Ragnar Almén (born 1949) has long played a very significant and active role on the art scene of Vestfold. Although best known for his prints, he has consistently exhibited works in a wide variety of techniques. For this retrospective exhibition we have chosen to focus on his contribution as a painter. Throughout the last 30 years his paintings have been created in a close relationship to the themes he has explored in other artistic techniques. To highlight this process ten bronze sculptures have been included in the exhibition.

After a turbulent childhood in Oslo Almén arrived in Borre, eleven years old. On leaving school he went to sea as a merchant sailor, before returning to sail in local waters as an able seaman on the Bastø Ferry. During the 1970s he was given artistic tuition by Gunnar Romberg in Tønsberg and a grounding in printmaking by Bjørn-Willy Mortensen in Åsgårdstrand. After his debut in 1976 at Galleri Norske Grafikere (Norwegian Printmakers Gallery) his characteristic style began to emerge, as did the themes around which his art has revolved. Inspired by artists as diverse as Lars Hertervig and Francis Bacon, his paintings – often heavy in symbolism and with a restrained expressivity – explored personal experiences, but also themes as varied as political repression and the subdued landscapes near his home.

This exhibition is curated by Øivind Storm Bjerke, professor at the University of Oslo. He has also authored the book that accompanies it. Published by Galleberg, the book reproduces most of the 60 paintings in the exhibition.