'Fahrt nach Nikel'    2014

My Journey to Nikel 2008


It was cold, very cold, and the flight to Kirkenes was delayed. Dark grey clouds hung over snow covered land. From the tarmac, we marched in line to the building. In the arrival hall, our glasses steamed up instantly. We were asked to wait in front of the terminal. The ride to the hotel was short, the evening, long. The bus was already waiting for us the next day. The journey to Murmansk started. A new world began at the Russian border. We saw only sky, clouds, snow and windows. The border control formalities by the Norwegian customs officials were conducted in a friendly and quiet atmosphere. I had to walk through a large cabin-like scanner and was checked meticulously without any emotional reactions. After these formalities, I had to walk through a turnstile without my luggage, and on the Russian side, my passport and customs papers, as well as my luggage were handed to me. Back on the bus, we were instructed on how to behave: no picture taking during the trip; no stopping; no opening of windows; no questions; no explanations--rather spooky. We drove on a straight, poorly built, wall-lined street, frozen and bare, no humans in sight, just burned and dead trees.There was no smoke, only grey skies, dirty landscaped snow, dark dead area, marshland, waterholes, lakes, and in the distance, a city, Nikel, looking like the surrounding countryside we passed through, a military zone. No foreigner is welcome. Even my fellow Norwegian and Russian travelers wore blank expressions. The view was burned soil, poisoned earth, the result of mining nickel. Smoke and pesticide had damaged the people, animals and landscape severely. The sun broke through, the low hanging smoky fog lifted a bit and blue water glittered, green water areas appeared and brown-black stones twinkled in the light. The black looking greasy, coal painted tree- stumps rise from the shimmering background. Somewhere I see some beige yellow, perhaps marsh plants. Beauty is present, palpable and to be experienced. I see the beauty and contemplatively immerse myself in the passing landscape. Time stands still.

-- TG Wiebus


The painting "Journey to Nikel" has the format 120 x 110 cm. It is small, less noticeable, forming a gateway picture. It is a clear composition with a high horizon, little structuring in the upper third of the painting: more horizontal than vertical, large patches of light and cold are overlaid. The layers of color shine through, but seem opaque. From outside, the paining is hermetic. The solution comes from the paining itself. Fine cracks in the white veins of color fractures cautiously test out of the cold. Reconstitution and reanimation. Traces of humanity. Not a scene of destruction; time for reflection.


Nikel is a Russian city in NW Russia, about 7 km from Norway. It belongs to the county of Murmansk. The extraction of nickel in the area resulted in large sulphur dioxide emissions which killed the massive forest and negatively impacted the surrounding habitats.