Occupation

  • Artist: Johs Rian
  • Creation date: 1968
  • Object type: Painting

About

“The colours are what is most important,” Johs Rian once said. In 1930, at the age of thirty-nine, he made his debut at an exhibition at Kunstnerforbundet in Oslo, after having completed his training at the Academy of Fine Art under the tutelage of Axel Revold (1928–29). From the very beginning, Rian painted partially abstracted images, over time they became ever more abstract and finally nonfigurative. Occupation represents the style he had developed and cultivated during the final phase of his career.

The painting features monochromatic fields of mauve and blue-green against a black background. The paint has been applied to the surface without any distinct brushstrokes showing. Even though the placement of the various elements might seem haphazard, we know that Rian spent a great deal of time on the composition. He believed there was an ideal location for every shape, and an ideal colour as well, and his ultimate ambition was to discover this perfect painting.

The title refers to the Soviet Union’s invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. According to Rian, “the blue serpent here is the Soviet Union, which wants to crush the tiny splash of violet – Czechoslovakia”. The large rectangle symbolizes the resistance movement, while the speck of green in the upper-left corner represents help from the international community. With this information in mind, it becomes easier to imagine how this picture symbolizes the occupation of a small country.

Even though Rian uses his nonfigurative works to comment on contemporary political events, his art is typified above all by its composition and its characteristic use of colour.

Text: Hilde Areng Skaara

From "Highlights. Art from 1945 to the Present", Nasjonalmuseet 2016, ISBN 978-82-8154-116-0

Artist/producer

Johs Rian

Billedkunstner

Born 1891 in Overhalla, Nord-Trøndelag, death 1981 in Oslo

Work info

Creation date:
1968
Other titles:
Okkupasjon (NOR)
Object type:
Materials and techniques:
Olje på lerret
Technique:
Material:
Dimensions:
  • Height: 100 cm
  • Width: 110.5 cm
Keywords:
Classification:
Acquisition:
Acquired 1969
Inventory no.:
MS-02717-1988
Cataloguing level:
Single object
Owner and collection:
Nasjonalmuseet for kunst, arkitektur og design, The Fine Art Collections
Copyright:
© Rian, Johs/BONO