Western Norway consists of shades of grey, ranging from dazzling white to coal black. This multitude of shades and their orchestration never ceases to fascinate me. If you look closely, you notice that darkness is never black – it always has a colour, a temperature. Darkness appears monotonous only at first glance.
I am sometimes accused of making dismally dark paintings. My response is that in order to paint the light, I have to make room for darkness.
Opdahl's motifs do not change drastically in the mature phase of his artistic career. More common are his repeated investigations of the same motif under different circumstances. For instance, consider the view of Alesund as seen from the Aksla mountain, and the view of the mountain formations of Ramoen in Sunmørsalpene. Still, this period is defined by a strong will, and an ability to explore, evolve and discover new ways of expression. This is demonstrated in the color palette, and in the surface work and the texture. The focus on complex fusion of materials, which Opdahl explored as early as the 1960's, is in these recent years cultivated and refined.
Opdahl also carries with him the iconography of his early career, in the form of an interest in city and nature landscapes. Thus, the landscape is increasingly an allegorical expression of universal, existential themes like the transitory state of being, of man's place in nature, and of the meeting between nature and culture. Opdahl connects with the inherent melancholy of "the dark, Nordic art scene" in current contemporary expression. This is especially related to a particular interest in the various aspects of darkness, including themes such as melancholy, destruction, and dystopia.
Opdahl's artistic intention is to wash away the superfluous in order to find the core of experience. The impressions of nature are here trapped in the intersection between abstraction and figuration, as seen through Opdahl's wide-reaching artistic expression. This has resulted in a revitalization and renewal of the strong Norwegian and Nordic landscape tradition.
Tove Lande (from the book: Ørnulf Opdahl, I mørket er lyset)