Arne Ekeland


Andreas Siqueland

The forbidden forest (floods and fires)
, 2023
Akryl på lerret / Acrylic on canvas
450 x 1100 cm

Arne Ekeland's paintings reflect a strong commitment to humanity in society and society in humanity. He grew up among industrial workers in Bøn, Eidsvoll, and identified with the working class throughout his life. As an artist, he also painted the local landscape from Bøn into his images, connecting the motifs and themes to the place he came from. In Vårbilde (Spring Image),  he paints a utopia; bright, happy people united in their dedication to labour and the times ahead. But even in this painting, we can recognize buildings and landscapes from Eidsvoll. The bright colors emphasize the optimism in Ekeland's painting.

Vårbilde (Spring Image) is exhibited against a backdrop of a forest landscape in warm colors, a forest on fire. In an intermediate layer between roots and treetops, white tree trunks can be seen, as if a mist has settled in the forest. The mood changes in the images that cover the walls of the room. Water infiltrates and floods the landscape. The paintings depict the destructive climate changes that characterize our time.

In the room, there is a bathtub with painted branches and details from a landscape, a large room divider in the form of a double-sided painting, and a colorful kimono. The room divider has window muntins on one side, as if we are looking out at a landscape. Both the bathtub, the kimono, and the room divider suggest that the room has a function in the collector's life. At the same time, interesting connections arise between the objects and images in the room, between the luminous human figures in Vårbilde (Spring Image) and the bathtub, between water as a purifying element and water as a destructive force.

Arne Ekeland (1908-1994) grew up among industrial workers in Eidsvoll and identified with the working class. Large parts of his oeuvre can be seen as an attempt to shape a Marxist iconography. He was a pupil of Axel Revold for a short period at the end of the 1920s but was never enrolled at the National Academy of Arts. Ekeland made a mark early on as an interesting painter, and after his major solo exhibition at Kunstnernes Hus in Oslo in 1940, he was described by many as the most significant Norwegian painter of his generation. Ekeland drew inspiration from everything from Renaissance painting to socialist realism, and the paintings in the Hafsten collection are all characterized by a strong painterly style. Ekeland had a significant impact on the next generation of Norwegian painters.