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Håkon Bleken

February 9 – March 4, 2023

Press Release

Galleri Brandstrup is proud to present a solo exhibition of charcoal drawings by Norwegian artist Håkon Bleken. The exhibition, titled "Kull" (Charcoal) opens on February 9 at 6pm and will feature works created from the 1970s up to the present day. This marks Bleken's first solo exhibition dedicated solely to charcoal drawings since 2004.

Bleken is celebrated for his diverse range of media but is best known for his paintings and charcoal drawings, which present both detailed compositions and abstract simplicity. His breakthrough as an artist came in 1971 with a series of charcoal drawings called "Fragmenter av et diktatur" (Fragments of a Dictatorship). His approach to charcoal drawing was seen as innovative and exciting.

Today, his charcoal drawings are considered some of his most striking and powerful works. The media allows him to create deep contrasts and a wide range of tonal values, which he uses to great effect in his compositions. He is known for his ability to create a sense of movement and energy in his drawings, often depicting figures or scenes that appear to be in motion or caught in a moment of tension.

Bleken's political activism is evident throughout his art, and particularly in his charcoal drawings. Bleken is a liberal thinker, whose art reflects his commitment to freedom of expression and human rights. He uses art to express strong opinions, often indirectly commenting on fundamental human behaviour, social and political issues and convey a sense of urgency and a call to action. His charcoal drawings are cleaner and rawer, allowing for expressions that cannot be conveyed in his paintings.

In addition to the political and social commentary, Bleken's charcoal drawings are also known for their technical skill and masterful handling of the media. He uses a variety of techniques, including layering, blending, and erasing, to create a sense of depth and texture in his compositions. His drawings are admired for their ability to convey a range of emotions, from sorrow and despair to hope and optimism.

Bleken was educated at the Norwegian Academy of Fine Arts and later worked as an associate professor at NTH, where he taught drawing to architecture students and co-founded the artist collective Gruppe 5. He has several significant public installations to his name, including at St. Olav's Church, the Oslo Concert Hall, and Oslo Central Station. His works are included in the collections of several major museums and cultural institutions, including the National Gallery of Norway, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Norway, and the Kunsthalle zu Kiel. In 2009, he was appointed to Commander of the Order of St. Olav, and in 2005 received the Anders Jahres Kulturpris. He is widely considered one of Norway's most prominent and influential contemporary artists.