June 10th-August 27th 2017
Munchmuseet on the Move-Kunsthall Oslo
Dronning Eufemias gate 34
Open Tuesday – Sunday 12-5pm
Teddy Røwde’s art is not now well known in the Norwegian art world, but in the 1930s and 1940s she established herself as one of the country’s foremost young painters and the National Gallery bought her work. If she had not moved to New York for love in the late 1940s, leaving her life in Norway and the art scene behind, it is likely that her work would have become far more widely appreciated. It is now twenty-five years since her last exhibition in Oslo, at Oslo Kunstforening in 1992, and now, in a period when the male-dominated canon of twentieth century Norwegian art is being intensively reassessed, we believe the time is right also to reconsider her work.
Røwde’s paintings did not conform to the fashions of the time: while her contemporaries were working on large-scale allegorical scenes, she painted tiny, intense and visionary landscapes influenced by post-Impressionism, Rousseau and Van Gogh. Though she was a student of Axel Revold and Per Krohg, and was also the subject of paintings by Krohg and by Reidar Aulie, she rejected the subjects, styles and formats of her mentors, to develop an individual technique – compared to ’embroidery’ by the critics – that emphasised movement within a unifying painterly texture.
After she graduated from the art academy in Oslo in 1931, Røwde moved to Paris to study further. There, she made a lifelong friend, a black American woman who we now know only as Dot, who took her to New Orleans and rural Lousiana. Later, she travelled to Hungary, to Mexico and Haiti, bringing her particular artistic vision to bear on the landscapes of these places and the people who worked in them.
The scenes that Røwde painted – whether in Oslo or Haiti – are not the sublime wilderness of the Romantic painters, but small-scale and man-made, reminiscent of Van Gogh’s cornfields, where the few figures are incidental in a landscape that seems almost supernaturally alive.
Røwde also produced a few extraordinary series of illustrations for children’s books, where she displays her technical graphic ability at the same time as she continues to produce vivid and detailed landscapes that are profoundly connected to her best work in oil painting.
For this exhibiton, we have chosen to focus on Røwde’s landscapes, and in particularly on her almost hallucinatory, animistic approach to painting landscape. Every leaf, every flower is considerd, until her tiny images seem to overflow with a life and energy that suggests an unusual sensitivity to the natural world. One of Røwde’s granddaughters remembers her saying how she found it difficult to walk through even any ordinary landscape, because she felt it was calling out to her, demanding to be painted.
Teddy Røwde – Dream Landscape is curated by Kunsthall Oslo and Christina Langaard Kjellevik. We would like to thank the many lenders for their generosity.