Pablo Picasso once said, “It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.” Local artist Nym Pedersen understood Picasso’s quest and long ago joined the master on the road to imaginative artistic expression. Of course, Pedersen does not literally paint like a child, but he has maintained that direct, unadulterated quality that so many artists lose after years of technical training. No, his forms are not perfectly modeled and his compositions are not flawlessly articulated, but Pedersen’s oil paint goes directly from the tube to the canvas. This lack of meditation results in work of resounding self-expression.
Influenced by pre-World War I German Expressionism, Pedersen shows us the absurd, the amusing, and the more sordid aspects of modern life. He does not make overt commentary on currents events, but they unconsciously seep into his eclectic collages. Sometimes the face of Andy Warhol converges with that of Sir Winston Churchill, sometimes his faces develop fierce teeth and stares, and other times the viewer cannot tell what is human or animal. In whatever form, an infectious emotive quality is ever-present.
Pedersen explains yet another influence, “Making paintings and sculpture is a great joy, and in our twisted times feels like a privilege too. I keep in mind the approach of many great jazz musicians when applied to visual art: paint what you feel. And keep it free,” he said.
Like the great jazz masters of the past, he transforms his own introspective journey into abstract works that are ethereal yet honest visual expressions. His art is original and universal, touching all who experience it, showing life at its most vulnerable, yet most powerful. He depicts that time before we are told what is beautiful, correct, proper, vulgar-when the playing field is leveled and no one hides who they are.
Pedersen’s new show, “Now and Then” opens with a wine reception from 5:30-7:30pm at the WriterHouse Gallery Friday May 3rd as a part of Charlottesville’s First Friday. The reception is free and open to the public.