Photo: Pernille Augustson

The painter Ross Kolby

Kolby's paintings are often political and references classical art, historical events and debate contemporary topics. With the use of both modern and classical symbols as well as symbolic persons Kolby has worked with themes as racism, the clerical abuse of children in the Catholic Church, pollution, discrimination of minorities and terrorism, with the Anders Behring Breivik 2011 Norway Attacks.

Kolby received death threaths in 1997 when about to exhibit his historical painting The murder of Pope John Paul I in Oslo and withdrew the painting from the show. He also works extensively with portraits and has among others painted the three generations of Norwegian monarchs involved in the events of WWII and Dame Vera Lynn.

His paintings are found in the permanent collection of Norway's Crown Regalia Museum, Norway's Resistance Museum, The Norwegian Naval Museum as well as in the Royal Albert Hall.

Early life and education

Ross Kolby was born in 1970 in Baerum on the outskirts of Oslo in Norway. He began his artistic education at Asker Art School near Oslo, and continued at The National College of Art and Design in Oslo for five years, where he graduated in the summer of 1998. There he studied drawing, painting, sculpture and graphic arts. Kolby also frequented the Accademia di Belle Arti in Rome and Viterbo in Italy for a year.

He principally works with the oil painting, creating canvases receiving splendid response by the audience and the critics. Kolby held his first separate exhibition in Galerie Susanne Hojriis in Copenhagen in November 1998, and was named "The Norwegian Rembrandt" by a Danish newspaper.

Inspired by artists such as Titian (1488-1576), Caravaggio (1571-1610), Rembrandt (1606-1669), Velázquez (1599-1660) and Turner (1775-1851), via the French impressionists to Edvard Munch (1863-1944), Francis Bacon (1909-1992), and Lucian Freud (1922-2011), Kolby creates canvases which combine the monumental classical painting with the 20th century’s simplified and minimalistic aesthetics.

"With a painting that communicates directly with its reporting and recognizing content, I want to give the spectator experiences in an organic expression. I view it as a strength when a person is seen, experienced and painted by another human, and that it gives the work a value in a society where the technology continuously spreads and interrupts Man from his origin – nature itself."

Ross Kolby

Activity as a painter