Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Vigeland Sculpture Park

As we entered the Vigeland Sculpture Park in the heart of Oslo on the cold Tuesday morning, the day was clothed in gray. Our guide for the day, Sylvia something, was busy being the mildly cocky Norwegian who had a rather difficult time subduing her blatantly obvious love for her wealthy European country. Amid the shower of her exorbitant narratives, we walked past the bright yellow autumn leaves that lay strewn all over the park and shot a quick glance at the self portrait of the man himself – the very talented, very creative and certainly, very human – Gustav Vigeland, the main architect behind the sculpture park.

One of the first magnificent views to welcome your sight is the 100 meter long bridge which is beautifully decorated with 58 of Gustav's signature sculptures. The entire collection is a naked representation of the 'Human Condition' which happens to be the singular theme of the park. Each sculpture in this collection, if I may say so, is nothing short of an absolute masterpiece. The attention to detail about the inaccuracies, the shortcomings, the many layered flaws and above all, the unique imperfections of being a human is breathe taking. At one spot, we have the depiction of a man holding two infants, one in each of his arms, and displaying that uncanny smile that only a parent can effectively master. Then we have at another spot, a woman with a newborn in her arms, unsmiling, as the infant she holds, but still radiating a quiet optimistic feel to both their existences. Then of course, is the famous sculpture aptly labeled 'Sinnataggen' or 'Angry Boy' which is sheer juvenile fury and the very definition of vexation in a little boy who has been denied something his heart was definitely set upon. The presence of children in various poses with adults is a clear representation of Gustav's own life both as a parent and also as an artist who knew life could never be depicted without including the past, the present, and children, the future.

Then we passed the flower garden, feverishly clad in mute anticipation of a possibly merciless winter ahead, to come to the fountain which happens to be yet another outstanding piece of work from the master sculptor himself. In this model of six burly men holding what appears to be a giant tray, we were told, is a representation of the six working days in a week and the toil that is needed to pick up the weight of such a week. This degree of energy, needless to say, can be a human effort after all. Beneath this iconic depiction is a square shaped pedestal which is dotted with children, adults and skeletons in the arms of trees. Below these, etched onto the wall that runs along the base of the fountain, are engaging depictions of the undeniable cycle of life and death in this world. Yet another variation of the consistent theme of human condition the park is aimed at being a messenger of.

Once we had walked past the fountain, we ascended a flight of stairs to arrive at what is without contest the highlight of the park – the majestic Monolith tower that rises slowly into the sky. Situated at the highest point of the park, this soaring, twisting, ascending depiction of humankind was a sight for sore eyes! Sculpted from a single piece of stone, the Monolith tower includes 121 humans embroidered together in various postures in a brilliant ascent towards the heavens. We were told such a depiction was an attempt to capture the human need to come together in the endless quest to become one with the spiritual and to, hopefully, attain salvation. A rich and deservedly reverential end to what is by far one of the most engaging parks I have been fortunate to be in.

The sun might have decided to take the day off from the Norwegian sky that day, but nothing, as was apparent in more ways than one, could take the shine off the superior artwork of Gustav that sits at the Vigeland Sculpture Park in Oslo. A must see for anyone touring Scandinavia.

2 reflections:

Anonymous said...

This one is superb...something like what we have in gopurams here in India...well covered...kinda we been through the very park...

keep it coming..



NRK said...

This is awesome... should visit once. As always Europe is at its best when it comes to art & architecture.