The Norwegian artist Elling Reitan has had a booming career, with numerous exhibitions in major galleries everywhere from Shanghai to New York. Taking inspiration from his surroundings and literature, Reitain creates colourful pieces that have enchanted an international art community.

From early childhood, Elling Reitan’s uncles introduced him to painting, an activity that turned out to be his life’s calling. Later, while working as a lecturer, he spent the weekends with the famous Norwegian artist Odd Nerdrum, who mentored him for five years.

When Reitan finally began exhibiting his own art, he received significant praise and attention, which in 1992 led him to quit his teaching job. “I wanted to fully emerge myself in the art,” he says. “On the day I quit my job, as I walked to the studio, I felt like I was flying.”

Not every artist gets the opportunity to completely rely on their art for a living, but Reitan describes himself as one of the lucky few. His work has travelled to many countries, exhibiting everywhere from New York to Shanghai. The spellbinding art is characterised by bold colours harmonising across a canvas, as well as the hidden use of the stroke pair, yin and yang. “My work has begun to take a more abstract form. I like to try something new every two to four years or so, but the use of bold colours will remain the same.”

Elling Reitan: Colours from New York to Shanghai

Allegori med kvinner.

Painting and the pandemic

Two years ago, the world as we knew it ground to a halt and societies across the globe locked down. The cultural aspect of society suffered a major blow as city streets were emptied of their booming life, concerts were cancelled, and galleries closed down. Yet, the growing isolation has allowed people to find solace in art, and artists like Elling Reitan are working harder than ever.

“I’ve worked and sold more than I’ve ever done,” Reitan explains. “I’m happy that people are discovering a love of art. To me, art is everything. I need to create and have art around me in order to be content, whether that’s at home or when I’m travelling.”

Elling Reitan: Colours from New York to Shanghai

Svevere over Nidarosdomen.


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