Two weeks ago I went to see Edvard Munch (read as Munk) exhibition at Kunsthal, Rotterdam. I have been intrigued by his masterpieces such as The Scream and Madonna. Edvard Munch was a Norwegian painter, lithographer, etcher, and wood engraver. His works represent his life and describe where he came from, the windy and freezing Norway with gorgeous colour pallet in the sky during winter.
Vivid gloomy colour
The themes of his works betray the period where he was in when completing these. In his first years Munch captured many rural landscapes with vivid colours and quite fair brush strokes.
As he grew older, a love tragedy richer, myseries, more conflicts, drinking problems and due to his poor health, his works tend to become darker and darker. He varied the mediums as well. I love his lithographs, it looks very graphic. And the theme also became more intriguing (anxiety, sickness, despair and death).
Munch made a number of series on various medium (canvas, lithographs, woodcuts with charcoal, water and oil colour). He took time to improve his technique and use of colours. Munch produced several version of The Scream, The Sick Child and Madonna.
Influence of photography
Munch once said: “We want more than a mere photograph of nature. We do not want to paint pretty pictures to be hung on drawing-room walls. We want to create, or at least lay the foundations of, an art that gives something to humanity. An art that arrests and engages. An art created of one’s innermost heart.”
He bought a camera which was a novelty at that time experimented a lot with. This experimenting resulted in interesting works.
I have never thought that his whole oeuvre is richly coloured but yet they are gloomy. His later works with heavy themes fill me with a void feeling. Was his illness so bad that he was able to produce such dark art works? I can only wonder. Like most talented artists he suffered from ‘insanity’ which allowed him to create amazing, attractive art works. Munch was an artist with high awareness and urge to reinvent himself. He kept going on looking for new themes and colours in another angle to express himself on the medium where he was more comfortable with.
If you prefer not to be confronted with the deepest and raw form of emotion, then Edvard Munch isn’t your man. Those who are open to any kind of emotion, explore this through his eyes and beautiful art works.
leaflet Edvard Munch exhibition, Kunsthal Rotterdam