155 - The Norwegian Drop

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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’.


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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.

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"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:

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  • Norway is a foaming mass of water gushing down a rocky mountainside that to the right looks like the rest of Scandinavia.
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  • A nice touch: Iceland is formed by a… spot of ice on the side of the mountain towering over the landscape.
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  • Rivulets of water form the boundaries of Finland and Sweden, Russia’s Kola peninsula is defined by the stagnant pond next to it.
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  • The ‘head’ of Norway at its southern end is a waterfall, perpetually showering Denmark’s Jutland peninsula with crystal clear Norwegian water.
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  • 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.
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  • 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.
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  • 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.
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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.

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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.

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