Kai Fjell Scenes
The Munch Museum and Kunsthall Oslo are pleased to welcome you to the exhibition Kai Fjell: 'Scenes', the first major presentation of Fjell’s work in Oslo since the memorial exhibition at Kunstnernes hus in 1990.
Kai Fjell (1907-1989) was educated at the Norwegian National Academy of Craft and Applied Art in 1927 and the National Academy of Fine Arts from 1928 to 1929. After his debut exhibition at Oslo Kunstforening in 1932, at least one critic advised him to give up painting for good. Instead, Fjell returned to the studio and redoubled his efforts. The result, a major exhibition at Kunstnernes hus in 1937, was an instant critical, public and commercial success which placed Fjell amongst the foremost artists of his generation.
Scenes is a title taken from one of the poems in Spinn etter Rimbaud, although it also points towards Fjell’s production in general.
The drawings form the heart of the exhibition. Their simple, precise lines are melancholic, yet simultaneously direct, gentleness and violence balanced alongside one another.
Several of the paintings deal with the ravages of war and its consequences. In The Bombing of Leiret (1943) we see the German bombing of the town of Elverum, where Fjell had lived on the family farm in his youth. In the painting Refugees (1939), we are confronted uncomfortably by the direct gaze of the young woman who is the painting’s primary subject; in the epic The Refugees Return (1944), the gaze of the central figure is ambivalent, and the painting speaks of a solidarity born from suffering.