Odd Nerdrum, Self - Portrait
On August 3, 2011 one of the greatest realist artists of our time Odd Nerdrum was much like Ai Weiwei of China convicted to two years in prison without the right to paint on a trumped up and highly politicized tax evasion charges.
AmericanArtist Magazine in its February/March issue runs an article The Nerdrum Affair by Allison Malafronte with contributions by great artists Nelson Shanks, Joakim Ericsson, Richard Thomas Scott, Daniel Graves, and Brandon Kralik describing events surrounding this shameful case. I was privileged to be part of this project and am deeply grateful to the the editorial board of American Artist for its support in this and for helping our voice to be heard. Yes, American and International Artists stand by their colleague and a great ARTIST, who belongs to the world much as he honors Norway!
Here are my thoughts on the issue.
I still remember an enormous impact Odd’s “Namegivers” had on me upon my arrival from the Soviet Union to the U.S. in the early 90s.
As I was consumed by figuring out the place for realist tradition within a modern society, his works were bright examples of the extraordinary possibilities this long neglected Art Form had offered in our time. They still are.
The recent shameful campaign of suppression by the government of Norway against this influential visionary, a cultural icon and one of my favorite true Masters amounts to nothing less than a government purging of intellectual independence.
I do not remember anything comparable to this travesty since the days of communist persecution of Joseph Brodsky or when communist party bosses were conducting similar campaigns against my Dad.
The unprecedented severity of sentence the Norwegian government rendered upon this great Artist is entirely disproportionate to any actions incriminated to him. For the country priding itself on liberal leniency and civilized fairness toward real and violent criminal offenders, Odd’s sentence amounts to nothing less than a capital punishment.
The glaring disconnect between the severity of punishment and incriminated actions, the questionable evidence and deeply flawed judicial process that would never stand the scrutiny of U.S. justice system - all smacks of Stalin’s infamous “show trials.”
When the leading governments of the world are collectively implicated in perpetration and cover up of the largest financial heist in the history of mankind; when through almost two decades they were enabling and now actively shielding from justice the gang of international banking criminals who deliberately impoverished nations and got away with it - for the Norwegian government to be throwing the full wrath of its fury for whatever financial infractions they accuse him of at the Artist and the international cultural treasure is shameful, unconscionable and despicable.
Odd Nerdrum’s case also brings to mind a social persecution and eventual imprisonment of Egon Schiele by the Austrian government on the trumped-up “pornography” charges.
Odd Nerdrum is another misunderstood artistic genius brutally victimized by the inhumane and immoral totalitarian bureaucracy permanently suspicious and threatened by the free spirit of an individual it is incapable of controlling.
Odd Nerdrum is a true ARTIST, and the true ARTISTS can never be silenced by the power.
Three Namegivers 1990, 226 x 207 cm
The Waterprotectors 1985, 153 x 183 cm