Black Fur, oil on canvas, 29 1/2×25 1/2 inches
An exhibition of 13 recent paintings by world-renowned artist Odd Nerdrum will be on view at Forum Gallery from March 8 through May 5, 2012.
The iconoclastic Norwegian painter is well known for compelling portraits, stark landscapes, and apocalyptic narratives that depict unearthly scenes. Influenced by Rembrandt and Caravaggio, Nerdrum is admired internationally for his unequalled skill and technique, as well as his extraordinary subject matter, which transports the viewer to another time and place.
In his new body of work made in the last four years, Nerdrum continues his exploration of the universal human condition revealing danger, misery, struggle, fear, helplessness, and yet, at times, optimism, as his figures all possess a fierce integrity in the face of adversity. In You See We Are Blind, three women are seated in a primeval world, holding sticks to help guide them, perhaps as they await an unlikely rescue. Two of the women are in conversation, while the third is deep in thought, the downturned corners of her mouth revealing a painful sadness. In Stranded, the vulnerable mother and child, sleeping in a vast desert-like wasteland, are bathed in a golden light offering protection from the wilderness. In another painting, Night Jumper, four figures sleep around a fire in an inhospitable world, while one appears above them, magically suspended in the air, as if the fire has propelled the jumper upward.
Nerdrum has said that the figures in his work represent, “modern man having returned to primeval society in his flight from civilization. He no longer has any roots in our time. He is back in a prehistoric existence.”
In his 2001 book on Odd Nerdrum, Richard Vine writes, “The anxious dialectic between self and world, self and group, will go on, Nerdrum’s images attest, for as long as the human race persists. The sea, that enduring metaphor for eternity and the fathomless unconscious, laps at many of his scenes. ... Thus on the liminal shore between land and sea, time and eternity, consciousness and unconsciousness, the wanderers pause to confront the realm from which all life emerged. … The implicit sexuality of their quest, made manifest in those pictures where the actors are pregnant, highlights the aloneness one can feel even in the most passionate encounters, even at the climactic moment of putative fusion.”
Odd Nerdrum lives and works in Maisons-Laffitte, France, near Paris. He was born in 1944 to Norwegian parents who were working in Sweden as Resistance fighters during World War II. The family moved back to Norway after the war. Nerdrum studied classical painting at the Art Academy of Oslo and later, with Joseph Beuys at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. As Nerdrum’s work has become known internationally, he has inspired, at times, what has been described as a devotion bordering on worship among his students. A painting by Odd Nerdrum influenced a scene in the 2000 science fiction film The Cell. A traveling retrospective was organized by Oslo’s Astrup Fearnley Museum in 1998. Work by Nerdrum can be found in major public collections including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and the National Gallery, Oslo.
The Forum Gallery exhibition is presented in cooperation with The Nerdrum Institute.