Study Visit: Nikolai Astrup

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Join OCA tutor Gerald Deslandes at the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London on the 2 April.

We will visit the work of painter and printmaker Nikolai Astrup which has many comparisons to his fellow Norwegian and contemporary; Munch. Both suffered from what Astrup called ‘nerves and bad moods’. Both often used deep perspectives and empty foregrounds that created a sense of the viewer’s separation from the subject-matter and which Munch’s critics have associated with the influence of early photographic images. Like Munch, Astrup sometimes alluded to Nordic myths and folk-tales, as in his portrayal of the troll-like shadows behind a mid-summer bonfire or his allusion to the Nokken, the white stallion that carries its victims to their death. Yet even in his seemingly deserted landscapes there is often the sense of an unseen presence.

The most obvious comparison to Munch lies in the artists’ use of an expressionist brushwork and drawing style to portray the remoteness of the Scandinavian landscape in the off-beat colours of the midnight sun.

Astrup’s experiments with printmaking and his tendency to create more than one image of the same subject in his work suggest parallels with Munch. Yet his use of wood-block engraving recalls not just the fashion for Japanese prints but the self-consciously primitive approach of artists such as Gauguin and the Die Brucke group. Here Astrup’s exploitation of the horizontal grain of the wood-blocks and of the accidental imperfections on their surface lends a deliberately mechanical quality to the works, which further distances the viewer from the subject matter.

Please note there is a £10 booking fee for this exhibition, this will need to be paid by 31 March when tickets will be purchased. Please contact the student services team to book your place 0800 731 2116.

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