in a small town in Norway, Tore Djupedal moved to the states with
his mother and siblings when he was four; his father was already
there as the Statue of Liberty greeted them. Tore remembers going
to the Empire State Building and wandering around the canyons of
Manhattan holding his father's hand. Tore grew up in Ohio but has
lived in many places: Fort Lauderdale, Santa Fe, Chicago, Los Angeles,
Albuquerque, Miami and Big Pine Key. He also spent a good deal of
time in Canada and Europe. Tore and his wife, Tanja, landed in Eugene,
Ore., in March 2004. Their 15-month-old twin boys, Rembrandt and
Romeo, were born in Portland, which the family now calls home.
The ground floor
Tore Djupedal has experimented with nearly all mediums in his artwork,
though painting in oils has been his mainstay. Sculpturally, he's
worked with clay, steel, stone, wood, blown glass, bronze and discarded
plastics. In two dimensions, he's tried acrylic, watercolor, pencil,
pen and ink, oil stick, gouache, pastels and house paint.
"There was a period when I worked with fresco buono,"
he said. "This led to an interest in powdered pigment.
the Black Hole"
"Initially I used it on canvas with acrylic gel. I next tried
powdered pigment with gel on various fabrics, including burlap
sometimes mixed with sawdust and other debris.
"After a few years I went back to oils and added areas of
gold, silver or copper leaf during the mid- to late-'90s."
When Tore moved to Oregon, he made the decision to work on the
floor. At the time it seemed like a big step, but he now realizes
he'd actually been inching his way toward it for years.
"Painting with thin washes of oil since taking a fresco workshop
back in 1985 had channeled me toward a looser paint application,"
he said. "I poured paint. I dripped using brushes or containers.
I launched golf balls into the wet canvas. I tried compressed air.
I was learning to work with gravity.
"One common technique is to let the wet paint run and then
turn the canvas over to reverse the process or halt the drip. Often
I laid the canvas flat to work certain areas or shapes. This constant
handling of the canvas became increasingly impractical on the larger
stretched pieces. The main reason I hadn't switched to the floor
earlier was that I was uncomfortable with the limited distance I
could get away from the canvas to work."
Separate but equal
Despite this, Tore went ahead and moved to the floor. He also began
using latex and alkyd house paints because of their liquidity and
relative economy. His palette and paint handling appeared to change
In addition, he went back to working on fabrics starting
with plaids, bold floral prints or lizard and snakeskin as background
for his paint.
"I used blatant commercial patterns," he said. "I
found fabrics that I felt would mix well with the loose, gestural
strokes. I tried to separate my new work from what I had done before.
New work for a new place.
"Looking at those pieces now I see that some of them are very
strong, very tight. The fabric and paint complement each other handsomely.
In the best of them there is a seamless interplay between paint
and fabric, which allows each partner to support the other in the
manner of a duet."
Due to this painting technique, the obvious comparisons of Tore's
work to Jackson Pollock's are inevitable.
"Pollock made such a massive creative leap in his time that
everyone who handles paint in a similar fashion is forced to stand
in his shadow," he said. "That is the curse. On the other
hand anyone who knows Pollock, even if from cartoons, can reference
his painting and feel a familiarity or kinship to my work that might
otherwise not exist."
Since moving to Portland Tore has continued with this technique
but replaced the patterned cloth with strong solid colors and, most
recently, a return to canvas. The newest pieces also incorporate
a field of letters with the overall stick-and-drip technique he's
"Words are created using international currency symbols as
letters," he said. "This gives them just enough juice
to be fairly unreadable. That, coupled with the additional veils
of paint on top, completes the picture. I spell out my anger or
frustration or joy in a very specific set of words yet the meaning
remains private and personal. Just another code."
In 2004 Tore took classes in oil portraiture and figure painting,
primarily as an exercise and because he loves the old masters.
"The technique was very traditional, yet geared toward quick
results a blend of old and new school. I reined in my expressionist
impulses and tried to absorb as much technique as possible. It was
great fun and I learned much in the process," he said.
Just a moment
As a result, Tore went back to basics in his approach to oils. Early
last year he began staying home to take care of his sons. Since
he was unable to work on large pieces at home he also began to paint
"I did mainly apples and other fruit but had several forays
into more contemporary subject matter," he said. "Some
of these pieces I've shown at a small space on Southeast Hawthorne
and another on North Mississippi.
"It might seem that the combination of my neo abstract expressionist
minimalist pop and old-master still life just doesn't add up. My
sculptures range from bronze abstractions to recycled plastic narrative
and, if you throw in the slick computer-based imagery that I generate
on my Mac, then surely I must be schizophrenic."
It's actually Tore's reaction to the here and now. Given the massive
image flow in the world around us, he cannot help but to respond
in kind. To a lesser degree, it's determined by the methodology
and medium he's employing at any given moment.
"We are barraged by images all day, every day," he said.
"The idea that one's style should be frozen into a single linear
train of thought is both outmoded and repressive.
"That said, I believe my concerns are much the same regardless
of the material with which I choose to work: My place in the world.
A need for beauty and truth, not always simultaneously. Integrity.
Humor. Heat. Love. Life. Death."
Give and take
Tore's list of favorite artists is extensive and all have influenced
him in some way: Rembrandt and Carravagio for their drama and sense
of light. The Flemish painters for their humanity. Gaugin, Van Gogh
and Matisse for color. Picasso for grand vision. Fra Angelico for
humility and abstract reality. Arp and Duchamp for humor and absurdity.
Munch for emotion. Agnes Martin for steadfastness. Pollock for freedom.
Keifer for integrity. Anish Kapoor for simple beauty. Bueys and
Warhol for irreverence. Judd and Michelangelo for purity. Koons
and Schnabel for bombastic ego.
"I get a little bit here, a little bit there," he said.
"The ideas come from anywhere ... a snippet of conversation,
a book, a cloud. Sometimes they lie dormant for years, decades even,
and then spring forth. Others arrive fully formed.
"Most often it is an improvisational give and take with the
canvas, paint and myself.
"I still like to work in 3D from time to time but currently
it's for my own pleasure," he said. "It is in some sense
a personal pursuit. I'm sure I'll turn to it again in the broader
Eye to eye
Because Tore's family is in the process of buying a house, he recently
gave up his studio. In the meantime, he's temporarily working out
of a garage. He also has not shown his work much in the past few
"The reasons are many," he said. "I've moved several
times cross-country. I've been traveling. Building a new life. Having
"To be brutally honest, it may be due to my frustration and
relative lack of success with the artist-to-gallery-to-collector
paradigm. It forces everyone to be a salesman and marketing genius
rather than a good artist. The best artists are defined by the market
savvy. Some will say that's sour grapes. Partly true. But, I go
to a gallery or a recently opened museum and see the work. A few
pieces are very good. Most are mediocre at best. Should this make
me happy? I know that my work is as good and better. Isn't that
what an art education trained me to see? So what to do? Keep working.
Keep looking for that one dealer with a true eye. Be in the right
place at the right time."
Tore does have a tiny gallery space at 1515 NW 18th Avenue, between
Quimby and Raleigh on the west side of the street. He used to call
it the Skinny Room because he's able to hang only one very large
canvas at a time. He recently changed the name to the Tore Djupedal
"I try to change the pieces on a weekly basis and will continue
doing so," he said. "In that sense I'm always showing
As a child, Tore was always drawing or playing with Lincoln Logs,
an Erector Set, Play-Doh and an Etch-a-Sketch. He attended a few
art classes where he made animals and other objects with clay.
"I still have a little black horse as well as a lot of drawings
from that time," he said. "It's uncanny how closely some
of my adult work resembles the scribbling of my childhood."
Tore and his siblings received plenty of encouragement from their
parents, always visiting museums on their yearly vacations. Eventually,
all but Tore gravitated toward music. One sister is an opera singer
and voice teacher, the other a pianist. His brother runs a museum
in Norway, plays guitar and writes.
"Although neither parent was an artist per se, they both expressed
their creativity in many ways," he said. "My mother knitted
intricately patterned woolen sweaters, socks and mittens for the
family. In the early years she occasionally sold her sweaters. She
also tried her hand at ceramics and watercolor from time to time.
Both played the organ and piano."
Tore's father was an engineer.
"He had a wonderful touch with a pen," Tore said. "He
used to joke that he couldn't think straight without a pencil in
his hand. At the end of his career he designed both a new steel
mill and a containerized shipping facility but was equally skilled
with more intimate projects. While we were young he showed us how
to carve and work with wood, something he passed on to us from his
own father, a master carver. The last thing he made was a lovely
cherrywood dining room table."
Tore took only one art class in high school. Afterwards he returned
to Norway for a year and made a conscious decision to become an
artist. He went to Ohio State University and earned his BFA. He
taught for three years at the Canton Art Institute, but found that
it took so much time to be a competent teacher that there was none
left for his own art, so he gave up teaching.
Mad at Them Eggs"
"Ever since I was a young man I wanted nothing else but to
be an artist," he said. "It seemed at that time like the
finest kind of life. Creating objects of beauty and passion. A life
of freedom. Intelligent articulate people. The ability to move vertically
through society. Was it Freud who said 'fame, fortune and beautiful
lovers'? Something like that. A young man's reasons."
Now Tore creates art because he can't stop. He may go months without
making a piece but then something comes over him and the work starts
to pour out again. A new train of thought calls forth a series of
"It's as if they pile up in my brain and then the sheer weight
of them collapses whatever scaffolding holds them in place and they
tumble down onto the floor," he said.
"I believe I will keep working forever. My goal now is to
have the means to provide for my family and still be able to fully
realize any piece of which I conceive. My dream is to create one