The City as a Motive

My city

The city I live in is called Trondheim. There are some places here that inspire me to think about backgrounds and settings. Several buildings I used to walk past on my way to work are Art Nouveau style. Some have sculptures in the garden. It’s a pleasure when you see something beautiful. I haven’t painted statues before, but it will certainly come.

Cities are a fundamental part of nature, our nature. Each country has its capital, every part of the country has its village. Cities are homes, dwellings, frames of our lives.
If you choose to use a city as a motif, you usually want to describe its beauty, its lyrical value. And often people are involved, either as foreground figures or included in the streetscape.

My way of looking

So what will be my expression? What does a city mean to me? The surroundings tell us a lot about ourselves. Buildings show how we live, in poverty or wealth, with natural beauty or the opposite. The time of day, the light, the weather play into the experience.
The city is, in a way, a time and a place. A framework about what is going on.

A River or a Harbour

A large river flows through the city, the River Nidelven. The dark hillside behind, with the settlement of houses, I have already painted versions of several times. Pictures of painters I found online and were inspired by, who used cities as backgrounds, were, for example, Brueghel the Elder,  and more recently, Balthus and Delvaux. Everyone has their personal look at buildings, at a city expression.

Other Painters of Cityscapes

Delvaux was an admirer of Balthus and often used figures that go into the landscape with their backs to us. He was also inspired by Chirio. The city becomes a different and mysterious place, largely due to the use of color and light. You recognize streets and buildings but you get a sense of something foreign. It reminds me that I often dream of cities I’ve never been to, but feel I should know nonetheless.

Balthus painted the city as a closed world where humans live as if in an aquarium of harmonious colors. We follow the character who walks inward into the picture with his back to us.

Pieter Brueghel the Elder used the city as a frame in his pictures. In the Tower of Babel we see the city as a colorful mosaic behind the tower.

War, ruins and lonely men

Oil painting, titled: After war

Oil painting, titled: The man from the city

Oil painting, titled: Homeless

Everyone needs a home, a base. In a war one can lose one’s home, one who is poor cannot afford it. Our own body is a home for our consciousness.

Why would I paint these lonely men? They are searching for something, security, warmth, freedom? There are many symbols that are enigmatic to me.