September 10, 2016
I would come back to Norway, just to see Vigelandsparken. Vigeland’s sculptures are the most engaging and moving sculptures I’ve ever seen. Imbedded in 80 acres of lush parkland, trees, lakes and streams, the sculptor Vigeland designed a series of bridges, formal gardens and geometric terraces for delighting the eye, refreshing the spirit, and displaying his works.
His pathway starts with a bridge, whose portal is flanked on both sides not by the guardian lions that you would find in Paris, but by strange serpents erotically entwining resisting and submitting nude females
The bridge is populated with stone renderings of men and women in motion and in contemplation, solo and in communion. Their poses emote tenderness, longing, striving, strength, waiting and burden-bearing. All is youth, adults in prime, children in anger and satisfaction, parents with offspring. Those on one side of the bridge beckon to those on the other side.
A pause, then, for contemplation, as we stroll through a massive geometric rose garden.
We enter now a plaza with a powerfully gushing fountain. Surrounding, humans are clinging, reaching, trapped or nearly drowning within tree-like water plants. On one side, the humans within are young and playful. As you progress, the other side depicts struggle, distress, death, imprisonment. Small frescoes, which at first are overlooked, each evoke a different human drama.
We walk on, up wide, gently escalating steps. Four finely wrought gates invited from east, north, south and west. Leading up to an obelisk are sculptures of people at every life stage. No one stood alone. All were humans in relationship. Each grouping evoked an aspect of human living. Progressing in a ring were depictions of every life stage, from playful childhood to wistful contemplation in old age.
A towering column graced the highest point in the park. Entirely formed of human figures, limbs interlaced, reaching, draping, one upon the other, building a tower of human life. Powerfully, the artist suggests that civilization rises higher and higher, built upon the lives and achievements of those that came before. Over time, the single individual merges with the mass. No one is crushed. No one alone bears the weight of all.
After a few hours in this park, I felt I had experienced a lifetime, actually many lives. There is no wonder that the city of Oslo built a house and studio for this genius of design and sculpture. I would recommend a flight to Oslo just to experience Vigelands Parken. There is nothing like it in the world.