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At the foot of the seven mountains that surround Norway’s second largest city, there’s a lively art scene promoting local artists. Aside from a major museum with works by the likes of Munch and Picasso, art in Bergen is in the hands of a number of independent galleries and centers for the arts, often sponsored by forward-thinking national institutions. Discover the best of Bergen’s artistic community in our guide to the city’s top gallery spaces.
When it opened back in 1976, Hordaland Art Center became the first artist-run exhibition space in Norway. Ever since the center has presented a rich programme of exhibitions, becoming one of the most important outlets in the country for public engagement with the arts. A wealth of initiatives supplement Horland Art Center’s series of exhibitions in order to further promote an appreciation for contemporary art. These programmes include talks, seminars, an artist residency program and collaborations with many local and national external institutions. The center also offers a bookshop and a cafè where guests are welcome to thumb through art magazines and books.
Hordaland Art Center, Klosteret 17, Bergen, Norway, +47 55 90 85 90
As one of the city’s premier cultural organizations, Bergen Kunsthall is both an exhibition space and an arts commissioner, instrumental in the development of the arts in Bergen and Norway at large. The institution comprises three different sections, each with a separate creative focus. The most important, the Kunsthall, holds large-scale solo and group exhibitions of national and international artists. The other spaces include Gallery NO. 5, a more intimate gallery leaning towards independent art, usually reserved for small-scale solo exhibitions of rising talents, and Landmark, which hosts screenings, concerts, and performing arts shows.
Contemporary art is mostly associated with disciplines such as painting, sculpture, photography, and video. But there are a number of artists who chose instead to express themselves through the experimental medium of sound. These artists have a home in Bergen at Lydgalleriet, a gallery devoted exclusively to showcasing exhibitions which involve the use of sound. The result is a dynamic program of groundbreaking shows that widen the horizon of contemporary art practices.
Lydgalleriet, Østre Skostredet 3, Bergen, Norway, +47 482 37 888
Gallery Kraft, formerly known as Format, has branches in both Bergen and Oslo. Established in 1991, the gallery takes pride in its rich roster of artists, working primarily within the gray area between sculpture and design. The represented artists are mostly local, evident through their recurring language of animal figures and organic forms inspired by Norway’s breathtaking natural landscape. Among Format’s list of artists are Beate Einen and Vidar Koksvik, who manufacture beautiful pieces from glass, drawing from the country’s strong tradition of glass blowing.
KRAFT, Vågsallmenningen 12, Bergen, Norway, +47 55 30 48 90
Sjur and Elin Nedreaas opened Galleri s.e in 1995. Over the past two decades, the couple’s dedication has helped to establish the gallery as one of the largest, most prestigious private contemporary art spaces in the city. Galleri s.e focuses on artists who approach painting in original ways, often combining it with drawings and other figurative techniques. Dolk, one of the talents in the gallery’s portfolio and whose real identity remains unknown, is numbered amonstg the world’s top ten stencil artists, while Danish street artist Frodo Mikkelsen combines fine art painting with graffiti culture.
Galleri s.e, Kalfarveien 74B, 5018 Bergen, Norway, +47 55 31 57 55
Housed in a splendid wood mansion painted in white, gallery Langegaarden is the personal art shelter of Anne Sofie Bertelsen. It is her heartfelt mission to make Langegaarden a meeting point for young talents looking to debut their work on the national art scene. The artists represented by Langegaarden are mostly painters: Alf Ertsland creates grungy, expressive artworks, Jan Erik Willgohs paints non-figurative, metaphoric landscapes and Mona Orstad Hansen follows in the tradition of the 20th century minimalists.
In 2009, artist Cato Løland and curator Randi Grov Berger decided to open a gallery in Bergen that would contribute to the city’s rising art scene. The result is a gallery called Entrée, which acts as a non-commercial independent platform where young artists, local and international alike, can exhibit their work. In fact, the artists involved usually create pieces specifically for their shows at Entrée. Now run by Randi Grov Berger herself, this space has been growing from strength to strength on the local art scene.