“A BIG HOLE IN – ASTRUP’S PAINTING”
- Ludvig Eikaas and Nikolai Astrup
Opening Saturday 23 March at 1 PM by Magni Øvrebotten, head of NRK Nynorsk mediesenter.
Musical performance by Indre Sunnfjord spelemannslag.
They grew up in the same small town of Jølster. Could its nature and people have influenced their body of work? In Eikaas’ piece, Stort Hål i -Astrup Bilæte (A Big Hole in – Astrup’s Painting), he sees the Fjærland Tunnel as a hole in Astrup’s landscape.
There are plentiful depictions of nature; from Eikaas, Lørdagskveld i Jølster (Saturday Evening in Jølster) portrays an idyllic and tranquil landscape. Something similar is seen in Astrup’s Soleienatt (Buttercup Night) motif. Both illustrate the local and personal, as seen in Eikaas’ home Kristentunet (The Christian Yard), or Astrup’s childhood home, the rectory, rendered in a serene children’s drawing.
Having been raised in farm country, both artists depict working life: Astrup’s Plognatten og Heim frå arbeid (Plow Night and Home From Work) and Slåttonn og Tømmerkøyrar (Haymaking and Timber Running) by Eikaas. Both included a horse in their first woodcut. Although Jølster is innland, both artists relate to the fisherman.
The modernization of the community began during Astrup’s life and was well underway when Eikaas was growing up. Each artist was urban in his own way as well, inspired by their travels as students. Astrup with depictions of Denmark, Venice, Tunisia and Dublin, and Eikaas with Florence and Venice, among others.
A love of music and dance may be their greatest common denominator. Eikaas with the fiddle which was a part of daily life as well as celebrations. Eikaas’ Skyttardansen (The Huntsman’s Dance) and Astrup’s Jonsokbålet (Midsummer Bonfire) both show dancing and festivity in Jølster. Astrup depicts the dancers in a manner which allows us to recognize the different dance steps. Dances in barns and lodges were a part of the culture during the lives of both artists. In Sunnfjordingar på veg heim til jul (Sunnfjorders on their way home for Christmas) Eikaas tells of a time when the purchase of harder libations required a trip to the city, and how the journey home might turn out. Both befriended and associated with local musicians.
Both Astrup and Eikaas had close ties to literature. Among other literary works, Astrup illustrated Kincks short stories and Bjørnsons farm tales, while Eikaas illustrated Henrik Ibsen and Jakob Sande.
Astrup’s portraits were often of familiar locals with whom he had close relationships, while Eikaas moved in wider circles outside the village. Astrup’s Lite sjølvportrett (Small self-portrait) is reminiscent of the simple lines frequently employed by Eikaas, particularly a number of self-portraits.
Both grew up around weaving and textiles. Astrup’s mother was one of the foremost weavers in own, and Astrup drew patterns that were woven by his mother as well as the sheriff’s wife, Marie Lind. Among his work we see a study of a textile from the middle ages, perhaps sketched during his time in Trondheim. Astrup painted a total of six banners for the youth leagues in Jølster and on Svanøya. Both artists married textile designers; Engel Astrup printed aprons for traditional costumes, as well as tablecloths and curtains, while Eikaas’ wife, Synnøve Anker Aurdal, was a pioneer of modern Norwegian weaving art. Anker Aurdal and Eikaas joined forces on a commission to embellish Håkonshallen in Bergen, which was completed in 1961.
Further, Eikaas made a mackerel-motif print on light-colored yardage with which to sew himself a “mackerel suit”, later worn in a self-portrait. When Eikaasgalleriet (the Eikaas Gallery) opened in 1994, he dressed the museum guards in mackerel suits; the women wore the the mackerels vertically to enhance their slender elegance, while the men’s suits displayed the fish horizontally.
Curator: Solveig Berg Lofnes, Manager of Eikaasgalleriet and Astruptunet, SFKM
Photographs: Ludvig Eikaas, Skytterdansen, 1954 and Nikolai Astrup, Priselde, pre-1917.
Translation: Solveig Naomi Sæther