Bård Brodersen

Bård Brodersen Retrospective - Colorist in the field of action between construction and chaos
May 20 - September 25, 2005

Bård Brodersen (1927 - 2001) is today one of the most important painters Drammen has fostered, and one of the few who in his own time achieved a national recognition. Brodersen stood in the 1950s-60s together with a relatively small group of painters for the breakthrough of a modernist abstract painting in Norway. It was an artistic expression that in its time was seen as radical and rabid. Today, this seems incomprehensible when you look at the pictures against contemporary contemporary art. It tells us that the form of art Brodersen represents is no longer our contemporary expression, but represents a limited chapter of art history. The exhibition in Drammens Museum facilitates that Brodersen can have his chapter in this story.

In Brodersen's generation, there was a widespread notion that art was associated with beauty, imagination and joy. The medium he has at his disposal to convey this through is the painting and the tools associated with this medium; color, fabric and "surface", ie the two dimensions of the image. "Painting must have its own life, just like a flower, a beautiful girl is a living beauty, the painting must and must be in shape and color", the young Brodersen wrote in the spring of 1948.

Bård Brodersen belonged to a generation of painters who also had a clear idea that the concepts of art and quality were inextricably linked. The qualities related to the works as a material object and its design both in terms of craftsmanship and form. Quality in this context meant that the choice of materials and workmanship were in proportion to the aesthetic goals of the artist. For Brodersen's part, it was expressed in that he experimented throughout his life with the technical means to achieve the desired visual effects. Brodersen's pictures often have a distinctive material expression as a result of the choice of antifouling from the choice of material to paint on, binders and pigments to how he applied the dye. The images often have a dry surface that reinforces an impression of the images as an expression of something fragile, almost porous, which is in a state of constant change. Although Brodersen was concerned with the possibilities of expression that lay in the processing of the materials, he was to the highest degree an artist who works on the basis of visual experiences of concrete motifs. Based on this set, he developed a design language where we can read a tension between figuration and abstraction throughout the production.

After a study stay in Paris in 1950, he began working abstractly and made his debut at the Autumn Exhibition with a painting in which he combines a clear disposition of the image surface in large abstract fields, with a simplified representation of figures. This became a common feature of Brodersen until the 1960s when he for a short period simplified the motifs of geometric fields, before he developed the organic design language which became his distinctive and most important contribution. The shape language is characterized by the shapes being formed by color fields that spread out over the canvas in undulating movements of expansion and contraction. They collide with other fields of varying extent and tensions arise between the fields. Within each of the fields, he nuances the color. The images are often dominated by a main color, usually blue or red. The individual field can also be punctured by a hole in the color, where we glimpse an underlying plane often dominated by a contrasting color. The compositions in these pictures are often based on an emphasis on diagonals, which helps to create a feeling of dynamism and excitement.

Within Norwegian abstract painting, which is dominated by an abstraction in which the geometric skeleton usually appears very clearly, Brodersen's free colorism is a distinctive element. Gradually, Brodersen makes the individual coat appear clearer and the images go from the earlier phase dominated by the search for harmony and balance, to a more exciting use of color and into a form of abstract expressionism. Brodersen's abstractions have been associated with landscapes. The pictures have been associated with both flower meadows and clouds of colors. Brodersen himself often associated the term "color music" with the images, probably because the music was considered to be the most abstract of the art forms.

It is important to emphasize that for Brodersen, as for his entire generation, the illustrative was an insult. Art should not illustrate. The ideal was unity between form and content. The image emerged as an overall symbolic visualization of life experiences and emotions that were of an intersubjective nature and could be read spontaneously and intuitively. The work of art was not a private matter that told anything about the artist to a viewer, but a common matter that made the viewer reflect based on the encounter with the work of art. The work of art is thus not for entertainment but reflection and immersion in how we sense, experience and give form and concepts to existence. Giving art an almost exalted role in life can also be understood as part of Brodersen's generational affiliation where the existential questions were put in focus.

A significant part of Brodersen's production consisted of figurative images. In his later years, he painted pictures with motifs from Drammen that achieved great popularity. He has also painted from travels in Spain and Portugal, from Holmsbu and Tvedestrand. Although it is easy to recognize specific places in the pictures, it is also striking how he transforms the observed motif into a play of patterns, shapes and colors akin to what we find in his abstract paintings. Throughout his work, he painted natural studies alongside the abstract images, and for him there was no abysmal gap between the two groups of works. They were in an inner dialectical relationship, where he sought inspiration for one in the other. He often exhibited abstract and figurative images in the same exhibition.

Øivind Storm Bjerke

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