Håkon Bleken (1929) is educated at The National Academy of Art in Oslo, and has been one of the most prominent Norwegian artists over the last forty years. He have had an immense influence on the Norwegian contemporary art scene, and is consider a national master.
A series of coal sketches called “Fragments of a dictatorship” from 1971 is regarded as his breakthrough as an artist. Despite the fact that he has a successful career behind him, marked by artistic courage, political conscience and a number of prestigious exhibits and rewards, he still remains determined to continue working.
It is not easy to classify Bleken’s artistic oeuvre, as he works with a range of expressions: painting, coal drawing, stained glass, different graphic methods and book illustrations. Yet, he is best known for his paintings, which vary between carefully detailed composed pieces and intelligent simplicity in abstractionism. His main subjects are landscape and portrait, executed in evocative color pallets and energetic brushwork. In his later work, he has been using modernist cubistic collage, and he often works in dialog with old traditions and historical cultural expressions.
Human suffering and social activism are subjects that often reappears in Bleken's works and his art is always relevant. He revives a particular type of socio-political anxiety from the 1950s, and at the same time, he chooses up-to-date topics of our time. He applies art in a constant quest to find his place in life, which is reflected in his ability to continually reinvent himself as an artist. He attunes his works to the emotional details of his own life, and connects them to the real socio-political world around him.
Since his debut in 1951 he has shown in solo exhibitions in a variety of Norway’s most important galleries and museums such as the Norwegian National Gallery and Henie Onstad Art Museum. Bleken’s works are included in important collections such as the Norwegian National Gallery, Norsk Hydro and Statoil. His art is displayed in St. Olav Catholic Church (Trondheim), Olavshallen, Oslo Concert House, and at Oslo Central Station. In 2009 a documentary about his life was released, which premiered at Kosmorama in Trondheim in March 2009. In 2005 he won the award of Anders Jahre kulturpris and in 2009 he was awarded by the king of Norway the title of commandant of St. Olav Orden.