one's own mistakes by asking oneself questions such as: "Which mental processes come into play when I draw? Can I be bothered to feel the hastiness and the impatience which cause me to make decisions before I am really sure? What causes the impatience? Why is my sensation of the line beside the nose aways like that? To what extent does my impression of the model correspond with my other beliefs in life? Can I accept everything that vibrates and quivers in me and still not manage to look properly before I make a pencil stroke on the paper?"
Such questions can seem banal, but are nonetheless crucial. The artist relates to himself just as much as to the object. One's own personality develops in the meeting with the object one is depicting, and this is the essence of the creative process. One creates what one sees and the means by which to express it.
In reflecting on such affinities, a drawing exercise can, in the same manner as a meditation technique, become a perception process: it imposes on us openness and sensitivity to our inner impulses and our choices, such that we can look at ourselves in the eyes and devote ourselves to that which is most important, without being controlled by irrational and unfocussed aspects of our character or impulses.
"In the depth of beauty we dimly perceive the hypothesis for all that is human, in an otherwise chaotic world."
Thus perhaps art can help us to develop a less complicated devotion to beauty - and all the awe and respect this causes us to have for nature and for people. For in the depth of beauty we dimly perceive the hypothesis for all that is human, and even for all that is political and ethical, in an otherwise chaotic world.
Bonytt, Demark: Nr. 1 / 1998
Home Address: In the Middle of the Painting
By Egil Forbord
Dag Hol, one of the country's most popular artists, lives and works in a huge industrial location, in the midst of Oslo's proudest East Side, Gamlebyen. Here, he has "let himself go" on the walls. The result is like his pictures - loaded with atmosphere and mystique.
Picture caption: Dag Hol combines home, atelier and exhibition location at the top of a collossal building in the middle of one of the city's most exciting areas, Gamlebyen ("The Old Town"). The apartment consists of an enormous living room, kitchen, graphics studio, two children's rooms, and a private, self-decorated warehouse elevator! The roof is painted black, the walls are grey. The last, artistic finish, has been created by Dag Hol himself, with a sponge and thinned-down oil paint.
- When I was offered this place I didn't think much of the idea of living in this area (Grønland), says Dag Hol.
- In my last atelier on the other side of town (Skøyen), I got used, amongst other things, to the view over the fjord. But when I saw this huge industrial location of 340 square meters, I thought that it was totally fantastic. I decided right away, and asked the owners if I really could rent all this. The location has heaps of possibilities, and I like the industrial expression which has been so modern for so long in New York.
Dag Hol has transformed the apartment at the top of the United Dairies' old cheese factory to a creative cave, a kind of temple. The enormous living room, which is also atelier and office, is dominated by a portrait of the Jesuit saint, St. Aloisius, who has become the saint for aids-patients. (Another version of the painting was painted for a Catholic chapel in a hospice for aids patients in Stockholm.) The almost church-like atmosphere created by the saint is reflected in the interior otherwise - with all the old books, the dark walls, the pillars and the candelabras. The dark blue and dark red tones of the walls are inspired by the colors in our old (Norwegian) stave churches.
The entire apartment has been inspired by Hol's idea of "living in the painting". He has, for example, used a huge poster of Willian Turner as a basis for the colors in the end of the apartment which includes the kitchen, the bathroom and the bedroom. The dramatic cloud colors from the poster's sky are nowhere else. On one wall they are reminiscent of a sunset. Opposite, the entrance to the bathroom is a raw hole where the brick wall has been torn down.The lighting is subdued, and the effect is both erotic and mystical. The roof and walls are black and grey, some places treated with a sponge and rags by Dag Hol himself.
- Grey is an interesting color, he says. - In the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Rembrandt paintings are hung on pale grey walls, and it works much better than on white.
In the bedroom, the new wooden floors are sprinkled with tiny drips from the spray gun which was used to paint the room - and that's the way it's supposed to be.
The area of Grønland is one of the few places in the country with such an industrial character, and dynamic, multi-cultural influences, feels Dag Hol. In the evenings, he feels as if he is in exile. He doesn't have any neighbours in the buildings near by, other than the go-cart rink, a laid-down lumber warehouse and offices with dark windows. He doesn't know any artists that live like this. There aren't so many others who arrange exhibition openings the way he does, either. Between 500 and 800 people "visit" him when, for a week, he shows his paiintings in his own gallery in the apartment.
- I like to be in contact with the public, and I wish to show them something other than a boring studio with white walls, he says.
Dag Hol has just had a successful exhibition. Only a few, nicely packaged pictures are left, waiting for the buyers to come and collect them. On the floor of the apartment are also a row of small, unfinished oil studies. They are much in demand.
- They go right out - swoosh! , says Hol. - It can seem commercial, because I sell every single one of them, but that's just part of the truth. These small pictures are also my "avant-garde-thing". I use them for experiments: in the small formats I play - with colors, forms, motifs, composition and technique.
As opposed to the Impressionists who painted layer upon layer of paint - each layer covering the layer underneath - Hol uses a lot of oil with his colors, so that the underlying layers shine through and give the colors a special depth. The technique, which was developed by Jan van Eyck in the 14th Century, also makes the paintings more durable.
- Lars Hertervig must have used this "glazing" technique a lot as well, Hol feels. - But even though the technique I use is really old, my paintings are modern, as opposed to what many people called modern, that is, such as the pissoir exhibited by Duchamps, the first artist to exibit such an object in a museum, in the 1920s. It was revolutionary at the time, but today such strange things are very conventional. Otherwise "most things" have been "done" in the USA ten or twenty years ago.
What is it in his art which appeals so strongly to people?
- Beauty, that's all, says Dag Hol. - In the deepest understanding of the word. I try to paint the deep longings which we all have. It's important, especially these days, when there aren't any values any more and everything just "floats". I'm trying to "go deeper" than contemporary culture - I'm trying to make something which will be beautiful forever.
Even though Dag Hol travels a lot around Norway, collecting inspiration for his motifs, he has his gaze focused further afield. He is advertising his paintings in Art News, the world's biggest art magazine - and he has recently held exhibitions in New York and Denver. His next stop is the giant Chicago Art Fair.
Page 14: Dag Hol is one of the few artists who combine atelier and home. - Part of the idea behind the decorating was to live amidst all the brush strokes, he says. Hol explores all sorts of Norwegian landscapes, and recreates them later in his atelier in the old part of Oslo.
"Hamlet" atmosphere in the middle of Grønland
Page 16: The bedroom "bathes" in darkness most of the day
Page 17: "Hol-ian" sunrise on the rough industrial wall above the oriental-inspired bedspread
Page 18: This Turner poster inspired the "cloud paintings" on thewalls
The kitchen is spartan, with the stove making its own "island" in the middle of the floor.