Magical Paintings Of Norway At Dulwich Picture Gallery

Nikolai Astrup: Painting Norway, Dulwich Picture Gallery ★★★★☆

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 31 months ago
Magical Paintings Of Norway At Dulwich Picture Gallery Nikolai Astrup: Painting Norway, Dulwich Picture Gallery 4
Astrup's paintings of fire are stunning. Courtesy The Savings Bank Foundation DNB/The Astrup Collection/KODE Art Museums of Bergen. Photo © Dag Fosse/KODE

What the Dulwich Picture Gallery does well is to bring lesser known artists to our attention. Last year we had Emily Carr and Ravilious — this year we kick off with Norwegian painter Nikolai Astrup.

At first glance he may look like a traditional landscape painter. But this show takes us on a journey through his portfolio, and the diversity is impressive. A verdant wide open landscape can be contrasted with a darker claustrophobic painting, where a solitary light from a window shines through the tangled branches of trees.

Often Astrup will leave the faces of his characters featureless, but then about turn and paint a photorealistic cabin. Astrup liked to experiment with the surreal too — one gnarled tree looks like it's morphing into a screaming man with flailing arms.

It's this constant re-invention by Astrup that had us hooked throughout, and there's a real treat in the last room. Astrup's painting of fire is captivating — whether it be a massive bonfire or the embers in a pot. The result is a sizzling end to a great exhibition.

Nikolai Astrup: Painting Norway is on at Dulwich Picture Gallery until 15 May. Tickets are £12.50 for adults, concessions available.

Last Updated 09 February 2016

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