Jarle Rosseland
Thursday, August 27, 1998

Rosseland captures the spirit of Norway

Rosseland captures the spirit of Norway

He grew up in a special artists' community created around Edvard Munch's atelier at Ekely in Oslo.  His father was a self taught Oslo painter, printmaker and sculptor, so the family had moved to the community from Bergen when he was a young boy.
Jarle Rosseland did not plan on becoming an artist-it just happened.  "I created prints in my spare time and after I got my high school diploma, I made my debut at the Fall Exhibit (Høstutstillingen)," Rosseland said.  The Fall Exhibit is a yearly exhibit in Oslo featuring Norwegian amateur and professional artists.  The following year, he held his first solo exhibit and ever since he has been a full time artist. 

From his high school days, Rosseland has one year of experience in the banking business, if adding up odd jobs during school holidays.  After graduation, he headed to Connecticut and the Silvermine Guild of Artists to experiment and learn.  "Dad said, "'get your diploma and travel abroad,' and that's what I did," Rosseland said.

Today, Rosseland is most known for his striking linocuts, not just in Norway but internationally.  Linocut is a process in which an image is cut with a gouge in relief on a linoleum block.  Relief is the method of printing where ink is rolled onto the surface of the plate leaving lines and textures inkless.

Rosseland has held over 200 exhibits in countries ranging from Norway to Thailand, Canada to Japan, and a number of U.S cities like Dallas, San Francisco, New York and Minneapolis to mention a few.  "One year I had 300 travel days," Rosseland said.

Among his work are seven graphic collections with motifs from Nordic nature and culture.  The first was comprised of 25 prints accompanying Henrik Ibsen's "Per Gynt" (1974).  Then "Sigedalserien" followed with 9 smaller prints (1975), then "Viking suiten" with 10 prints (1982), "Nordkalotten" with 8 prints (1982/83), "Vinland suiten" with 24 prints illustrating the Vikings' landing in America (1984/85), 18 prints of "Norske Kystlinjer" (1986), and a series comprised of 12 motifs around the months of the year for Conoco (1988). 

Commissioned by Saga Petroleum, the artist has developed 18 graphic prints inspired by Saga poet Snorri Sturlason called the "Snorre Suite." This exhibit will be featured at Union Station as part of the Norwegian Christmas at Union Station in December.

All of these collections have motifs and themes from Norway and Norwegian history.  Rosseland said that his choice of theme has been part of a search for what's truly Norwegian.  "I made Peer Gynt way back in order to make something that was Norwegian," Rosseland said.  He added that it was his publicist in New York who had told him, "you have to try to underscore the Norwegian."

When working with a historical theme, Rosseland first analyzes the material in search of a story, trying to identify the common denominator.  "Then I try to vision what pictures can become the central ones and then create from there," he explained.

His primary source of inspiration is Norway, of course.  Rosseland has made few motifs from other countries.  "Some people say that when they see my pictures that this is more or less how they remember Norway when they for example were in Norway 20 or 30 years ago," he said.  "It becomes-what should one call it-a simplification and easily recognizable.

Rosseland describes his choices of color as powerful, pure Nordic colors in red, yellow and blue. 

Some of Rosseland's motifs from his linocuts have also made it onto a bigger format, tapestries.  This art form was something he picked up while studying in Paris in 1981-82.  "A colleague there knew a colleague.  That's how it goes, right?  And that's how I started with smaller tapestries and then little by little there have been more and more," he said.

According to Rosseland, tapestries are a way to get his pictures enlarged.  "In the art form I work with, getting it onto textiles gives a great effect," he added.

In addition to linocuts and tapestries, Rosseland has also illustrated posters, postcards, calendars, and books.  He has designed china and crystal for Rosenthal and Rogaska Slatina.  He is a multifaceted man.

How much time he spends on his projects each day varies, but we have never had a vacation, he said.  By we, Rosseland means to include his wife, Signe Rosseland.  She guides her husband's exhibition schedule, does all the office work, handles connections and the list goes on.  Rosseland's many projects have become a full time lifestyle for his whole family.

Rosseland is currently working on a sculpture of a Viking grave called "Vinland," which will be become part of the permanent sculpture garden planned outside Chicago in Schaumburg, Illinois.  When finished, the planned international sculpture park will, become the largest in the world, according to Rosseland.

Written by Royal Norwegian Embassy, Washington, D. C. 

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