More than anything else, Greenland is a country of extreme contrast that challenges the perceptions of visitors.
Greenland provokes strong feelings and emotions in the vast majority of visitors. There's no middle road: Greenland has a discernible impact on everyone who visits.
This can also be seen in Greenland's art, which bears rich testimony to the natural surroundings that put everything into perspective, which influence and challenge and which demand answers.
The source to art
These answers are found in the form of paintings, sculptures, carvings, photography and many other aspects of the richness of the art of Greenland. The country itself is a work of art that has inspired countless other forms of expressions of art. It's a country that makes such a strong impression, it's only natural that it causes the artistic juices to flow in many people.
Peace to get to the core
Many Greenlandic artists claim that they find greater peace and tranquillity in Greenland; more tranquillity than in other places in the world, in which the everyday chaos of rush hours, media, emails and meetings doesn't allow the artistic flower to blossom. Peace and tranquillity are indeed greater in Greenland, and this enables the artist to listen to his inner voice and to get to the very core of his art.
The inspirational Greenland
Perhaps that's why you meet art everywhere in Greenland and amongst many Greenlanders. It's as if Greenland provides the breeding ground for more artists than in other countries - relative to the size of the population. In fact, it's almost as if everyone in Greenland is an artist at heart, whether this is expressed by a painting or a small sculpture, a song or a short piece of prose just waiting to get out. It's as if life in Greenland provides more inspiration - the scenery, the light, the sea, the weather, the snow, the ice - or that people in Greenland are more open to inspiration.
Light of every shade
Furthermore, the very distinct shifts in terms of weather from season to season, which are more pronounced than those experienced elsewhere on the planet, likely fuel the expression of art in unique ways. It's a highly insistent source of inspiration that's led to many people in Greenland interpreting experiences and impressions in artistic form. Moreover, it's spiced with the striking impressions provided by the changing light in Greenland - ranging from the delicate and almost fragile light cast by the moon and the northern lights on the snow and ice during a Polar night to the dominant and prevailing light of the midnight sun during the summer, where icebergs, the sea and human eyes are brilliantly illuminated by the sun's rays.
Visual arts are new
However, what sort of art do you find in Greenland?
In addition to music, song, literature, photography and video art, it's the art of carving, e.g. tupilaks and the decoration of hunting tools and, as in many places elsewhere, the visual arts that grab the attention.
Today, the visual arts are practised to a great extent in Greenland, but can't claim to be an art form that has a long history in the country. In fact, it's a modern phenomenon in Greenland and a product of the import of culture from the rest of the world.
The first encounter with pencil and paper
For instance, the so-called "drawing frenzy" experienced by Knud Rasmussen and Harald Moltke when they gave out pencils and paper to the Polar Eskimos during the Literary Expedition of Greenland, 1902-04, was probably the result of the Polar Eskimos' first ever encounter with pencil and paper (hear and read more about the "drawing frenzy" at Ilulissat Museum
Earlier types of art in Greenland have typically been in the form of tupilaks, the decoration of hunting tools and other handicrafts. Otherwise, art has been based on story-telling traditions (the handing down and oral communication of historical tales, myths and legends) and songs, etc.