Fragmenter fra et kunstnerliv

Fragments from an artist's life

Østerdal artist Asbjørn Petershagen left behind a large and diverse visual legacy. Paintings and graphics will now be shown in an exhibition from 18 November at Galleri EKG in Hamar.

May-Britt Bjørlo Henriksen

The father of six was born in Rena. He lived for many years in Sweden where he taught drawing, before he moved back to his home region and settled in Os in Østerdalen.

He is now being remembered with an exhibition in Galleri EKG in Hamar, curated by his immediate family and visual artist Maria Natalie Skjeset. He has several times in recent years shown paintings and graphics in Galleri EKG, or in connection with exhibitions that Galleri EKG has arranged for.

A couple of years before he died, he moved to Hamar and established a studio at Disen kulturveksttun, where he mainly worked in painting, drawing and charcoal, in addition to graphics. Petershagen had his diploma education from the Statens Håndverk- og Artindustri school, the painting department.

- This meant that we can say that he worked in a classical tradition, since he received a classical painting education where he learned to draw freehand, he learned geometric drawing, color theory, modelling, and gained knowledge of materials and composition, says Petershagen's good friend and colleague, visual artist Hans-Georg Kohler. He will open the exhibition in Hamar on 18 November.

Meditation , painting by Asbjørn Petershagen.


Coincidence meant that Petershagen started decorative painting when he finished the School of Arts and Crafts, which Kohler believes was driven by the need to make money.
- He did that in addition to working with painting and graphics, because it is not easy to survive as a visual artist, says Kohler.

One thing that characterized his artistry was that he always had a great variety in what he made.

Petershagen stated several times that he disliked working in the same style all the time. He said himself that he thought it was too boring, and that he often wanted to start a new painting when he had worked on half a picture.

Asbjørn Petershagen did not allow himself to be bound by exploring only one expression. He most often took his inspiration from external things, but he specified that creativity comes from one's inner self. From the unconscious, where the interior shapes the finished result.

Blossom , linocut by Asbjørn Petershagen.

The gift

With an eye on both Greek mythology, Indian philosophy and these landscapes that can perhaps be associated with the Østerdalen, he often turned to figure painting and intuitive landscapes.

The colors that ended up on the canvas reflect the feelings he had when he started painting.

He once said in an interview that: It is the colors that make me paint. It had to do with a gift he received when he was five years old; a box with 112 different oil sticks. Fat oil chalk from the brand Lefranc Bourgeois. It was an ecstatic day in his life, and since that day he drew and painted. Posterity shows that it was a decisive gift that laid the foundation for what was to become his active life.

Cultural landscape , painting by Asbjørn Petershagen.

- I think he achieved a lot. I know he worked long hours on things and that it was often a struggle. I would say that he established his own language and he made some very strong things, fine paintings; landscapes that are absolutely fantastic, says Kohler.

Petershagen worked with two different expressions. He worked very realistically, where he had a completely different approach. Relating to the classic, as if it were modern. Kohler says that Petershagen was interested in the classics. At the same time that contemporary artists such as Bleken, Karlsen, and other Norwegian contemporary artists recorded him.

- What we talked about a lot, which was important to Asbjørn, was that things have become very commercial and that there is too much decoration and too much kitsch because artists and painters work too much with sales, and have too little awareness of quality, says Kohler.

Winter , painting by Asbjørn Petershagen.

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