Alf Rolfsen depicts the modern age here, with the railway station representing urbanity, speedy movement, and industrial society’s use of new materials. The large, streaming trains and the iron constructions of the building frame the busy people hustling to and fro in the foreground. The woman on the left gives us a quick glance as she and her companion pass by; they have seemingly just arrived, and are flanked by anonymous porters in uniform. The platform and the two trains fading into the distance add perspective. We can discern several figures in the background, including two figures locked in an embrace, whether in greeting or in farewell. Different narratives have been captured in this snapshot.
Rolfsen often depicted human figures, and his pictures were frequently narrative and, as is the case here, influenced by the simplified forms and geometric composition of cubism. Primary colours are used as contrasts, but the basic colour scheme is nevertheless subdued. Rolfsen was fascinated by architecture and thought for a while of training to be an architect. He opted instead to study painting at the Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen (1913–16), an academy where the classical tradition still held sway. Rolfsen travelled later on to Italy, where he studied the art of the Renaissance, and to Paris, where he studied the more formal aspects of painting.
Alf Rolfsen is also known for his frescoes – he, Axel Revold, and Per Krohg were in fact known as the “Fresco Brothers”, and their frescoes decorate quite a few well-known public buildings in Norway.
Text: Marianne Yvenes
From "Highlights. Art from Antiquity to 1945", Nasjonalmuseet 2014, ISBN 978-82-8154-088-0