The living conditions and toil of the fishermen, powerful storms and dramatic depictions of the sea and life in Lofoten – these are recurring motifs in the works of Kaare Espolin Johnson. In Galleri Espolin more than 200 of these works are on display, spanning all the way from the artist’s tentative beginnings until his death in 1994. A visit here will bring you one step closer to this exceptional artist.
The gallery at Storvågan was designed by architect Gisle Jakhelln, who drew inspiration from traditional Icelandic building techniques (Kaare Espolin Johnson had Icelandic ancestors). Espolin Johnson’s art is exhibited in the building’s many grand and elegant rooms.
Kaare Espolin Johnson (1907-1994) grew up in Finnmark and Bodø, but lived most of his adult life in Oslo. He retained an honorary artist’s residence at Svinøya outside Svolvær for several years, and after a few years he acquired a summer house at Osen – not far from the gallery. His fascination and love for Lofoten is clearly apparent in his paintings.
Espolin Johnson had very impaired vision, hence many of his pictures were painted from memory as he delved into past experiences. For the same reason, the artist used a limited colour scheme and mostly preferred to work in black and white. He focused on light, lines and compositions in his own distinctive style, which gave him complete artistic originality.
In addition to the permanent exhibitions, Galleri Espolin houses guest exhibitions by both regional and national artists.
Did you know...
... Kaare Espolin Johnson is represented in the National Gallery with as much as 39 paintings?
Galleri Espolin is located at Storvågan by Kabelvåg, a 10 minute drive from Svolvær.
In conjunction with Lofotmuseet and Lofoten Aquarium, Galleri Espolin makes up the SKREI Heritage Centre in Storvågan.
Following your art experience, you may want to visit Lofotmuseet and Lofoten Aquarium and get a bit closer to the nature, culture and history of Lofoten. At Lofotmuseet you can see the fishing village owner’s 19th century farm, browse Lofot fishing exhibitions, visit fishermen’s cottages and even stroll through a historical garden. At Lofoten Aquarium you can immerse yourself in an extraordinary underwater world, and come up close with fish and marine life. «A taste of Lofoten» you’ll get at Nyvågar Rorbuhotel which is situated nearby and offers overnight accommodation, delicious food and its very own aquavit bar.
2 January to 29 February - Monday to Friday: 11 am to 3 pm.
1 March to 1 May - Monday to Friday + Sunday: 11 am to 3 pm.
1 May to 31 May - every day: 11 am to 3 pm.
1 June to 31 July - every day: 10 am to 4 pm.
1 August to 31 August - every day: 11 am to 3 pm.
1 September to 30 October - Monday to Friday: 11 am to 3 pm.
2 November to 27 November - Wednesday to Friday: 11 am to 3 pm.
Otherwise open by appointment.
Galleri Espolin is part of Museum Nord.
Address: Storvåganveien 22, 8310 Kabelvåg
Phone: 76 15 40 00 / 76 07 84 05
Photographer: Dan Mariner
Text: Christine Kristoffersen Hansen