Kai Fjell

Kai Fjell 2 2

Andreas Siqueland
The forbidden forest (spring lake)
, 2023
Akryl på lerret / Acrylic on canvas
350 x 929 cm

The landscape just outside the museum has inspired Siqueland in the creation of the large canvases in this room. The shift between outdoor and indoor spaces aims to challenge our understanding of the surroundings and how they influence our experience of artworks.

The architect who designed the museum (Per Faltinsen) has given this room a special status; the curved staircase and sightlines from the room below make the artworks exhibited here appear significant. The elevated position of the room can resemble a stage, and the associations with the exhibition as a scenography for Hafsten's collection are evident. By placing a bed in the room, Siqueland suggests that this is a bedroom.

Halvdan Hafsten has stated: "I thrive among sad images, perhaps because I never get to the bottom of them" (Erle Moestue Bugge, Stavanger Aftenblad). Although the themes in Kai Fjell's paintings vary, many would agree that the images are characterized by a somber atmosphere. The motifs in the paintings are dominated by centrally placed female figures. Several of the women are looking down, and the downcast gaze can be interpreted in various ways. In the room, there is also Siqueland's painting Shame, depicting a naked male figure with the same downward gaze. Historically, a woman's downcast gaze and asexual posture are signs of virtue, as depicted by Kai Fjell in the painting Enken (The Widow). Why is it that a man's naked body is perceived as something shameful, while a woman without clothes is seen as a beautiful object? The seated women in Kai Fjell's paintings can also be interpreted within a Madonna tradition, which is evident in the painting Mor og barn (Mother and Child). The tension between the pure, virginal female figures and the naked male figure is intensified by the bed in the middle of the room.

Kai Fjell (1907-1989)
Kai Fjell's paintings are more poetic and less political than several of the artists in the Hafsten collection. The many symbolic elements suggest an influence from surrealistic art, but Norwegian folk art also played a crucial role for Fjell. In addition to being a painter, he was a graphic artist, draftsman, and illustrator. He illustrated several texts, such as Rolf Stenersen's "Spinn etter Rimbaud" (1946). Fjell was a student at the School of Arts and Crafts in 1927 and the Academy of Fine Arts in 1927-1928. Like several artists in the Hafsten collection, he was also strongly influenced by the exhibition of German expressionist art shown at Kunstnernes Hus in Oslo in 1932. A few years later, in 1937, he achieved artistic breakthrough with a solo exhibition at Kunstnernes Hus.