Traditionally a working-class area and a former industrial district, Grünerløkka has, from the late 20th century onwards, become one of the most fashionable areas of Oslo. Populated with a dynamic mixture of old industrial buildings, bohemian cafés and bars, vintage and designer boutiques, and cutting-edge exhibition spaces, Grünerløkka is an ideal neighbourhood in which to explore Oslo’s contemporary art scene.
Situated on Grünerløkka’s main commercial street, Thorvald Meyers Gate, TM51 is an ideally-located galley that opened in December 2011 with the mission of enriching the district’s cultural life. Spacious and minimalist, TM51 exhibits artists working in all genres and aims to be Grünerløkka’s center of ‘all things art’ by providing a connected workspace for artists. Never a gallery to shy away from the controversial or unconventional, TM51 has exhibited works by internationally-acclaimed Norwegian artist Lars Ø. Ramberg, who creates site-specific, large-scale installations that critique themes like national identity from a wryly political viewpoint, and rising local talent Erik Tidemann’s Flesh Studies, a series of sculptures, paintings, and drawings of strange and mutated characters reminiscent of the 1980s horror genre, and influenced by the likes of H. R. Giger, video games, and comic books.
Established in September 2011, Galleri Schæffer’s Gate 5 is an independent art and performance space in a particularly appropriate setting, as the street on which it resides was named after Henrik Ernst Schäffer – a Norwegian teacher who set up a grant in the 1800s to support young artists. The gallery resides on the ground floor of a 1890s tenement building, and features two exhibition spaces dedicated to the presentation of unique art demonstrative of the spirit of international creativity. The gallery is run by a creative team that includes owner, musician, and avant-garde filmmaker Mark Steiner (originally from New York), and curators Irene Christensen and Grete Marstein, also visual artists themselves.
Fotogalleriet is a non-profit institution set up by a trio of artists – Dag Alveng, Bjørn Høyum and Tom Sandberg – to promote and nurture photography and other camera-based arts as a means of artistic expression. Since its establishment in 1977, Fotogalleriet has been a significant player in the development of Norway’s contemporary art scene by both introducing international artists to the country, and giving emerging native artists a stage on which to showcase their art. In its 30-plus year history, the gallery has exhibited works by celebrated and renowned American photographer Larry Fink, Norwegian video artist Trine Lise Nedreaas and Colombian artist Angelica Teuta, whose work is a meeting of photography, sculpture, installation and light.
One of Grünerløkka’s newer contemporary art venues, Kunstplass 5 is a not-for-profit artist-run gallery established in 2011 by graphic designer and illustrator Henriette Stensdal and multimedia designer Vibeke Hermanrud. Kunstplass 5 exhibits a number of genres, including painting, photography, installation and video art, but specifically focuses on art with political undertones that challenges and surprises while also hosting short-term events such as performance art and talks from artists. In its short history, the gallery has presented thought-provoking exhibitions including Human Rights Human Wrongs, a group exhibition by three international artists – Mari Meen Halsøy from Norway, Ahmad Ghossein of Lebanon and Shwan Dler Qaradaki from Kurdistan – exploring individual powerlessness and violation of human rights in times of war, and Oslo-based artist Vigdis Fjellheim’s Prospekter, a critique of Norwegian consumerism.
Focusing on the promotion of innovative and experimental art and architecture, ROM came about in 2005 following the merging of two organizations established in the late 1980s – gallery ROM and Institutt for Romkunst – who joined forces to engage with issues on contemporary art and architecture. Located in a former factory near Oslo’s Akerselva River, ROM features an interior exhibition space and a courtyard for large-scale installations, attracting a diverse crowd from the vibrant local community.
Cyan Studio opened in 1998 as an art collective for independent freelance photographers. Today, it acts as a photography studio that on the last weekend of each month is transformed into a gallery space presenting new and thought-provoking exhibitions. Cyan Studio also hosts monthly lectures and discussions about photography and photographers and is a regular participant in Oslo Open – the city’s largest annual contemporary arts event that sees galleries opening their doors to the public to encourage a dialogue between artists and audiences.
Grünerløkka Kunsthall is a small but chic and minimalist not-for-profit gallery space founded in 2009. It was established with the aim of presenting a diverse and comprehensive program of exhibitions from both local and international artists, now also home to several artist studios.
A new addition to Grünerløkka’s contemporary art community, Galleri Vulkan is located in a modern building close to Oslo’s beautiful dance performance hall, Dansens Hus. The gallery presents around 12 to 15 solo and group exhibitions each year, with a focus on young, up-and-coming artists alongside established mid-career creatives. Open to all forms of artistic genres and expressions, Galleri Vulkan’s only stipulation is that the artworks exhibited in its space should demonstrate reflection, provocation, curiosity and contemplation, and have the goal of encouraging dialogue. Galleri Vulkan represents artists including Cicilie Risåsen, whose observation-based art is a mixture of painting and photography, and painter Kristin Romberg whose art explores the role of women in society.
Launched in 2011 by the Oslo-based artists Helen Eriksen, Ebba Moi, and Stefan Schröder, Tenthaus Oslo is an artist-oriented project and exhibition space with an international focus. Established with the intention of re-examining the context and role of contemporary art creation in today’s society, Tenhaus Oslo also presents a program of live performances, art workshops, and artist talks.
S9 Gallery is a seasonal exhibition space open in the spring and the autumn, established in September 2009 in central Grünerløkka and named for its location at number nine Sverdrups Gate. A relatively small space measuring 80 square meters, S9 Gallery offers art lovers an intimate environment in which to view a diverse body of work from artists working in a variety of genres and mediums that include photography, metal art, sculpture and glass-based art. The company rents out its gallery space to artists – both individuals and groups – on a weekly basis and the popular exhibition space is often fully booked far in advance. Artists that have exhibited at S9 Gallery in the past include the Polish painter Patryk Janczukowski, whose works depict organic and grotesque scenes, and Norwegian-French artist Jeanne-Sophie Aas, whose main medium is stained glass that references traditional Japanese art.