Carl-Henning Pedersen’s paintings are expressive interpretations of a poetic, dreamlike world informed by his personal experiences and Nordic folklore. Flying Bird is from a series of works in which the artist depicts large birds dominating the picture plane. Pedersen equated the image of a bird with freedom, and it appears among even his earliest works. In the painting presented here, its head seems to be disproportionately large when compared to its body, which is only supported in flight by a tiny wing. This peculiar creature hovers over a nocturnal landscape that could be a series of hills, buildings, or perhaps another fantastical being. Yet, how could this be a night scene when the sun is shining from the upper-right corner? Such contradictory imaginings form the cornerstone of Pedersen’s whimsical visual iconography.
Label from Menagerie: Animals on View, March 11–June 4, 2017