Back in Rio after 29 years


Written by:

Full house at the opening of Alfredo Andersen exhibition.

29 years have passed since the last time the works of Norwegian painter Alfredo Andersen were exhibited in Rio de Janeiro, and more than 200 participants from a wide range of Brazilian institutions, consulates in Rio and the Norwegian business community were present for the grand opening of the exhibition in the Centro Cultural Correios in Rio de Janeiro Wednesday night.

Wilson José Andersen Ballão is the great grandson of Alfredo Andersen.Alfredo Emil Andersen left Norway in 1892 and decided to settle in Paraná, where he is commonly referred to as the “father of the Paraná painting tradition”, and even “the father of Brazilian impressionism”, according to Jens Olesen, the Norwegian General Consul in São Paulo.

From September 5 to October 6, 2013, about 50 of Alfredo Andersen’s paintings are exhibited in the Centro Cultural Correios. As Rio de Janeiro currently has the largest Norwegian community in Brazil, this is an opportunity for many to get to know an artist not that celebrated in Norway.

Guest of honor
Both Mr. Jens Olesen and Mr. Erling Lorentzen were among the prominent guests at the opening on September 4. Paulino Viapiana, the secretary of culture of the state of Paraná, was also present. Wilson José Anderson Ballão, the great grandson of Alfredo Andersen, was however the guest of honor at the reception hosted by the Norwegian Consulate General in Rio de Janeiro.

“I had to write down what I was going to say, because I always get very emotional when I talk about Alfredo Andersen. This is very exciting, and it is great to have this chance to show the Norwegians in Rio that there was a Norwegian here before them that achieved a lot. Things were very hard at the time Andersen decided to settle here. We would like all Norwegians to know who he was and what he did. In 2010 we even made a catalog of his work in Portuguese and Norwegian, because we wanted to make it accessible to a greater number of Norwegians”, Wilson José Anderson Ballão says.

Helle Klem, the consul general of Norway in Rio de Janeiro held the opening remarks at the reception.

“Here in Rio, Norway might be more known for our activities within the oil and gas sector, but I hope this exhibition will contribute to broaden your knowledge of Norway, and we are very happy to have Alfredo Andersen back in Rio. It was very unusual to settle in Brazil at the time that Alfredo Andersen arrived. Most Norwegians migrated to the United States. Maybe he realized that he would have better opportunities both personally and professionally in Brazil than in Norway”, Mrs. Klem says.

A collection of Andersen’s paintings were exhibited in Norway in 2001, and later in Brasilia and São Paulo. The last exhibition in Rio de Janeiro took place in 1984. The very first time Andersen’s paintings were shown in Rio was in 1918.

Andersen is known for his landscapes and talent for capturing the light in his paintings. Several paintings from Rio de Janeiro, painted here in 1925 and 1926, are also among the works exhibited.

“This is without a doubt a great opportunity to get to know this artist who so cleverly observed our nature and the people of our country”, Ronald Simon, director at the Museu Alfredo Andersen says, according to the museum’s website.

Different approaches to Norway
The 3 Norwegian photographers Per Berntsen, Verena Winkelmann and Rune Johansen are also showing their pictures in the exhibition. Their photos have previously been showed in São Paulo, Santos, Natal and now in Rio.

Their photos show Norwegian nature as well as situations from Norwegian daily life. According to journalist Lars Elton, the photographers have captured the different aspects of what it means being a Norwegian. Verena Winkelmann shows naked buildings, “solitary just like the people of Norway” and a series of portraits taken without invading the model’s privacy. The majority of Rune Johansen´s photos were shot in the north of the country, but show different qualities than tourist brochures from the same parts of Norway. Many show isolated houses and dramatic nature.

Per Berntsen´s black and white photos are calm, ordinary landscapes, similar to the view of a typical Norwegian forest. His ambition is to make us realize the qualities of the ordinary and the potential beauty that resides in the unperceived.

“These are two very different approaches to Norwegian art, two very different points of view, from different times in history. Alfredo Andersen was the Norwegian settler who arrived in Brazil, while the 3 photographers portray their own country to try to show what it means to be Norwegian”, says Helle Klem.

By Runa Hestmann Tierno, NBCC journalist