Erling Solheim Biography

Erling Solheim




Painter, illustrator, and theater set designer Erling Solheim was born in Bryggjan, Iceland on March 13, 1911. A self-taught regionalist, he was known for his images of the Nordfjord villages of Norway. After primary school, Solheim was sent to middle school in Ålesund, Norway and later secondary school at Eid. During his secondary-school years, he painted a number of pictures that were hung on the walls in the school building.

Solheim never had the chance to attend formal art school, and as such was self-taught in both drawing and painting. He grew up on a farm and the flora and fauna of his surroundings provided much of the inspiration needed to establish himself as a Norwegian regionalist. One of his first major works was a multi panel scene commissioned for the village hall at Blakset when Solheim was just around 17 years old. The scene, which shows the view towards the Hildeneset and the Innvikfjord, is still preserved in the building that replaced the original. The most common motifs found in his oeuvre are inspired by the Nordfjord countryside, however, he traveled frequently and was also known to draw exotic animals such tigers and pandas, perhaps found in zoos. 

Erling Solheim died in Nordfjord, Norway in 1973. In September of 2020, collectors in Norway established the Erling Solheim Kunstorening (art association) with the aim of cataloguing and disseminating his artwork.