Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Called to Create God's Work of Art

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Called to Create God's Work of Art

Article excerpt

Byline: By Tamsin Lewis

Visionary artist Frans Widerberg tells Tamzin Lewis about his angels and demons.

As my interview with Frans Widerberg draws to a close, he looks away and says with light-hearted modesty: "These are the tales of a fool." The 72-year-old allies painting with philosophy, and can talk deeply about his God-like inspiration, but that doesn't mean he has to take himself too seriously.

Frans, whose latest exhibition is at Northumbria University's Gallery, is Norway's most important figurative painter and a successor to Edvard Munch.

Gallery director Mara-Helen Wood first came across work by Frans while visiting Munch's studio in Norway in the early 1980s. In 1987 she helped bring a major retrospective of his work to the UK, during a period of profound creativity for Frans.

His level of creativity doesn't appear to have dropped off much, and this new exhibition, drawn from the last 10 years, is burgeoning with life and blazing colour. Frans calls them his "mature works."

Frans explains that there is a subconscious element to his art directed by something beyond his control. His paintings and prints are not planned, rather they evolve spontaneously. "God, the deity or the spirit of art sees me and says, 'don't call me, I'll call you'," Frans says. "I know you are there, and when I need you we will call you.

"You are not there for what you need, you are there for a greater common need." He adds: "When I paint, I let go, like you do when you love someone. You can't escape it, you have to go through it. Painting is longing for something which you can never become or conquer.

"You are not creating, you are being. To paint is not to make something, it is trying to enter into a state of mind. You don't control it."

The artist is visiting Newcastle for the opening of the exhibition at a venue which must feel like a home from home. …

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