Culture / Art Republik

ART STAGE Singapore 2018: Ashok Jain Gallery presents Elling Reitan

Elling Reitan’s works encourage contemplation and introspection

Jan 18, 2018 | By Art Republik



Elling Reitan, ‘Beneath the Surface‘, 2017, oil on canvas, 120 cm × 110 cm. Image Courtesy Ashok Jain Gallery.

Elling Reitan is often called “the artist with the beautiful colours”. Starting his artistic career with a juried exhibition in Trondhjem’s Kunstforening (Art Society) in 1979, Reitan has practiced under the tutelage of Norwegian Masters like Odd Nerdrum and Bjørn Sverrbo. The artist also considers Jens Johannessen, an established Norwegian painter and graphic artist, his mentor.

Reitan has developed a unique style of painting that reflects on the physical world that we inhabit and the emotional experiences we all go through. His contemplative oil paintings are instantly recognisable and yet encompass several layers of interpretations within them. “The aim of my paintings is to say something about the world we are living in,” he says. “However, there are no fixed meanings. I like people to search for themselves and see what they can find. Most of my artworks can be interpreted in many different ways”.

Elling Reitan. Image Courtesy Ashok Jain Gallery.

The versatility and uniqueness in his artworks, however, do not end at the contextual interpretations. Not only is Reitan a skilful and expressive artist, he is also adept at a number of painting and printing mediums including watercolours, charcoal, lithography, serigraphy and glassware. His compositional subjects also range from vibrant, expressionistic abstracts to defined, imaginative landscapes and figures. “The overall image is only one part of the painting,” says Reitan. “Just as important are the compositions, the usage of colors, texture and the painterliness the artist brings.”

Using a versatile but confident colour palette, Reitan creates compositions that unknowingly guide his viewers into a reflective state of mind. He believes that one of the most important qualities of art is its ability to guide the audience on their own personal journey. “It is important to think, make our own reflections, and in that way, get a vision,” he explains.  

Another unique aspect of his artistic process involves the usage of the Chinese concept of “yin and yang” or “the two black and white drops of water that together form a perfect circle,” as the artist describes it. The artist portrays a set of black and white figures into the paintings, barely visible at first glance, to illustrate a symbolic balance and to induce depth and perspective in his paintings. “They are counterparts — black and white, male and female, warm and cold —  that together form a unity,” he says. Almost as significant as his personal signature, the couple finds its way into all of Reitan’s compositions, sometimes peeking through the energetic strokes in his abstract paintings and other times delicately adorning the horizons of his landscapes.

Reitan has presented his works in more than a hundred and fifty solo and group exhibitions across the globe. His work is part of a number of public and private collections in Norway, the United State of America, as well as in Europe and Asia.

Elling Reitan, ‘Nordic Noir’, 2016, oil on canvas, 120 cm × 100 cm. Image Courtesy Ashok Jain Gallery.

With his meditative artworks, Reitan brings together visual aesthetics and spirituality, providing his viewers with an opportunity to stand still and absorb the world around them. “In our busy, modern and often cruel world, it is important to reflect on things,” says the artist. “There is a stream of inputs, both visual and emotional, hitting us every second, and a lot of it we involuntarily accept, simply because we do not have time to reflect over it.”

Reitan’s works will be presented by Ashok Jain Gallery at Art Stage Singapore 2018.

More information at

ART REPUBLIK is an official media partner of ART STAGE Singapore and will present its new (17th) issue, ‘Collecting,’  featuring Singapore artist Ruben Pang’s on the cover. Come visit our booth and follow our instagram (@art_republik) for daily highlights of the fair!

This article was written by Tanya Singh for Art Republik Issue 17.

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