Artist Denied Right to Paint in Prison

Artist Odd Nerdrum lost his appeal in Norwegian courts this week and, in a strange twist of fate, he will receive an even longer jail sentence than the one he was appealing. Nerdrum, who is convicted of tax evasion, now faces 34 months in prison.

Odd Nerdrum’s “Self Portrait as Criminal” (via

In a controversial interview with a Swedish TV station last November [posted above], Nerdrum has labeled himself the “first artpolitical prisoner in Europe,” and compares his plight to Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei.

The 68-year-old artist was convicted in a Norwegian appeals court for tax evasion on Wednesday, June 27. The case revolves around the status of a number of foregin bank accounts that the government claims were not accounted for and taxed properly.

As part of his sentence, according CNN iReport, Nerdrum “would not be allowed to paint in prison, as it would be considered a commercial activity.”

It’s difficult to understand the nature of the case but Nerdrum’s claims of being persecuted by the Norwegian state seem rather incredible to outside observers, who are not accustomed to hearing such claims against that Scandinavian country. Some may also be leery of Nerdrum’s claims considering the artist has been quoted as saying that the Norwegian state had been “out to get him” since he debuted as an artist.

There is a website, Free Odd Nerdrum, that contains more information about the artist and his battle with the Norwegian authories. The site includes his side of the tax accusations, along with figures and explanations.

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