The wide expanses of majestic fjords and lonely desolate skerries of Halogaland burst and bloom with colors in the summertime. Not so in winter. Winter is the time of cold and dark, the time when all the colors of the land and sea become dirty whites and dark grays, the time when only the true shape of things matters, be it a swift fjellrev fox or a huge hulking whale-hross. If you haven’t wintered in my beloved land, you haven’t seen the true shape of things.
It looks like Silke Otto-Knapp has wintered with us at least once. Her works are devoid of colors, they are muted and cold. There are moonlit landscapes with fjords and skerries and calm, calm sea, like on those autumn nights when the first thin, black ice starts to form. The only thing these paintings are missing is the achingly familiar, sleek form of my beloved horse of the swan-road, my dragon-ship, The Sea-Tooth. Alas, my dear vessel, shall I ever see you again?
There are also people in these paintings, barefoot people wearing strange clothes and strange hats. They move about and huddle together to escape the cold. I do not know what these people are doing out of doors on such a night. At my household, even the last thrall is dressed warmer than that.
When I return to my beloved land and see once more that stern and severe country, I shall make sure to send Otto-Knapp a firkin of my best winter ale and, perhaps, a skin of an elk.
Otthar of Nidaros (also known as Ohthere and Ottar fra Halogaland) is a IX century Viking explorer and adventurer. He has traveled far and wide over the world, fought in many battles and has seen many remarkable things, both wondrous and terrible.
Born in Norway in 841, he is self-educated. He has been favorably received at the court of Alfred the Great of Wessex and his work has been extensively cited in Historiarum Adversum Paganos Libri Septim by Paulus Orosius.
Otthar currently resides in New York City where he is trying his hand at reviewing art.