Thursday, December 16, 2010

Art and architecture

The Main Post Office in Bergen,1961. Monumental painting: Rolf W. Syrdahl's «Postens formidlere».
Photo: Birkhaug and Omdal

This beautiful interior is from around 1960 (the building was finished in 1956), and does no longer exist. What was originally the Main Post Office in Bergen, Norway, has now been turned into a mall, and it is totally changed.

I had one of my earliest moments of aesthetic satisfaction while waiting on line in this grand room when I was quite young. - Can you se how beautifully all the details in the room merge together? The very light frames around the windows that face a flight of stairs towards the street outside. The globe light pendants out there in the hallway. The slim furniture design with matching tables and benches. The typography of the signs.

- And do you get a sense of the overall light and spacious feeling the room gives? This is primarily achieved by a large skylight, which also benefits the huge painting above the ceiling.

That monumental work consists of several panels. It is 20 meters wide and 3 meters tall, and it was painted by Rolf Syrdahl to fit this particular space. The subject matter of this frieze-like painting is the important work that is done by those who distribute and deliver mail, and it fits very well into the long tradition of monumental painting that contributed to the building of a national consciousness and social democratic values in a relatively young nation.

This whole interior, which is elevated from the street outside, serves almost as a shrine to the postal service as an institution of great importance in society. But that is not really my main point today. What I would rather like to point out, is how perfectly Rolf Syrdahl's artwork was integrated with the architecture in the old post office.

Photo: Ørjan Deisz

When the old post office was turned into a mall, Rolf Syrdahl's painting was taken down and stored in a basement for many years. But yesterday it was unveiled at its new location, at Haukeland University Hospital in Bergen.

It has been restored and cleaned to get back its beautiful colors. And although its new location is far less ideal than the original one, the painting can again be viewed in a building that is open to the public.

Photo: Wyatting

No comments: