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Queen Sonja opens new gallery in Tours with President Hollande

Her Majesty Queen Sonja of Norway participated at the official opening of the new art gallery “Olivier Debré” at the Centre for Contemporary Arts in Tours, France, with French President François Hollande on Thursday.

The reason why Queen Sonja attended the opening is that it has a strong connection to Norwegian art. The Queen held an opening speech in French and impressed the audience with her knowledge of the language. “Today we celebrate the art, architecture and the good relations between France and Norway,” said the Queen initially in her speech.

The opening of the new centre took place in a brand new building designed by the Portuguese architect Manuel Francisco Aires Mateus. In addition to being a centre for contemporary art through thirty years, CCC-OD manages the legacy of the French artist Olivier Debré (1920-1999). Centre de Création Contemporaine Olivier Debré was opened in 1984 and was one of the very first created by the French Ministry of Culture and Communication. The centre is more than 4,500 square meters in size.

“The exhibition is a unique opportunity to showcase Norwegian art in France. The occasion represents a milestone for French-Norwegian art dialogue and cooperation.”

Queen Sonja of Norway

Read the Queen’s speech here (in French).

The Queen working on one of her art pieces. Photo: Rolf M. Aagaard / Det kongelige hoff.

The official opening of the new CCC-OD is marked by extensive exhibits in various ways related to Norway. The exhibition “Olivier Debré: a trip to Norway” presents the painter’s works inspired by his many trips to the Kingdom of Norway. Many of these paintings come from different Norwegian collections. In addition, the works by several Norwegian artists are present in the exhibition, including Per Barclay, Thora Dolven Balke, Tiril Hasselknippe Ahmad Ghossein, Saman Kamyab, Ignas Krunglevicius, Kamilla Jensen, Lars Laumann, Solveig Lønseth, Ann Cathrin November Høibo, Linn Pedersen and AK Dolven.

Queen Sonja is very interested in art, and she has always been. As recently as last October, the Queen opened a brand new arts centre in the Norwegian town of Trondheim. The Queen is a skilled artist herself. She has created a large number of art objects and cooperated with numerous great artists, including Kjell Nupen. Her Majesty has, for many years, handed out “The Queen Sonja Print Award” which is awarded every two years. Until 2014, this prize was exclusively intended for artists from the Nordic nations, but in 2014, it was made into an international award. That same year the Queen established a brand new award “The Kjell Nupen Memorial Grant” in memory of her good friend, Kjell Nupen.

Read more about Queen’s artistic career here.

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