One of the first artists in Norway to develop abstract painting in the 1950s and 1960s was the painter and printmaker Knut Rumohr. In the late 1940s, Rumohr studied under Jean Heiberg and Georg Jacobsen at the Academy of Fine Art in Oslo, where he learned about geometric techniques of composition. He gradually developed a more spontaneous, crisp, and instinctive technique, which comes to the fore in expressive works based on impressions from nature. Rumohr was clearly inspired by the abstractions that the CoBrA group, the abstract expressionists, and other movements manifested in the 1950s. The scenery around his place of origin Lærdal on the Sognefjord was another vital source of inspiration for his art, which is typified by its abstract portrayals of mountains, fjords, and trees.
Tree Trunk is a tripartite composition, where forthright, horizontal strokes of paint define the left- and right-hand areas, while the central area is depicted with denser strokes, adding a compactly vertical element to the picture. In addition, the shorter, airier strokes in the background add a certain depth to the picture and thrust the central part to the foreground. Rumohr has depicted the tree trunk up close, describing the surface of the tree with an earthy palette rich in ochre, green, violet, and black, in contrast to the lighter blues and violets of the background. He has stuck to a classic three-fold composition, where the compositional principle of the golden section helps balance the picture. The depiction of the tree is nonetheless dramatic and almost aggressive. The aging, moss-grown trunk may even have had a symbolic meaning for the artist.
Text: Randi Godø
From "Highlights. Art from 1945 to the Present", Nasjonalmuseet 2016, ISBN 978-82-8154-116-0