Thursday, June 24, 2010

June Gloom? Evading doom!!

After completing a long and painful master's thesis proposal process, submitted at the beginning of June, I naturally found out that there were hours and days more work to be done! I underestimated the difficulty of devising a research question that is specific and narrow enough to cover in 100 or so pages over the course of a year. However, I think I've finally got it:

How do Rolf Groven's parody landscapes, like "Oljemaleri" (1975) satirize Norway's contemporary relationship with nature? Does he use irony to show the dichotomy between a spiritual reverence for nature and utilitarian exploitation of nature?

Check out his work here:,

 Copyright Rolf Groven, 1975

Rolf Groven is a contemporary Norwegian painter born on 11 March 1943. He is a self-professed environmentalist. Groven's paintings are political parodies rendered in a figurative style. He repaints the most famous works of Norwegian artists (including The Scream by Edvard Munch and Bridal Procession in the Hardanger Fjord by Adolph Tideman and Hans Gude). He contemporizes these images by adding loaded symbols of unsustainable development or environmental destruction (oil rigs, coal-fired power plants and flooding from global warming). I suggest that Groven's satirical paintings look at environmental issues from a pragmatic (albeit hyperbolical) perspective. His works are an explicit cry for change, using satire to condemn political corruption and flawed policy. He exaggerates problems in the landscape, perhaps in hopes of inspiring policy change.

His use of comedy toward and environmentalist end is rare from an international perspective, and almost unprecedented in Norwegian art. There have been several influential illustrators from Norway and Scandinavia (the Muhammed cartoons scandal a few years ago put Denmark on the map for political cartooning), but it is a rare case when their satire deals with environmental issues. Groven's paintings of exaggerated destruction thereby command the viewer's attention, not only thanks to their skillful rendering but also the originality of the subject matter.

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