any one who has endured several winters in Denmark, and then imagines oneself having to suffer through such a winter one hundred years back, living in poverty as many rural people did, it is not hard to imagine why someone could be as somber as our subject is, regardless of what it is that he might actually have encountered during his lifetime leading up to this moment. to me, when I first cast my eyes upon this painting, I thought, “ahh, the perfect winter painting.”
in all honesty, though, there is a truth seeking element in this painting that is also unusual for danish art – which draws me to this work.
the choice of subject soberly confronts the notion of death and dying, a topic that elicits extreme discomfort in Denmark, supported by the fact that most old people in this country die alone, either at home or in nursing homes (this I know, from research I once did for a feature film that I worked on)…
the positioning of the subject, off balanced in an almost empty space, is very typical of Scandinavian work, and it brings to mind both Carl Dreyer’s film work, and of course, Bergman, enhanced by the “wide screen” format of the image.
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