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 convey.
It is important for me to interpret, instead of reproduce the landscape.

Eva Harr

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 light.

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 own answer.

Dag Solhjell, Ph.D.