The artist exiled from his home created a theatre of characters in his imagined world, armed, beaten, and alienated, caught in conflict, ritual, love and rest; the afflicted and exhausted; these abandoned self portraits of a bloodied Nerdrum, cast as criminal, then as a weary man whose companions are outcasts, mutilated and war-torn, abandoned to the stern, severely beautiful landscape. We find the dead and the dying here, the victims of the aftermath, a record of the conflict between survivors and their struggle against despair.

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“It’s the most controversial element in the history of mankind. It also implies love and spirituality. The spiritual implication comes from it’s use in organized religion. But if we look at gold outside this context, we can see why it has been used to inspire our spiritual senses, which for me is the way it reflects light.”

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My figures are still, icon-like, but often trapped within luxurious, decorative patterns. There are narratives of love, desire, disappointment, cautionary and celebratory going on here; it all depends literally on the viewer’s standpoint.

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To create in light and line, capture emotion as it whispers across a face, energy as it tightens then loosens a body… David Cooper received no formal training in this, but instead gained his technique and sensitive eye through the matter of clocking in hours with his camera. He shows his subjects, the dancers, his proofs, listens carefully to their feedback, and makes whatever adjustments are needed. It’s a simple give-and-take. Generous from both sides. One might even call it a dance.

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I was in France at the time and I met a young guy in my French class. And he was an ex-child soldier. I saw him as always really sad. You didn’t ever see a smile on his face. We’d go for coffee or a drink, and one day I just asked him, “Hey man, why don’t you ever smile?” And he just explained to me that his childhood was stolen from him. I told him that if I was a writer I would write something, but I am a painter. So I painted his portrait.

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Something happens when we get together to create. What could otherwise remain static begins to evolve organically. A co-mingling that forever alters the recipe. Chemicals react. There is a sense of something building, bubbling. The unpredictable. That which cannot entirely be controlled. Nor should it.

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