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The unfinished fresco at Oslo City Hall by the Norwegian artist Steinar Haga Kristensen.CreditKyrre Lien for The New York Times

OSLO — Steinar Haga Kristensen is a Norwegian artist who has little interest in labels. At 34, he makes work that runs a gamut of disciplines, including sculpture, painting, music and performance. Earlier this month, he presented his latest piece here: an unfinished fresco and an opera about its creation.

The opera, entitled “The Loneliness of the Index Finger (Part II): The Specialization of Sensibility in the Raw Conceptual State into Stabilized Theatrical Sensibility (Consensus Image),” was performed in his studio at the top of Oslo City Hall’s western tower, in the central Pipervika district, where he is an artist-in-residence. The work was part of Soft City, a free, three-day arts festival put on by Kunsthall Oslo, a nonprofit arts organization.

In the piece, Mr. Kristensen’s fresco acts as a backdrop for the opera and plays a critical role in the narrative, as the characters interact with it. He decided to make a large public fresco in part, he said, to reverse a trend. “Monumental art is over,” he explained, referring to works like the murals of the Norwegian artist Henrik Sorensen, painted in the main hall of the City Hall after World War II. “This sort of thing just isn’t commissioned anymore.”

Mr. Kristensen wanted to offer a modern take on an old form. The imagery in his fresco is made up of various figures, including women lying down with gray lumps of matter in their hands, which, according to Mr. Kristensen, represent the mutability of the democratic system.

While Mr. Kristensen’s work has been gaining international attention — in New York his work has been shown at the Armory and at this year’s Frieze art fair — so has his birthplace. Today Oslo is one of Europe’s most rapidly growing cities, largely because of its expanding oil industry, and Mr. Kristensen, along with a stable of Norwegian artists including Marius Engh, Ida Ekblad and Nils Bech, is part of a cultural resurgence in the flush Norwegian capital.

The government has been underwriting various campaigns to improve Oslo, such as the Fjord City project, an urban renewal initiative for the city’s waterfront, which saw the completion of Oslo’s opera house in 2007, and the Renzo Piano-designed Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art in 2012. The Munch Museum and the National Museum are also moving to new buildings near the city’s waterfront.

The Kunsthall Oslo organization is equally working to foster the country’s resurgent artistic identity. Will Bradley, Kunsthall Oslo’s artistic director, has high hopes for artists here. Good curators are increasingly organizing strong shows with support from the Norwegian government, he said. “The art scene is the most vibrant it’s been in years. Maybe ever.”

Despite the Norwegian government’s support of the arts, Mr. Kristensen chose to focus his 50-minute opera and fresco on what he sees as the pitfalls of the country’s “representative democracy.” “Everyone has power, but no one feels like they are in power,” he explained.

The work was a collaboration between Mr. Kristensen, who wrote the libretto, and the composers Morten Norbye Halvorsen and Trond Reinholdtsen, who provided the score, which was produced entirely by the City Hall’s 49-bell carillon in the tower opposite the studio. Because of the instrument’s distance from the performance space, cables were run from one tower to the other, and microphones were posited in the bell tower.

Oslo City Hall, situated on the city shore facing the Oslo Fjord and the venue of the Nobel Peace Prize awards ceremony every December, is, ironically, a product of the consensual democratic process that Mr. Kristensen criticizes. Construction began in 1931, but it wasn’t until May 1950 that the doors finally opened. “It was built by consensus,” said Per Gunnar Svalas, a guide at the City Hall, “which is why it took so long.” A 20th-century modernist structure designed by Norwegian architects, the building — often affectionately referred to as the “goat cheese” (its brown, rectangular shape is similar to the country’s product) — is made entirely from Norwegian materials. “It’s a secular cathedral; a monument to Norwegian principles of integration and cooperation,” said Mr. Svalas.

Mr. Kristensen’s work is part of a planned trilogy, the first of which was performed in 2009 at UKS, a contemporary art gallery in Oslo. “Part II” plays on themes in Norwegian culture and politics with each voice in the opera representing a trope: the tenor the artist, the soprano the state, and the choir the populace. “There’s a problem in the beginning,” Mr. Kristensen said, “and it’s solved by consensus.”

While Mr. Kristensen has benefited in his career from some group decisions, including his residency in Oslo, he maintains an anarchic dislike of consensual democracy in his work.

“Consensus,” Mr. Kristensen said, “is always ugly.” But, he added, it is also how most things in Norway have been achieved in its time as an independent country — as the frescoes and friezes throughout the great halls of the Oslo City Hall depict. “Some people will think it’s funny,” he said, referring to his work, “but it’s horribly desperate and sad.”

According to Mr. Kristensen, trying to reach consensus is a fool’s errand — something that prevents work from getting done — and everyone is made to believe they have a say, “but very few people actually feel they have any power.” The artist, who doesn’t offer any alternatives or solutions in his opera, plans to write a third installment of the “Loneliness” series in the next five years.

Next summer, after he has finished the fresco, and his residency comes to an end at the City Hall, Mr. Kristensen will paint over it. But because a fresco is pigment on wet plaster, it will be preserved. “It’s a time traveler and will remain here forever,” he said. “I look forward to covering it,” he added. “Then the work will be complete.”