Arts and Gardens

Horses in Motion

When the horses are released into the pasture, they are full of pranks. They rush forward at a gallop, rearing and snorting. Johannes Vinjum’s painting captures the sheer joy of life in the animals.

Johannes Vinjum, Slipp III, 1987.
Johannes Vinjum, Slipp III, 1987.
Alf Edgar Andresen

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The painting is a tribute to the movement and power in the bodies of the three horses. They are coming straight at us, seeming to emerge from the picture plane. As always when something is in rapid motion, we do not see the animals clearly. Still, they are sketched more clearly than the background, which is completely out of focus, appearing as luminous tones of yellow and green.

If we look closely at Slipp III (Turnout III), we risk losing the subject. Instead, we might be looking at how the paint is laid. In some places the surface is rough as coarse fabric, with lumps of paint seemingly randomly scattered throughout. In other areas the paint is added in thin, translucent layers, with several colors on top of each other. The picture has an abstract quality, which seems independent of the figurative content but is actually closely connected to it. For it is through the addition of paint on the canvas that the horses stand out in vivid shapes.

Johannes Vinjum (1930-1991) belongs to a group often called the “new figurative” or “neo-romantics”, which in the 1960s and -70s found other ways to the modern than the leading abstract or political tendencies in art. Vinjum looked at the painting as a process, changing and tinkering with the surface to obtain his luminous, sensory images. His pieces can be found in the National Gallery and the Museum of Contemporary Art, and at the Vinjum Gallery at Aurlandsvangen.