Hot Docs Review: Images of a Nordic Drama (Nils Gaup, 2021)

Photo Credit: Paranord Film

As the old cliched saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and that phrase was certainly going through my mind while watching Images of a Nordic Drama.

In telling the story of Norwegian art collector Haakon Mehren and his quest to garner some recognition for relatively unknown artist Aksel Waldemar Johannessen, Images of a Nordic Drama examines the idea of what’s considered ‘real’ art, what gets allowed into the established canon and all of the issues that might arise when one dares to go against the art establishment.

After finding a cache of Johannessen’s long forgotten art in a barn, Mehren makes it his life’s mission to become Johannessen’s champion, constantly pushing for this art which he sees as a unique portrayal of the common people of the time. And while many come to agree with him on this, the elites of the Norwegian art scene, including those in charge of the National Museum, instead see Johannessen’s work as awful and unworthy, with some even suggesting the only thing it’s fit for is the rubbish bin.

While it seems unlikely that Johannessen’s detractors will ever change their opinions on him, the film makes it abundantly clear that Mehren’s life has been forever changed by his association with these paintings. And that, in itself, is a testament to the power of art to affect people, even if some can only see it as trash.

Sat, Apr. 30, 11;30 AM @ Varsity Cinema 8
Thurs, May 5, 8:45 PM @ Varsity Cinema 8

Posted on by Paul in Hot Docs