IMAGES OF A NORDIC DRAMA
DIRECTOR NILS GAUP
HOW DID YOU DECIDE TO MAKE THE FILM?
I visited an Edvard Munch art exhibition in a museum in Vienna in 2009. There I discovered some
paintings by an unknown Norwegian artist – Aksel Waldemar Johannesen. I had never heard of this
painter and got very curious. The museum put me in touch with the owner of the paintings, Haakon
Mehren. He told me the amazing story about the discovery of the paintings, the rejection of the artist
in Norway and about his long struggle with the Norwegian art elite. The real story was unbelievable,
and I decided that I had to make a film about it.
WHERE DID THE TITLE COME FROM?
The title of the film came from the title used for a key exhibition of Aksel Waldemar Johannessen's
paintings, so it connects the artist to the film. In Norwegian, drama is also a word used to describe
a fight or a big conflict. So, the title is clearly apt for the story.
HOW LONG DID IT TAKE TO MAKE THE FILM?
Five years, from 2016 to 2021.
WHAT WAS THE REACTION OF THE ART COMMUNITY IN NORWAY
WHEN YOU DECIDED TO MAKE THE FILM?
When I started interacting with people and mentioned that I wanted to make a documentary, friendly
people warned me. They said things like, “You shouldn’t interfere with that” and “put your hand in a
wasp’s nest.” That made me even more curious of course.