Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Images From a Nordic Drama (2022) Hot Docs 2022

This is the story of  art collector Haakon Mehren was directed to a barn filled with oversized canvases by a friend. He didn't want to have anything to do with it and instead suggested they go for a drink.  WHat happened was he got talked into going to the barn where he discovered the work of Aksel Waldemar Johannessen, a never was artist who liked to paint the down trodden and the suffering. Mehren was entranced and then began to try and get word out about this magnificent artist from the turn of the 20th century. the problem was no one in Norway wanted anything to do with the paintings. Over the years Mehren arranged shows of the work all over the world but despite the acclaim from other parts of the world the Norwegian art world wanted nothing to do with the work.

This magnificent film will not only open your eyes to the work of a great artist but tell you a cautionary tale of the art world. Why the  art world and museums refuse to do anything will Johannenssen's work is beyond me. I suspect that the reason has more to do with their insular nature- the discovery came from outside of their own folds, than having to do with any alleged lack of talent.  Honestly having had contact with the art world I'm surprised that we see any one with any real talent rise up since the whole art world is very cliqueish.

As the film makes clear the problem is not with the painting, but with a portion of the art world that refuses to see. The proof of this is the final image.

I really liked this film a great deal. In all honesty I'm glad I broke down and agreed to see it because I got to discover a new artist who knocked my socks off. Johannenssen's  work is awesome in the truest sense of the word. Many of his images had me talking to the screen, wondering when I will be able to see them in person.

Highly recommended, IMAGES FROM A NORDIC DRAMA plays Hot Docs one more time on May 5.

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