Friday, April 08, 2016

Arty Farty Friday ~ It's Odd (Nerdrum that is)

I could not possibly pass an opportunity to feature an artist with a name like Odd Nerdrum. He's known as a Norwegian artist, though born in Helsingborg, Sweden on this day, 8 April, in 1944.

I should not poke fun at his name, but it's tempting to do so, especially as it seems to fit him so well.

A piece about Nerdrum at Art Cyclopedia by Paul A.Cantor, The Importance of Being Odd: Nerdrum's Challenge to Modernism, tells that the artist is, temperamentally a rebel, whose childhood vicissitudes left a mark upon him. The full article is a good and enlightening read, by the way.
Nerdrum has openly acknowledged his debt to the Old Masters. He uses heavy layers of paint to create chiaroscuro effects reminiscent of Caravaggio and Rembrandt, and he also continually recalls the achievement of the great Italian and Dutch painters in his ability to capture the texture of things on canvas - from shiny metals to rich fabrics. Above all, he knows how to convey every shade of human flesh. And yet the subject matter of Nerdrum's works is usually enough to place him in the modern world. His dark palette seems to underwrite a disturbing vision of the end of civilization as we know it. For those who have not seen Nerdrum's paintings, I try to describe them this way: imagine the result if Rembrandt had painted the sets of The Road Warrior.

This video offers samples of his work:

Snip from a book "Essays on the End" (See here) - click on image for clearer view:

Nerdrum's paintings do not appeal to me, in much the same way that Mad Max the movie didn't appeal to me. Some of his subjects are seriously unpleasant; there's one titled Twilight which made me consider changing my long-time screen name! Perhaps the subjects of his paintings are a way of dispelling his own inner discomforts.

I noticed during Google searches that Mr Nerdrum is presently, or has recently been, in prison for tax evasion - see here. Ever the rebel!


A look at his natal chart, set for 12 noon as no time of birth is available.
Born on 8 April 1944 in Helsingborg, Sweden.

Rebel? I look for Uranus first. Semi-sextile Mercury on one side and Mars on t'other, also sextile Pluto and trine Neptune - so while Uranus isn't in an obviously prominent place (though it could be on Nerdrum's ascendant degree for all we know) it is linked in to several personal planets in both helpful and challenging ways.

Venus, planet of the arts, forms part of the T-square formed by Venus opposite Neptune, Venus square Saturn and Saturn square Neptune. His art style, harking back to the age of the Great Masters, could be seen as represented by Saturn, while the imaginative topics of his paintings are represented by Neptune's creativity. The darkness and/or eroticism in many of his paintings have to be reflected by Pluto links: Sun sextile Pluto could be the main culprit there.

Moon's natal position can't be known withouta precise time of birth, but would have been somewhere in Libra, possibly even in trine to rebellious Uranus in Gemini - that'd be a good fit!


JD said...

He is a painter but he is not an artist. And if he is trying to be a tax dodger that doesn't make him a rebel, it means he wants to joing the 'elite' i.e. those who say things like 'tax is for the little people' :)

When are you going to feature Bob Lenkiewicz?

underworlddiver said...

What an amazing talent, this Odd Nerdrum. His provocative art has strong Pluto (and, as you say, Saturn) influences. With Pluto-NN in Leo (self-expression) opposing Uranus-ruled SN in Aquarius and both square Mercury in Taurus (communicating through art), it's no wonder he's rebelled against accepted artistic 'norms' ~ whatever that means!

Also, Saturn in Gemini is at the midpoint of the square, providing focus, talent and the ability to make his artistic vision real. Very real.

mike said...

Venus and Neptune are final dispositors of all his planets and they are in mutual reception, and opposition (out of sign), with Venus exalted in Pisces.

"The devotion to art may be as great as the good aspects, but there will be difficulty in following this path, or there may be eccentricities of expression – nevertheless, the Inharmonious combinations are frequently found in the nativities of great artists."

"The 'enemy' that you often project 'out there' is hidden within yourself. Those Neptunian patterns of victim, sacrifice and martyr may emerge, either as experienced by you, or as expressed through you onto others, where you exploit any powers of sexual seduction that you possess for self-gratification."

I'm pleased that he found art as his outlet for this intense energy! A very positive use, rather than drugs, sex, or kink...but maybe those surfaced, too...LOL. His childhood is certainly consistent with the Venus-Neptune dispositors and opposition...abandonment, lies, disillusion by both parents.

Nerdrum considered his art to be kitsch and part of that movement, which seems critical to understand his style:
"Broch called kitsch 'the evil within the value-system of art'—that is, if true art is 'good', kitsch is "evil". While art was creative, Broch held that kitsch depended solely on plundering creative art by adopting formulas that seek to imitate it, limiting itself to conventions and demanding a totalitarianism of those recognizable conventions."

mike (again) said...

The last paragraph excerpted from

mike (again) said...

Much controversy surrounds his trials for tax evasion:

"In the fourth round of court proceedings against Nerdrum, which took place in May of 2014 and whose verdict came on June 16th, 2014, Nerdrum was sentenced to one year and eight months in prison. One year in actual prison. And eight months house arrest. It seems that the award winning evidence was ignored.

I communicated with Art Sociologist Dag Sohjell, who is reviewing the verdict, and he can find no evidence of tax evasion on Nerdrums part aside from two small checks that amount to around $2,000 total. Hardly cause for a prison sentence.

The verdict itself says that Nerdrum has paid all the taxes he should, but that the reason for him to create the infamous bank box in Austria was originally to hide money from taxation. Are we to believe that all income was taxed but yet the intention was to hide it? Why did Nerdrum pay the taxes then? Why did Nerdrum tell the court about the bank box if his intention was to hide it?

The testimony of Bernt Fischer, who handled the Austrian bank box, was ignored by the court. In that testimony he says that the money was held black, but, done so for the purpose of protection from the possible claims of customers. Much has been said, a book was even published, about some 35 unstable and damaged paintings which Nerdrum worked to replace in case of customer claims but this was also ignored by the court and not even mentioned in the verdict. This was the reason for the bank box in the first place. In 2002, the year the investigation began, Nerdrum’s five year contract with his gallery ended and it was seen that customer claims were no longer a threat. The money was paid out and taxed. Those are the facts taken from the verdict.

A fair question to ask then is why is Nerdrum being sentenced to prison if there is documented proof that he has paid his taxes?"

Twilight said...

JD ~ I shall promptly make myself another note to feature Bob Lenkiewicz - I probably lost the last one I seem to recall making. :-)

JD, underworlddiver and mike

Thank you all for your observations - all good stuff! I'm in the midst of frustrations in dealing with inability to access my e-mail account (have I been hacked?) and attendant long phone conversations etc etc etc., then have stuff to do, so am being brief today. :-)

Anonymous said...

Nerdrum's art will be celebrate long after his critics are forgotten.