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The Continuation

Kjell Erik Killi-Olsen

August 18 – September 17, 2022

Press Release

“The Continuation” is themed around Killi-Olsen’s personal experience of the world and its current events. As suggested in the title, it is an extension of the impact political events has had on his practice throughout his artistic career. The paintings pose questions about fairness, education, humanity and particularly: the way we are handling the human violation of nature and our planet. Human impact on nature is an ongoing subject in Killi-Olsen’s art. In 1989 the artist created one of the most iconic artworks in Norwegian contemporary art history, “Salamandernatten”, which represented Norway at the Biennale in Sao Paulo in 1989 and showed commitment to the rainforest and the brutal deforestation of tropical areas.

Displayed in the exhibition is oil paintings on canvas and bronze sculptures. The paintings depict rawer brush strokes and are more expressive than prior works and are all created in solitude in the artist’s farm in Vågå within the past year and a half. Using his whole body in the painting process the artist paints with his fingers and uses a pellet knife, the thick layers of paint have taken months, if not more than a year to dry. It is as if the flaming, violent colours of his paintings have coagulated in the surface, like scars of the soul. 

Kjell Erik Killi-Olsen has a long-standing position within Norwegian contemporary art, known for his distinctive world of paintings and sculptures; bizarre, grotesque, full of nightmarish monsters - but simultaneously bursting with poetic dream and tender love.  The paintings presented in “The Continuation”  illustrate an obvious affinity to Surrealism's cultivation of the boundless irrationality of the subconscious, of the irrational, and of the human collective unconscious. There are also clear features taken from Expressionism's driven, violent use of colour. Killi-Olsen masterfully uses these tools to tell stories about pain, suffering and hope. 

With his art Killi-Olsen shows the honesty and fragility in being human, where the spectator is awakened by seeing the paintings, because they portray us as we are, for better or for worse. His art is the opposite of superficial, it digs deeper into the core of humanity, which is why it is also timeless. The figures in his art have split gender identity, animal people and distorted characters with the strangest growths. In the midst of all the darkness there is an ambivalence, a kind of fragile tenderness that just almost drowns in fierceness.

Kjell Erik Killi-Olsen is known for his characteristic style of painting and sculpture and holds a central position in Norwegian contemporary art history and on the Norwegian contemporary art scene. Besides “Salamandernatten”, Killi-Olsen further made his mark with the sculpture “Mannen fra havet” in 1994, standing 430 cm tall, made in cast iron and crystal, located in Bø in Vesteraalen, placed by Artscape Nordland. He presented the large solo exhibition “Det var en gang” at Lillehammer Kunstmuseum in 2001. In later years he has exhibited at a number of national and international galleries and museums; From 2005 – 2007 the exhibition “Begynnelsen” was shown at Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Trondheim Kunstmuseum and Nordnorsk Kunstmuseum In Norway. In 2017 he showed the critically acclaimed solo exhibitions “Den lange reisen” at Galleri Brandstrup and “Killi-Olsen: skulpturer" at Dronning Sonjas Kunsthall in 2018 and was given the honour to be the yearly exhibitor at the Peer Gynt Spelet in 2019. His art is represented in permanent collections such as the National Museum, Norway, Norwegian Art Council, Norway, Göteborg Konstmuseum, Sweden and Museum of Modern Art, Brazil. He has completed public commissions for Artscape Nordland, Equinor, Aschehoug Publishing Company, Sola Airport Stavanger and Namsos Cultural Center among others.