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Odd Nerdrum Exhibits “Crime & Refuge” Amidst Legal Woes

Internationally renowned Norwegian painter Odd Nerdrum has played the role of both national treasure and art-political rebel since the 1970s. As the founder of the Kitsch movement, he opposed the abstract and conceptual art that dominated Norway at the time in favor of honoring the old world traditions of Rembrandt and Caravaggio. His outspoken views against the modernist "art establishment" and socialist art programs in Norway has elicited backlash from his peers and, as he claims, negative attention from national authorities.

Internationally renowned Norwegian painter Odd Nerdrum has played the role of both national treasure and art-political rebel since the 1970s. As the founder of the Kitsch movement, he opposed the abstract and conceptual art that dominated Norway at the time in favor of honoring the old world traditions of Rembrandt and Caravaggio. His outspoken views against the modernist “art establishment” and socialist art programs in Norway has elicited backlash from his peers and, as he claims, negative attention from national authorities.

In recent years, Nerdrum’s life has been plagued by health issues and legal woes. In April 2016, just weeks before his latest solo show “Crime & Refuge” opened in the U.S., the 72 year-old was sentenced to prison and barred from leaving Norway on charges of tax fraud. Given his recent troubles and longstanding status as an outsider, it’s no surprise that “Crime & Refuge” would offer a rather bleak perspective on the human experience.

The paintings on exhibition are filled with archetypal themes of judgement and exile, mirroring the narrative based style and figurative technique of the Old Masters. Nerdrum utilized the ancient “Apelles palette” using only yellows, reds, blacks and whites to create the apocalyptic landscapes where these dramatic scenes unfold. The works are on display at the Booth Gallery in Manhattan through July 30th. Learn more about Odd Nerdrum and his work in the latest issue of Hi-Fructose.


Bork Nerdrum


Left to right: David Stoupakis, Aprella Barle, Scout Opatut, David Molesky, Vincent Castiglia Opatut


Left to right: Jeremy Hush, Sophie Reapstress


Left to right: Roberto Ferri, Simona Gatto

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Oakland, California based photographer Debra Kay Burger, aka DK Burger, creates ethereal and provocative images that look like they are from another time. Using traditional darkroom techniques, she gives her work the qualities of foggy vintage snapshots with a touch of Odd Nerdum. Some of these techniques include dodging, burning, and masking, which look similar to digital manipulations, but everything is done by hand.
Kitsch painter Luke Hillestad, based in Minneapolis, tackles age-old narratives and a primal aesthetic in his works. He partly learned his craft from legendary figurative painter Odd Nerdum, who famously forged a movement that combined the way of the Old Masters with storytelling and emotion. A former land surveyor and classically trained guitarist, there are tinges of other influences in Hellstad’s work.
Hollywood based artist Deirdre Sullivan-Beeman adds an enchanting, fairytale-like charm to her paintings made by a 14th century technique of oil paints and egg tempera. Her youthful images evoke the romance and luminosity of works by Old Master painters like Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, combined with elements taken from religion, legends, and glyphs or pictograms, used to tell her stories. Her primary subject is often a little girl, sometimes wearing a pinafore dress, depicted wandering in a nonsensical realm with talking flowers and white rabbits, recalling images from Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. The main source of Beeman's unique mythology, however, comes from her own personal experiences and what she writes down in a dream journal that she has kept over the years.
Influential Norwegian painter Odd Nerdrum began to paint figurative, Neo-Classical works inspired by the Renaissance in the late 1970s — a period when abstract, conceptual art was en vogue. Openly embracing kitsch, his early work was waged as a criticism against the contemporary art status quo as well as an homage to the old masters. Over the years, Nerdrum has been a mentor to many contemporary artists as narrative-based, figurative painting has risen in prominence once again. He and his three students, Luke Hillestad, David Molesky and Caleb Knodell, will be exhibiting together at Copro Gallery in Los Angeles for "Pupils of Apelles," opening on November 15.

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