Painting of the day

Aftur av gravarferd

In desparate efforts to avoid working on my thesis, I found the above painting on my computer today. The painting is called ‘Aftur av gravferð’ (Something like ‘Return from a funeral,’ I think), painted by the Faroese Samuel Joensen-Mikines (1906-1979). He painted ‘Aftur av gravferð’ rather early in his life (1935); death was a central theme in his works (and his live) in this period. (More biographic details here, in Danish.)

I learned of this painting in a novel called ‘Buzz Aldrin’ of the young Norwegian Johan Harstad. In the novel, one of the characters suffer a psychological breakdown of some sort after seeing the painting in a museum (my recollection may be a bit off here; go read the book yourself). This stirred my curiosity, of course. I have to admit that the painting in full scale (237cm x 176 cm) probably would have an impact on me too (but then, I am easily moved). If you like to read, the book is commendable (I even think it is available in English). Harstad writes in long, winding sentences, sometimes streching over an entire page, which is demanding but rewarding. I have a tendency to adopt the writing style of however I’m reading at the moment, so outstanding writing styles like Harstad’s is potentially a double challenge to me. I start experimenting more with styles, however, which is positive. Anyway, much of ‘Buzz Aldrin’ is set on the Faroe Islands, and the landscape and environment is described in the book in high detail; it almost felt like I had been there after I had finished the book (Harstad has stayed there for long periods, as far as I understand). The funny thing is that soon after finishing the book I actually met someone from the Faroe Islands, and he could confirm that most of my impressions of Faroe Island nature was indeed correct. He even showed me pictures of some of the places that are central in the book. The pictures made the book come even more alive.

Back to Mikines, I find many of his paintings interesting (with my naive sense and knowledge of art). Particularly, I like his whale killing paintings, red and bloody. Whale killing (‘Grindadràp’, litterary ‘killing Grindwhale’) has long traditions on the Faroe Islands and is still done today according to my Faroese friend. (Interestingly, ‘grindadràp’ also features in Harstad’s novel.) I should go and view some of Mikines paintings in real life once. I would probably have to go to the Faroe Islands, though. Hm. Maybe grab a drink at Café Natur.

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