I have a contemplating approach to my work, where nature's cycle always is
my focus. The different moods of day and night; the moon with its powerful
symbolism and influence in our lives.
The symbols I use in my pictures are often universal and strong loaded.
In times where nature is threatened on so many levels, it is natural for
me to have a reaction and an unrest towards this, but without losing hope!
Not to be nostalgic, but to express a state I believe that we need.
Meditations and quiet moments, reminders of our common connection in
nature. My abandoned houses and landscapes mirror our time of unrest, with
references to both decay and belonging.
A house is a face; maybe the most comforting symbol that we know -
especially when we call it "home"
I have to seek behind my motives, feel the skeleton, and be able to
It is important for me to interpret, instead of reproduce the landscape.
North Norwegian "Candelaria"
Eva Harr’s paintings and lithographs look rather straightforward to begin
with. North Norwegian mountain formations in dim light appears to be the
recipe by which many of her works have been made. But on closer scrutiny,
we find behind these images a complex of, in part, contradictory impulses.
In her work, I find an unusual combination of earthly piety, celestial joy
and symbolic melancholy. This is especially well expressed in her
landscapes. Uniting these concepts in a single, coalescent work of art is
an artistic feat.
The earthly appears in the general perspective, with its high horizon. The
artist’s point of view is on or near the ground. Her gaze is more a
downward than an upward one. The horizontal dominates over the vertical.
The part of the landscape that rises up, is far away and high up in the
image. When a road enters the landscape in front of us, it bravely leads
us some way across the image surface towards the horizon, before failing
its bold intent and turning off and exiting the image. There is also an
earthly element in the way the artist puts colour to canvas. It is
painstakingly mixed on the palette, and is not achieved by adding fresher
colour to the canvas and mixing it there.
The pious aspect is expressed by the modesty with which she interprets the
North Norwegian countryside. She is not presenting proud, scenic views.
Familiar mountain formations appear subdued, almost anonymous or more
easily accessible. They are more decorative than topographically
realistic. They have been tamed, are no longer wild; they are esthetically
pleasing, not sublimly intimidating. We are not looking out across a
rolling sea, nor do we have a calm fjord before us. She is not standing in
front of the landscape, taking it home with her as some spoils she has
plundered. It is the memory of the landscape she captures in her images,
not the landscape itself.
The celestial is expressed in the vital role played in the composition by
the sky and its light, like a conclusion at the very top of the image
surface. All light in the image comes from the sky. It is as though we are
present at the crack of dawn on the first day after God said, “Let there
be light.” “And there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he
separated the light from the darkness. God called the light ‘day,’ and the
darkness he called ‘night’. And there was evening, and there was morning
—the first day.” (Genesis 1). We see the celestial light, but also the
celestial darkness. Because the sky is so bright, we see the landscapes
below in backlight, and they are therefore enveloped in darkness. Thus the
light does not come from the Sun, like a spotlight creating light and
shadow, but from above, from the firmament, spreading itself carefully
across the entire landscape. It is as though it is both night and day
simultaneously. The landscape appears to be animated by the celestial
The joyful aspect does not emerge with great pomp and circumstance, it has
been tamed by the pious and the earthly. It is a mature artists love of
the landscape, not a young girl’s infatuation. The paintings seem to be
characterized by a serene delight in the artist’s own experiences of
nature, which is probably also connected to the joy of being able to
capture such experiences in the paintings.
The symbolic aspect is found in the overemphasis of particular features of
the landscape, which give reality a quality of unrealty, of something
strange. Mountains may be rendered more symmetrical than they actually
are; if there is a building in the painting, it will often be unnaturally
long; a road may curve like the track around a sports park; the light in
the sky may resemble the round horizon at a theatre; light from far away
houses looks like cat’s eyes at night; the Sun, or is it the Moon, looks
like a pale Japanese lantern; the stars are passive points of light with
no beams; the time of day is indeterminable. This gives many of the
elements in the picture a symbolic character, in as much as they stand for
something other than what they themselves actually are. What they stand
for is not unequivocal. This is why we can use the paintings to make our
own accounts of what they actually represent. The symbolic and slightly
artificial aspects also seem to be expressed in a number of unusually low
and long formats, in contrast with others which are more or less square.
The melancholic aspect is expressed in a certain mood of quiet and
introverted sadness that characterizes the entire amosphere. The symbolic
features of the paintings may easily be interpreted as an expression of a
certain tristesse. We see no people. The artist appears to be alone in
Nature’s vast expanse of space.
“Time stands still in a slow stream of eternal moments,” I wrote in the
foreword to an earlier catalogue for Eva Harr. We stand there in silence
with her, in Nature’s own abandoned cathedral. We are not quite sure
whether it is the final light of evening that is shining through its
celestial stained windows, or the first light of day. The images express a
captured longing for precisely this mood and this doubt. Perhaps it is her
way of expressing the homesickness which in various different fashions
seems to characterize the works of many North Norwegian artists who live
in the south.
“Art is nature interpreted through temperament.” This was one of the
commonest defititions of art a few generations ago. It fits Eva Harr’s
paintings well, indeed, exceptionally well. It is no simple or
uncomplicated temperament that has witnessed the North Norwgian
countryside, and wishes to capture the memory of it. On the contrary, it
is a complex and multifarious one, and one that is not easy to understand.
It is a reined and unassuming temperament, not vehement and excited. Can
we, with reference to this definition of art, permit ourselves to
interpret this artist’s temperament by way of her art? Or is it rather
Nature that has the temperament, and the spirit of the place itself that
presents itself on Eva Harr’s canvases? See for yourself, and find your
Dag Solhjell, Ph.D.