This remarkable painting was made by the Norwegian artist Rolf Groven as a poster proposal for Norway’s pavilion at the World Exhibition in Seville (Spain) in 1992. The title is ‘Den Norske Dråpen’, which I guess can be translated as ‘The Norwegian Drop’.

Water is very significant indeed for Norwegians, as hydroelectric power produces 98,5% of the electric power generated in Norway – this in spite of Norway’s huge North Sea oil reserves, which consequently must be exploited mainly for export.

“This painting is aimed at visualizing how this energy source is entirely renewable and is a result of Norway’s distinct geography,” Mr Groven states on his website. And it does just that:

  • Norway is a foaming mass of water gushing down a rocky mountainside that to the right looks like the rest of Scandinavia.
  • A nice touch: Iceland is formed by a… spot of ice on the side of the mountain towering over the landscape.
  • Rivulets of water form the boundaries of Finland and Sweden, Russia’s Kola peninsula is defined by the stagnant pond next to it.
  • The ‘head’ of Norway at its southern end is a waterfall, perpetually showering Denmark’s Jutland peninsula with crystal clear Norwegian water.
  • That water flows on to etch the edges of Europe out of its rocky landscape – clearly a reference to what the northern desolation of Norway must look like.
  • A road winding down through northern Germany, past the Benelux countries and via France leads to where Italy should be. Instead, a road sign invites us to take the other direction, up towards Norway.
  • To the left, a salmon and the British Isles are floating quite mysteriously above the water – perhaps all three of them have just leapt up out of the mountain stream.

On closer, or rather farther inspection, the landscape is situated not in a crystal ball, but in a lightbulb – appropriately referring to Norway’s sensible exploitation of its renewable hydroelectric resources.

Rolf Groven (°1943) studied art in Norway and architecture in Iran, worked as a builder, sailor, architect and teacher before settling on painting and illustrating his main occupation. This strange hybrid of a map and a painting was kindly sent to me by Harald Groven, Rolf’s son. This page links to Rolf and his kids, this is a direct link to his paintings (click on the palettes to go to the subcategories), and the one exhibited on this page can be found here.