Exhibition: All year round
Lars Lerin is considered one of the most outstanding watercolour painters in the world. He is renowned for his unique technique and is represented at exhibitions in the Nordic countries, Europe and the USA. It is an honour and a great pleasure to be able to present Lerin’s work in Henningsvær and at Gallery Lofoten. The exhibition displays a wide range of the artist’s North Norwegian motifs and a variety of different techniques.
The artist has developed his own method of colour usage. Grey, blue and ochre may predominate in a variety of different shades. The shades can be deep and dark, or ethereal and bright, seemingly illuminating the image from the inside in a magical fashion. Nature has always been of pivotal importance in Lerin’s work. But they also reveal scenes from our own lives and our common history. Landscapes with pastures and birds, frontages, interiors, souvenirs from travels and meetings with different people. His works may appear both simple yet complex, conjuring up an sense of loneliness and alienation. The common denominator for all of them is that they touch something deep inside of us with their beautiful, distinctive motifs, characterized by melancholia and wistfulness, but also hope and warmth.
Lars Lerin was born in Munkfors, Värmland in 1954 and is today a resident of Hammarø just outside Karlstad. He began his studies at Gerlesborgskolan in Stockholm (1974-1975), followed by four years at Valands College of Art in Gothenburg (1980 – 1984). Throughout the 1990s he lived in the Lofoten Islands. With his portrayals of the north, featuring fishing villages and coastal landscapes, he has also inscribed himself in the history of Norwegian art.
After moving back to Sweden, he established his famous hall of art, Sandgrunn, in Karlstad, where there is a permanent exhibition of his work.
Lerin is also a gifted writer, having his own distinctive style and warm, vibrant storytelling technique - often revealing documentary content where life and art converge. He has illustrated many of his books himself. Since his debut in the 1980s, he has published almost 50 books, earning the prestigious “August Award” in 2014 for the one entitled “Naturlära” (Nature Studies).
In 2016, he was voted TV Personality of the Year in Sweden. Lars Lerin has an honorary doctorate at Karlstad University. By virtue of his paintings, books, radio and TV programmes, and not least his accommodating personality, Lars Lerin today emerges as Sweden’s most popular artist.
A new approach to Lofoten – Lars Lerin
Lars Lerin’s watercolours are quite different to those made by his Norwegian predecessors. To be sure, he has painted views featuring both mountains and buildings, as in “View of a Village” (1989), “Frost. Lofoten” (1990s), “Fjord” (2015) and several of the watercolours entitled “Motif from Lofoten” (undated).
But they are seldom a matter of bright Lofoten panoramas like those sought after by the tourists. As a rule, darkness broods over the landscape, so that only parts of it are visible. The rest is shrouded in an almost impenetrable darkness. This is seen clearly in “Fjord” (2015), where in the foreground a number of gulls can be seen flying low over the water, while a few buildings stand gathered together on the shore, under cover of the encumbering darkness.
On the left hand side, there are rows and rows of white handwriting. It is not easy to read, but these writings constitute a Verfremdung effect which prevents us from empathising with the picture.
Other ways of doing this include placing smaller pictures within the bigger ones, as with “Henningsvær, Lofoten” (1990s) and two works entitled “Motifs from Lofoten” (both from 1999), where he also uses handwriting in the picture. All in all, it is not the magnificence of the landscape that characterizes his watercolours, but rather it is the solitude inherent in the darkness that prevails. Often his works may portray only one single, solitary building on the edge of a tiny stretch of coastline, where the building tells us something of the plight of mankind in such a rugged landscape.
Examples of this include “Motif from Lofoten” (c. 2015) and “Henningsvær (2016). He might also close in on a fishing boat as in “Reflection” (c. 2000), or a fish warehouse, or a car repair shop as in “Garage in Lofoten” (1990), or paint a caravan parked right next to a house. In this respect, it is a different Lofoten we meet in Lars Lerin’s works, a landscape that tells us something about the existential conditions in an environment shrouded in the darkness of the arctic winter. However, in some of his works, like “Journey” (undated), one may also find the northern lights that the tourists in ever increasing numbers come here to see.
Perhaps we can sum up Lerin’s Lofoten works with the help of “Night Wanderer” (1990s). Here a solitary man comes walking towards us, wading through deep snow along a street where the northern lights are seen flickering in the sky above. But that is all behind the night wanderer’s back, so he neither sees nor enjoys it. He is locked inside himself in the cold, walking towards the loneliness beyond the city limits.
Painters of Lofoten
The gallery contains an ample collection of paintings by widely acknowledged artists like Otto Sinding, Gunnar Berg, Even Ulving, Adelsteen Normann, Einar Berger, Ole Juul, Thorolf Holmboe and several others.