Elling Reitan is today one of Norway’s most renowned and popular contemporary multidisciplinary artists. With his personal expression and unique focus on bold colours and symbolism, Reitan has come to play in important role on the modern art scene.


Often referred to as the artist with the beautiful colours, Elling Reitan invites the viewer to find their own interpretation of his artwork. Influenced by Edvard Munch and religious Middle Age motifs, he also takes inspiration from his travels and the colours around him.


Reitan’s passion for art started at an early age, but he decided to study philosophy and history of literature before starting a career as a lecturer. Reitan always practiced art as a hobby, and as soon as he started exhibiting, the significant feedback and sales meant he could cut down on lecturing and focus on his passion. In 1992, he decided to dedicate his full time to being an artist.


In his early career Elling Reitan was mentored by the Norwegian painters Odd Nerdrum, Bjørn Sverrbo and Jens Johannessen. He has dedicated to Johannessen his use of the butterfly motif which in many of Reitan’s works spreads its wings out from a woman’s body or from a Shakespearean “picture within a picture”. The influence from Nerdrum’s modern classicist style and themes, somber and sparse use of colour, is apparent in several of Reitan’s early works.


However, Elling Reitan always knew he was a colourist. And it was only after he finished his five year period working as a pupil of Nerdrum that he started experimenting more and saw his own vivid palette and symbolic style develop. Reitan’s love of colour combined with his surrealistic expression have played an important role in his success. Today he is known as “the artist with the beautiful colours”.


Although Reitan is known for his vivid colours, he is also famed for his use of the stroke pair, which first appeared in 1983. The pair stems from the Chinese philosophy of Yin and Yang, symbolising opposites that together form a whole. He started portraying them in his paintings not only to create depth and perspective, but because the two silhouettes stand for dualism. Today, the stroke pair has found its place in all of his works on an equal level to his own signature.


Since his debut in 1979, Reitan has participated in more than 150 exhibitions in Norway and abroad, including at Redwood Museum in Beijing, the Nordic Heritage Museum in Seattle, and Noyes Museum of Art in Atlantic City, as well as in New York, Oslo, and Singapore.


Elling Reitan is a multidisciplinary artist mastering not only the art of oil painting, but also that of graphic works, such as lithography and serigraphy, aquarelle and charcoal.

Selected exhibitions:

2021: Edvard Munch Gallery, Helnæs, Fyn, Denmark

2019: Galleri Pingvin, Oslo, Galleri S, Kleive

2018: Galleri Pingvin, Oslo, Galleri Athene, Drammen, Modern Art Gallery, Trondheim with Oda Victoria and Oscar Reitan, Dombås/Lesja Kunstforening, Noyes Museum of Art, Atlantic City, USA.

2017: Galleri Pingvin, Ryvarden Kulturfyr, Galleri Fenka, Levanger


2016: Galleri Pingvin, Art Stage Singapore


2015: Galleri Pingvin, Opera Festival Exhibit, Kristiansund, Galleri S, Kleive, Galleri Amare, Stavanger


2014: Galleri Pingvin, Westwood Gallery, New York, Asia Contemporary Artfair, Art Miami with Westwood Gallery.


2013: Shanghai Artfair, Art Miami with Westwood Gallery.


2012: Redwood Museum, Beijing, Galleri SG, Trondheim, Galleri Fineart, Oslo


2008 and 2011: Solo Exhibitions at Time&Space Gallery, Bangalore.


2006: Gallerie Ott, Dusseldorf


2004: The Nordic Heritage Museum, Seattle


Collections: HM Queen Sonja ( gift from Kristiansund Community) ,Department of Fisheries, Army Supplies, David Sackler, USA, David Bechham, Ole Gunnar Solskjær and more.


2 paintings sold at Heritage Auctions, USA. In Dallas, Texas 2015 and in New York 2016.