Solo Show - new paintings
January 31.–March 1., 2009
Tore Juell is born in Kragerø, Norway, 1942.
Tore’s father was a clothier, and a successful one. He was an artistic man, but never considered that “art” could be a career. Selling clothes was a better way to make money. However, his son the young Tore, began lying on the floor and drawing from 5 years of age. This continued all the way through school. His only interest was art and he was lucky that some of his teachers allowed him time to pursue this during school hours. He spent many hours drawing his teachers, rather than studying what they were trying to instil into him. Talent not withstanding, there were still parental objections. “My father wanted me to be anything but a painter!”
When he finished high school, Tore decided he wanted to be the Walt Disney of Norway and he was enrolled in a commercial art school, his father reasoning that at least with “commercial” art, perhaps this son of his would have a chance of supporting himself in life. Graduating from there, Tore spent 12 months doing cartoons and animated commercial advertisements. Hardly great “art” but it paid bills.
However, in 1962 there was a painting exhibition held in his home town Kragerø with works by all the top painters in Norway. Young Tore was invited to the event, which changed his life entirely. “I saw a painting that hit me like lightning. It was a landscape done in oils, borrowed from the National Gallery. This was what I wanted to do! So I quit my job!”
He enrolled at the Art & Craft School of Norway (the equivalent of a national academy) for 2 years. “I spent most of the time in restaurants with artists and listened and looked. My father said he would give my any education that I wanted – if I would quit painting. But I could not.”
His partner was a nurse, who in true selflessness supported him during this initial phase. They bought an old car and they began to go through Europe visiting all the famous galleries, such as the Louvre in France, where Tore would spend hours looking at the works of the masters, such as Rembrandt. He began to understand himself and to realise his need to paint – and much of that was portraits.
Being an unknown, people were not flocking to his door with orders for portraits, so he began by generating his own orders. “I would tell people they had a fantastic face and I would do their portrait. If they liked it, sometimes they bought it!”
They meandered on through Europe to Spain, a country that has had much influence upon Tore. “I had a strange feeling in Spain that I had been there before.” He also knew that the famous concert pianist Arthur Rubinstein lived in Marbella (Costa del Sol) and he wanted to do his portrait. He wrote with his request and was told that Rubinstein was willing to sit for him – but in Paris! So they went back to France where Tore painted the famous man. This was another turning point.
Rubinstein was giving a farewell concert in Marbella and Tore was invited down to present the portrait at the event. Not only did Rubinstein like his portrait but a member of the audience liked it too and requested that Tore do his portrait as well. That was the movie star Mel Ferrer. The way to become rich and famous is to paint the rich and famous. Well, to make enough to live off, at least!
His portraits have made him renowned in his native Norway, and when he was asked if he would like to paint the Norwegian King’s portrait for the parliamentary building he considered it a great honour, especially as he only lives part of the year in his native Norway. Based in Marbella, Spain, Tore Juell is constantly travelling, painting landscapes and portraits.
Written by Dr. Iain Corness