Queen Sonja opened her first separate exhibition of her own art at a gallery in the southern coastal town of Kragerø over the weekend. By Monday, more than half of her graphics had been sold.
“It’s like heading into an exam,” the queen told reporters assembled at Galleri Nicolines hus in Kragerø, where artists from Edvard Munch to Frits Thaulow have lived and worked. “You hope you’ll pass.”
She certainly did, given the brisk sales among her 32 pictures (60 versions of each available), most of them produced last year under the tutelage of contemporary Norwegian artists Ørnulf Opdahl and Kjell Nupen. Nupen was present at the opening of the queen’s exhibition, and claimed he was proud of his student.
“The queen has always stood on her own, but it’s still a big deal to be here for her debut,” Nupen told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK).
More than 1,000 people showed up when the exhibit opened to the public on Saturday. Within the first 90 minutes, more than 200 pictures and graphics had been sold. By Monday, all the graphics were surrounded by small red stickers indicating they’d been sold in multiple versions, and 14 of them were sold out. One customer was among the many paying nearly NOK 10,000 (USD 1,700) to have one of the queen’s artworks on her wall at home.
“It’s just overwhelming,” gallery owner Eirin Schistad Sten told NRK. Most of the proceeds are earmarked for the fund attached to the Queen Sonja Nordic Art Award for talented Nordic artists. The gallery itself will also get an unspecified percentage of the revenues.
Inspired by landscapes
Queen Sonja’s graphics are described as abstract and figurative, with the queen herself saying she finds inspiration “in the landscape, both over and underground.”
Asked why she chose a small gallery in Kragerø to display her art, the queen replied that it was a combination of circumstances, coincidences and the “good reputation” the gallery had, also that it was “the perfect place” during the summer months. Kragerø has long attracted affluent Norwegians who have expensive summer homes and cottages (hytter) in and around the town and on its many islands.
She described the gallery as “an intimate and lovely location, like a little flower here in Kragerø.”
The queen is known for her strong interest in art and her own large art collection, some of which has been exhibited at the Henie-Onstad Art Center outside Oslo. Norwegian artists have often viewed her as an important supporter of their work.
Her own exhibit in Kragerø was only due to run for two weeks, until July 25.
Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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