Showcasing the voluminous poetry of printmaking

In the historic area of Kvadraturen, right in the heart of Oslo’s art district, is a pioneering gallery with a contagious passion for preserving Norway’s printmaking heritage and promoting the craft in a modern art world.

By Linnea Dunne | Photos © Kunstverket

“Nordic printmaking as a tradition started when Edvard Munch (1863-1944) experimented with graphic art as a contemporary medium in the 1890s. Building on these traditions, Nordic artists have evolved the craft, common influences being melancholy and a strong connection to the characteristic nature of the Nordic regions,” says Petter U. Morken. He is the director of Kunstverket Galleri in Oslo, one of the leading privately owned galleries for prints and fine art on paper in the Nordic region, which showcases what they regard to be the foremost graphic artists from the region.

Opening later this summer, the exhibition Printing in the Infernal Method demonstrates artistic craftsmanship and the various processes involved in making high-quality graphic art, and will, for the first time, present prints by two of Norway’s foremost artistic drawers: Sverre Malling (born 1977) and his mentor Arne Bendik Sjur (born 1941). The exhibition is complemented by two legends in Nordic artistic drawing and printmaking: Swedish artist Roj Friberg (19342016) and the Norwegian-Danish artist Louis Moe (1857-1945).

“I try to add new content to established genres, creating a certain energy that arises between the polar opposites of the old and the new,” says Sverre Malling, who has recently been working with the traditional technique of lithography and describes a desire to get away from the modern, mechanical commodity production. “An original print is a work of art created by hand and printed by hand. It’s all about attention to detail and process – each print pulled off the press is a remarkable and rewarding experience,” he says.

Morken agrees: “The alternatives to the older techniques can’t compete with the rich and tactile qualities that come from producing prints using techniques such as etchings, mezzotints, dry points, lithography and woodcuts. The sheer time aspect – how long it takes for an artist to make a high-quality print – combined with the high level of expertise required to master the techniques, all contributes to the final result.

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