The paintings of Ørnulf Opdahl (born 1944, Alesund, Norway) explore the vast and majestic landscapes of the west coast of Norway, where the artist lives and works. Moving between observation and abstraction, Opdahl employs strong elements of colour and shape to build up compositions that highlight the scale of his environment. Dark masses of towering mountains, often draped in fog or snow, are offset by pin pricks of manmade light shining in the black; signs of humanity's small existence amongst these epic proportions of nature. The sheer cliff faces of the deep fjords, impenetrable but for a few solitary rays of sunlight, merge with the darkening skies. The interplay between dark and light against such backdrops suggest a sense of both the ancient and the eternal.
Opdahl's paintings, watercolours and prints relate poetic encounters between sea and land, storm and stillness, fjords and steep mountains, and dense clouds descending towards land from the ocean. Though his works portray the dramatic landscape of the Western Fjords they are less concerned with a specific place than the essence of the natural world around him.
'Ørnulf Opdahl's intense, lyrically charged work projects the sort of nourishing presence of the elemental - of light and dark, earth and fire, wind and water... If his early work can be rich in matters symbolic and mythic, its development over the last decades evinces a clear movement away from any suggestion of what used to be called 'literary art' in favour of an ever deeper engagement with the poetics of pure painting - albeit, most importantly, painting charged by the sublime presence and power of nature in the Far North'. (Dr Michael Tucker)