The acclaimed Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes organised a mini-series of three concerts featuring music by his countrymen to coincide with an exhibition of the work of Norwegian artist Nikolai Astrup (1880 – 1928), the first ever outside of Norway. It is a mark of how important this artist is in the cultural landscape of Norway that Andsnes came to the leafy suburbs of south-east London to present these concerts, which amply proved, in the words of Dulwich Picture Gallery’s director Ian Dejardin, “there is more to Norwegian music than Grieg”. In addition to exploring the music, visitors were invited to view the exhibition of Nikolai Astrup’s colourful and expressive paintings, prints and woodcuts.

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Nikolai Astrup Midsummer Eve Bonfire, SBF/DNB/The Astrup Collection/KODE Art Museums of Bergen (photo: Stuart Leech)

Music was important to Astrup. He grew up in Jølster in the region of Sogn og Fjordane, a landscape of scattered farms around a scenic lake, surrounded by high mountains. With no towns or large hubs nearby, access to classical music was minimal and the music that was most accessible to Astrup as he was growing up was Norwegian folk music, in particular the type played on the Hardanger fiddle. Dancers and fiddle-players appear frequently in Astrup’s ‘Midsummer Bonfires’ paintings, and references to music and musicians feature in many of his other paintings, along with the landscape of the area of Norway he knew well. Thus the programmes for the three concerts at Dulwich Picture Gallery revolved around the theme of Norwegian folk music and its influence on composers who succeeded Grieg. The music was selected to reflect the themes and beauty of Astrup’s paintings.

Read my full review here

David Hockney: Two Boys Aged 23 or 24, 1966. Courtesy of David Hockney

‘Hockney, Printmaker’ coincides with the 60th anniversary of David Hockney’s first print and celebrates his long and diverse career as a printmaker. David Hockney is Britain’s best-known and arguably best-loved artist, and one of our most talented and innovative printmakers. Showcasing over 100 works, including rare early lithographs from his time at Bradford College of Art in the 1950s (a Self Portrait redolent of Stanley Spencer) and his recent experiments with the iPad and iPhone (Rain on the Studio Window, 2009), this engaging exhibition offers an insightful and entertaining overview of Hockney’s long career. Read my review here

‘Hockney: printmaker’ is at Dulwich Picture Gallery until 11 May 2014. Further information

This week I visited Dulwich village, an area of south-east London I have not been to for many years. I had the very good fortune not only to review an exhibition of exquisite Indian miniature paintings at the wonderful Dulwich Picture Gallery, but also to play Bach on a spinet belonging to a friend. The spinet playing will feature in a separate post. Meanwhile, here is my review of ‘Ragamalas’ for OneStopArts.com.

Dulwich on View magazine is running a ‘create your own ragamala’ competition. Details here