Julius Nord had only just turned twenty-three when Galleri Final named him as their 2015 Debutant of the Year, although in truth you couldn’t really call him a debutant. Even back then, he displayed an astonishing maturity as an artist having debuted – yes, for real – with a solo exhibition in his home town at the age of only eighteen.
Julius’s roots lie in the postmodern generation. Although he was, from an early age, aware of his artistic gifts and knew what he wanted to do with his life, he chose not to throw himself into the unknown waters of wild experimentation. He was nevertheless drawn to the quickness of expression required by graffiti artists (a genre not entirely alien to him) but chose a more measured, correct approach as a starting point for testing out his own strengths as part of a long-term perspective.
His influences being relatively close at hand, Julius is firmly rooted in the figurative tradition of the 20th century. Whilst occasionally seeking inspiration for his motifs from the antique collection at Ny Carlsbergs Glyptotek in Copenhagen, he interprets these in a manner initially developed in the 1950s. This was a decade associated with the emerging pop art movement which gained its visual force from allowing line, colour and space to interact and, in doing so, elevate seemingly trivial objects – techniques which Nord has also mastered and, indeed, updated, for instance by allowing himself to be inspired by graffiti. With great clarity and sensitivity for the power of expression inherent in various painting techniques, he combines the graffiti artist’s spray can with the brushes and acrylic paints of the studio artist.
By juxtaposing entirely monochrome spray-painted areas with the more nuanced colour scheme employed in his depictions of brick, boarded or concrete walls and of people and everyday items such as striped bed sheets, shower curtains, dogs, flower pots, handbags and electric cables – to name but a few – he invests his paintings with an immediacy and accessibility which feels both fresh and personal. This impression is further reinforced by the rivulets of colour which occasionally trickle into view. When discussing artists who have inspired him, Julius mentions, among others, Francis Bacon and Cy Twombly, this being reflected in his use of disciplined lines, shapes and distinct areas alongside spontaneous, non-figurative scrawl leaving drips of paint on the canvas. For Julius Nord the figure painter, these drips came to work as a form of ‘Open Sesame!’ by breaking through rigid lines and creating an illusion of movement which, though only slight, is nevertheless so crucial.
In Julius's later work, David Hockney emerges as a new source of inspiration. In the form of the iconic British painter, Julius has found his alter ego. Hockney, with his roots in street art, graffiti and superrealism, developed a minimalist dialogue between colour and shape, lines and space, which culminated in his Los Angeles paintings. Although this is an artistic language with which Julius is already very much at home, he aims to immerse himself in it and add new elements which draw on his own particular desires and experience. A challenge indeed – and although we cannot know the future, the path ahead seems fairly straight.