Booth Gallery is proud to announce the opening of Crime & Refuge, the first U.S. solo show since 2012 by Scandinavian-born, European-based kitsch painter Odd Nerdrum, on view at 325 W 38th Street from April 30 – July 3rd, 2016. The sixteen paintings have never been exhibited before in America, and many of the paintings account for Nerdrum’s newest work and will make their debut at Booth Gallery. The exhibition shares its name with Nerdrum’s 455-paged monograph, published in 2013, and is without a doubt a telling choice. The work embodies Nerdrum’s vision of human experience in the form of love, solitude, and struggle set in the dusty atmosphere of bleak Martian-like landscapes. Humanistic narratives seep through the canvases and illicit visceral responses – especially in such works as “Dustlickers” and “Cannibals,” which challenge the viewer not to look away.
Internationally renowned as one of the greatest figurative painters, and arguably our greatest living master, Nerdrum brings to Booth Gallery his most recent body of work, inviting fans and gallery visitors to catch up to speed with his current stylistic tendencies and philosophical concerns. In great homage to Apelles, the Ancient Greek master (of whom only written descriptions survive) Nerdrum has named his very limited palette of white, black, yellow and red - the “Apelles Palette.” He is fascinated by the incredible depth and volume the palette creates. Nerdrum’s heavy use of thick underpainting, and multiple applications of all-over glazes, makes his work technically approach the late work of both Titian and Rembrandt. However, unlike these old-masters, Nerdrum’s narratives are not illustrations of Ovid or the Bible but are his own brand of Operatic Drama that comes much closer to a sci-fi thriller. In the last several years, perhaps Nerdrum’s own life experiences have led him to consider archetypal themes of judgment and exile as powerful motifs to explore as Shakespearean drama on canvas.
Born in Sweden as a second world war refugee in April 1944, Nerdrum has established himself in the pantheon of great figurative painters. With laser focus Nerdrum set himself upon the singular goal of painting as well as Rembrandt when he was only 14 years old. Nerdrum studied briefly at the Dusseldorf Academy with the German artist Joseph Bueys who may have influenced Nerdrum’s brand of myth-making. Nerdrum is also an influential teacher and mentor; since 18 years old, Nerdrum has educated a constant flow of apprentices and now runs the Nerdrum School, a European-based tuition-free apprenticeship program. Nerdrum is also an author of many books, including a collection of short stories, and two books on his kitsch philosophy, entitled On Kitsch (2001) and Kitsch More than Art (2011). Nerdrum’s work is held in several public collections worldwide including in the United States: the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, New York, New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA), New Orleans, Louisiana, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD), San Diego, California, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Cleveland Center for Contemporary Art, Cleveland, Ohio and in Norway, The Astrup Fearnley Museum of Art, Oslo and in Sweden, The Gothenburg Museum of Art.