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View of a Small Town

Nikolai Triik View of a Small Town 1905–1909 oil, cardboard 42.5 × 47 cm

Nikolai Triik was in Norway in the summers of 1907 and 1908. Back then, Norway attracted enthusiasts of culture and nature from all over Europe like a magnet. A strong gravitation towards Norway had sprouted in connection with the popularity of Edvard Munch, but also Henrik Ibsen and Edvard Grieg. A certain weariness of modernisation also supported this, inspiring people to seek direct experiences of nature instead of big cities. Norway’s image spoke of primeval, wild and deserted nature, for which reason travel to Norway had in the meantime become so popular that numerous new passenger shipping lines were even put into operation.
We know little about Triik’s life in Norway. Precise descriptions have not survived, to say nothing of entries in diaries or other information that would, for instance, help to decide the location of the places where Triik painted his works. This view was apparently completed in some small town near Oslo. Here the artist is admittedly considerably more colourful than in Åland, yet he is still characteristically laconic and sparing. The painting’s composition stands out. The artist has divided the space of the painting into two parts: we see houses in two thirds of the space on the left, admittedly more properly primarily the rhythm formed by their roofs, while at the same time the white wall of a house is placed in the foreground, making the entire painting more airy. Yet the third of the painting on the right is painted in a far more generalising way: the indispensable concreteness in the case of depicting the houses has disappeared here. Instead we see blurred contours and forms that dissolve into one another. It starts from a lakelet and continues with strips of farmland (?) situated behind the lake, which more than anything else are like patches of colour that dissolve into one another. The line of the sky proceeding in the background joins the picture together into a whole, connecting the space of the town, with its concrete contours, to the landscape zones with their dissipating and blending contours.