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Johs (Johannes) Rian (1891-1981) Woman with a Cello, 1950

Purchased at an exhibition with money from Hannah and Hans Ryggen’s Gift

Whereas many painters start their professional career early, Johs Rian took his time before he decided to become a professional artist. At the age of 37, with a background as a farmer in Overhalla and a violinist, he finally started his art education at the academy in Oslo as one of Axel Revold’s students. Revold and Henrik Sørensen, who had both studied under Matisse in Paris, made a considerable impact on Rian’s artistic development.

For a period of time the colourist Rian painted figurative motifs, before he went on to make non-figurative works. Woman with a Cello is one of his principal works from the figurative period. In this painting, which bears testimony to Rian’s stringent experimentation with elements that create a sense of space and movement, the colour fields on the surface interact rhythmically. The influence from Matisse is evident, yet it also points the way to Rian’s non-figurative pictorial language.