This past week Nerdrum Pictures released a series of videos that aim to change the course of the cultural ocean liner. The internet has allowed those painters who strive toward masterpieces in a grand and classical sense, it has afforded talented and isolated individuals to contact each other, gather and combine forces. The internet has helped in the rebirth of a classical sensibility within our culture and video is playing a key role. These videos allow you to participate in changing the direction of our ship.
Introduction to TRAC2014 (The Representational Art Conference), courtesy of Nerdrum Pictures
Now that we are truly free to choose our own programing, we have an obligation to ourselves to do just that. Of course there will be those who want nothing to do with beautiful art, the sensual flesh, the longing gaze of a human being filled with dignity, faced with their own mortality. For the rest of us, For those of us who want to understand why the work we like most is not in the museums, who wish to really understand this invention we call Art, then you will want to take the time to watch the presentations, and digest what is being earnestly put forth. Listen to the stories being told.
The beauty of video is that it gives us a longer look than when we heard the actual speaker's presentation live. To be able to go back, listen carefully, and pause when we need to write down a thought or dwell a little longer on an idea, is of great benefit, if we choose to use it. Even having been at TRAC2014 myself, I find that the way these films were put together to focus in on, and enhance the important messages that are delivered here, help add to my understanding of why this is so important.
Contemporary Representational Aesthetics Panelists: Roger Scruton & Odd Nerdrum with Moderator Michael Pearce at TRAC2014. Courtesy of Nerdrum Pictures.
Nerdrum Pictures has been documenting the ideas of Norwegian figurative painter Odd Nerdrum through a series of short films as well as documenting travels and rare appearances of this reclusive, yet influential thinker. In addition to his many hundred of masterfully executed paintings, Nerdrum has written several insightful books and a series of plays to help illustrate his ideas. His idea is that Art, or Fine Art, as we know it, is fundamentally, philosophically, different than the kind of painting that comes from his brush and the brushes of the Nerdrum School.
Different than what most representational painters are doing at all for that matter, artists who do not go back far enough to understand what is really meant by Fine Art. Artists who do not read philosophy. In opposition to Art ideologies, he refers to the contemporary paintings that are done in a timeless fashion, without irony, and done with a highly developed level of skill to be Kitsch. Kitsch in the best sense of that word, in a positive sense, so don't get stuck on the negative aspects of it, we are talking about something different now. It is not what Roger Scruton talked about, how he spoke of kitsch in his keynote address, Faking It.
Keynote speaker Roger Scruton, introduction by Michael Pearce, courtesy of California Lutheran University and Nerdrum Pictures.
Trying to pin a name on this movement, this drift toward classically constructed painting is like talking about God. While there are many names, we are talking about the same thing ultimately. In this case, about the paintings that we love immediately, emotionally, and honestly. They don't need to be explained to us. They appeal to our humanity.
This relatively new Kitsch idea, the re-appropriation of the word and its redefinition is well explained by Jan-Ove Tuv in his presentation, Kitsch as a Superstructure for Representational Narrative Painting, and in the panel discussion about 21st Century Aesthetics, which he participated in with Julio Reyes, Stephen Hicks, Alan Lawson, William Havlicek and which was moderated by Peter Trippi, editor of Fine Art Connoisseur.
The Aesthetics of 21st Century - Panel Discussion at TRAC2014, courtesy of Nerdrum Pictures
Tuv states that, "We are not talking about the dichotomy between Abstract and representational painting but rather that of the passionate and the disinterested perspective."
Kitsch as a Superstructure for Representational Narrative Painting by Jan-Ove Tuv, Nerdrum Pictures
Peter Trippi also gave an excellent presentation of his own which talks about the great work being made today and who is buying it. Most of you know that Peter Trippi is the editor of Fine Art Connoisseur and after talking with him, I certainly regard him as an expert in the field of representational painting, and in Art in general. Trippi does not feel that words like Beauty and Kitsch are enough, that we need to put our thinking caps on and take advantage of the situation, that we as painters need to pull together and show the work.
Peter Trippi, Editor of Fine Art Connoisseur Magazine, at TRAC2014, courtesy Nerdrum Pictures
The subject of the panel discussion between Nerdrum and philosopher Roger Scruton was not so much focused on semantics, but rather on ideas. Here, we are offered solutions to the cultural dilemma we face of bringing classical training back into the Art departments of our universities, both philosophically and pragmatically.
As I have said in a previous blog about TRAC2014, The Authentic Perspective, there is a need in our society and it is being filled. It is wise to pay attention. We have longed for something to happen that is interesting in painting, be sure not to miss it now that it is happening.
Odd Nerdrum and the New Baroque, by Brandon Kralik's presentation at TRAC2014
My presentation focused on Nerdrum's influence on American painting and my personal experiences of how I met and came to know Odd Nerdrum and his family. We are witness to a New Baroque in American painting, even on a larger scale than that, we are talking about painters and ideas that are are having a profound effect on the art that is being produced today. We are talking about a cultural revolution. Work that we can relate to. In fact, as TRAC co-founder Michael Pearce says, "These people are changing the direction of our cultural ocean liner, slowly but surely!" No small achievement.
For those of you who are interested in this absolutely fascinating subject, there are a couple more videos from TRAC2014 put out by California Lutheran University who sponsors the annual event.
An incredible amount of progress is being made. Keynote speaker Juliette Aristides is at the forefront of the Atelier Movement, runs the Aristides Atelier at the Gage Academy of Fine Art in Seattle, and is focused on educating not only students, but the educators, who are being faced with having to teach techniques that they have not learned to a growing number of artists interested in classical approaches to painting.
Kara Ross, of the Art Renewal Center, a wealth of information, in her panel presentation, resounded a positive note with regards to where we are and where we are going. There are now over 70 approved schools teaching classical technique in their list, as opposed to 14 when they started. She asserted the importance of working together as a unified force, to support the painters, for the artists to support each other, so that we may come to a more graceful way of interacting with each other and the world we live in.
The internet has allowed us to do just that and it also allows you to be a part of it, either directly or vicariously. Take the time to watch the videos, spend time with them, and listen to what these philosophers, artists, educators and writers have to say about the possibility of better times.
All 7 of the videos can be seen on Odd Nerdrum's Youtube channel and will help clue you in on the new golden age of painting.
The change is now.