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Vi elendige og andre bilder

Håkon Bleken

January 16 – February 8, 2020

Press Release

t is with great honour that Galleri Brandstrup presents the two distinct extensive exhibitions by Håkon Bleken, titled "Vi elendige" (the miserable) and "Andre bilder" (other paintings). Håkon Bleken (1929) has been one of the most prominent Norwegian artists over the last forty years, and has had immense influence on the Norwegian contemporary art scene and is considered a national master. The exhibitions will open 16 Januar, 2020 at 6 pm.

Bleken is what can be described as a literary painter, and his works often revolve around close and local subjects such as current matters, the paintings in the two exhibitions move between expressive abstraction and figuration, landscape and portrait, societal and everyday life.

The title of the exhibition “Vi elendige" which is displayed in the main gallery plays on Victor Hugo's 1862 novel The Miserables, themed around rejects from society. Collage has a central place in the exhibition, creating a backdrop of both society's aesthetic and political debates, which contrasts to the advertisements used to create the collage; pointing to man’s simple and superficial needs.

His works tell stories; of injustice, of victory and of loss. Human suffering and social activism are subjects that often reappear in Bleken's works and his work is always relevant. He revives a particular type of socio-political anxiety from the 1950s, and simultaneously, he chooses up-to-date topics of the current era. The seriousness of life in his works are often contrasted with the joy of his artistic challenges, and his works have gradually become both furthermore dynamic and expressive, applied with mature and energetic brush strokes. The political connections in his paintings are particularly evident in the collage titled Hyllest til Paul Celan (Tribute to Paul Celan) showing pictures taken from the book " Den gule stjerne " by Gerhard Schoenberner, which documents the suffering of the Jews during World War II.

Tom Egil Hverven writes in the exhibition catalog:

“A particular poem by the Judeo-German poet Paul Celan has inspired the painting. Celan was born in Chernivtsi (German: Czernowitz) in the then Romania, now Ukraine, in 1920. The parents died in the Nazi death camp. The son, Paul escaped. He settled in Paris, but plagued by poor conscience over the family's fate after the war, he took his life, fifty years old, in 1970, after publishing some of the last century's most important poetry collections in German, that is, in the languages of his abusers."

Included are also Bleken’s recognisable form; the triptych, which in "Vi elendige" display the overall theme of the exhibition: love, indifference and hatred, which is also the title of the two eye-catching series " Triptyk og elskovskampen ".


“Vi elendige" will be shown in Galleri Brandstrup's main gallery: Galleri Brandstrup, Tjuvholmen Allé 5, 0252 Oslo

"Other paintings" will be displayed in Galleri Brandstrup's temporary satellite gallery: Galleri Brandstrup Satellitt, Lille Stranden 3, 0252 Oslo