Gerhard Nordström

The Power and the Glory - the violence, the money

28 feb – 30 mar 2014

Kunsthal Charlottenborg is proud to present the solo exhibition Magten og æren – volden, pengene (The Power and the Glory – the violence, the money by Swedish artist Gerhard Nordström (b. 1925). Gerhard Nordström is best known for his overt opposition against the abuse of power and against pollution, messages that he conveys in his art by depicting social injustice and the consequences of consumer society.

The director of Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Jacob Fabricius, says: ”I have always been deeply fascinated by Gerhard Nordström’s imagery and universe. Particularly by his ability to use images to evoke and pin down an atmosphere that is by turns chilling, wise, and enthralling. There are few politically active painters in the Nordic countries today, and I believe that it is important to remember the potential of painting – it is a crucial part of the history of art.”

From the early 1960s onwards Gerhard Nordström has insisted on using oils to create his political artworks. In spite of this so-called classic method his works have a distinctively contemporary quality, offering razor-sharp political and social commentary. In an era of rapid political and social change, of information maelstroms and mass-media image overload, these artworks – these frozen moments – still manage to imprint themselves on our retinas, constantly reminding us of the consequences of greed and power.

The exhibition will encompass paintings and sculpture; the main lynchpins are the series Banco di Santo Spirito (1984) and De Antimilitäriska Planscherna (“The Anti-Militarist Wall Charts”) (1960-1969).

The series of antimilitarist wall charts mix politics with satire in an almost cartoon-like painterly style, pointing to the absurdity of the means and ends of warfare with their combinations of images and texts. In a similar move, the painted portraits of religious figures from the installation Banco di Santo Spirito represent marked contrasts to the glorifying papal portraits typical of art history.

These explicitly political paintings may seem far removed from Nordström’s rather more subtle empty landscapes from the 1970s and 1980s. However, the sheer emptiness of these landscapes reveals the consequences of pollution, testifying to the consequences of man’s presence in the world. Yet another example of how everything is political – and hence important – in Nordström’s universe.