Pushwagner: Art is life intensely experienced

Today I watched the documentary about Pushwagner (whose real name is Terje Brofos), a famous contemporary Norwegian pop artist whose life is no less interesting or exotic than his art. I first learned about him from one of my students, Ms. Jannicke Velsvik (thanks!), and I’m a big fan ever since.

At a point in his life, all seemed lost for Pushwagner: he was a homeless drug addict who had lost all the artworks that he ever created since he was twelve to his agent, having desperately signed a contract transferring the ownership rights to his agent in order to drop some debts (we’re speaking about some 2,000 artworks). Then something happened: twelve years later, he won a long court battle for the rights to his artworks, and that marked the resurrection of Pushwagner, who know owns a gallery in Oslo, and features in documentaries that celebrate his life and talent. True art, it seems, is sometimes about life intensely experienced.

His art, like his life, is eccentric. It presents a vivid, colorful (and at times monochrome) satire of our consumerism, of capitalism, of modernity and of the futility of our lifestyle. It comes as no surprise that his artist name itself is a sarcastic mix of push + wagon (the shopping cart in a supermarket!).

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