Category Archives: Personal News

The Masked Painter Returned

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Filed under Art, Exhibitions, Personal News

Just a quick note and a few photos:

I did not enter Den Frie’s Open Autumn Exhibition (Kunstnernes Efterårsudstilling) this year because my absolute biggest art challenge that I could have undertaken was rejected in the first round – my Otto Frello portrait. So when that happens, you know that this is not a place you wish to exhibit. They are looking for something else and I will not feed that to them. Instead I found out that the ground in front of Den Frie belonged to the council and not the gallery, so I booked that space from the council and proceeded to do a LIVE performance, or happening for a week from the opening day. It was liberating being able to question the status-quo and use the council’s space to question the art world’s censorship. It must be said that I was difficult to overlook and there was a fair amount of interest in what I was doing.

Here are some photos from the Happening.

 

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Left. A photo of me talking to some of the people who came to the opening. Right. A portrait of Danish art critic Peter Michael Hornung who reviewed last year’s exhibition and gave it only 3/6 hearts. He wasn’t impressed. This year’s exhibition was, in my opinion better, but I agree with Peter that there are probably a great many people who art part- or full-time artists who do not enter for this exhibition because of its censorship style. He also said that getting into this exhibition is not credited with a public breakthrough like it used to. These were the kind of quotes I used on my board.

 

 

 

 

 

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Left. The weather was misty, rainy, windy, but not freezing cold, which was the one thing I had worried about. I was very grateful for my tarpaulin! Every morning of the week. I had to go and check for a lake in the tarpaulin. Every day except one, I found one. Right. Last year, Torben Sangild, one of the censors came over to where I was painting and engaged with me. He wrote an article and gave about 200 words to my critique of the censorship method, trying to explain why it is done the way it is done. I liked him for it as he helped put a focus on the issue which helped open up a debate on-line.

 

 

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Left. Den Frie can be seen behind me with some of the visitors on the opening night. Right. Jan Falk Borup commented on Sangild’s article. He pretty much stated that the censorship method in general wasted a lot of people’s money because they were already disqualified because their work just didn’t fall into the category of what either the censor board or the gallery is looking for.

 

 

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Left. Just before they closed the doors I and a friend managed to sneak in through the doors to have a quick look round the gallery. We took a few snaps. Right. A quote from an art blogger who stated that Den Frie doesn’t really introduce us to anything new and hasn’t done that for a long time. In fact this year’s exhibition looked more like a retrospective exhibition from the last 30 years.

 

It was a brave move to seek permission and work on something of this scale just outside the gallery. Brass-necked even. But I believe in asking questions like this of the art establishment because I will not be the only painter who feels ostracized. And I also wanted to make a statement that just because you can paint portraits that look like they belong in the Golden Age, doesn’t mean you can to performance art and the likes. See you next year :)

In The Red Corner

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Filed under Personal News, Uncategorized

In the Red Corner

“An aspiring young artist (with mask) stood outside KE – the Artist’s Autumn Exhibition held at Den Frie 1) during the Opening and painted a picture. The Scottish/Danish multi-artist explains why.”

Hekla Hekla 2)

 

On the 11th September I remember back to last year when I submitted five biographical portraits to KE. Everything I submitted was rejected without the possibility of feedback. I greatly regretted that I had given my confidence and my precious money to a ‘blind’ jury panel. I was angry and deeply disappointed. In 2013-14, I spent over 200 hours painting the best and most challenging portrait I might ever paint. The portrait is of a previously rejected Danish artist, now very well known and with increasing respect from the art scene. The painting alludes to many of his quirky ideas and character traits carried down to the smallest detail, as also he did it. His mischief and stubbornness were caught in his gaze. The painting’s reverse was also used as a canvas, because it was in his spirit to do something like that. It’s the kind of portrait you cannot paint unless you have love, understanding and a great enthusiasm for the subject. I could not resist the temptation to try one last time; to enter KE on the basis of this work.

 

It is the 18th Sep – Scotland’s Referendum on independence, and I’m sitting in Edinburgh well aware that the whole world is watching us to see what the next hours will mean for Britain’s future. It is also the day I hear KE’s verdict on my work. I log on to their website with butterflies in my stomach. But that which meets my gaze is yet another sorry, faceless, hostile red dot! Not a single judge recognizes my work. I am curiously empty of real anger, because now that my back is against the wall I’m ready to fight my corner. I will not accept the outcome this year. My brain is churning with ideas on how I can turn the disappointment into a new and suitably creative response – and proof that traditional painters can of course handle a more spontaneous, modern expression if necessary.

 

Today, the 24th September a family member in Denmark refers me to an article journalist Nils Thorsen 3) has written, about rejection. It inspires me further to implement my idea. I will confront KE as anonymously as my own rejection was, and I therefore make a plaster mask.

 

Maskemaleren ProtestmaleriFrellokollage

Clockwise from top: Protest painter outside Den Frie, The Frelloist details, Painted letter done outside Den Frie.

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Protestaktion udenfor Den Frie/Protest Action outside Den Frie

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Filed under Art, Personal News

I det Røde Hjørne

“En ung håbefuld kunstner (med maske) stod udenfor til efterårsudstillingens1 fernisering og malede et billede. Her fortæller den skotsk/danske multikunstner hvorfor.”

Hekla Hekla2

 

Den 11. september husker jeg tilbage på forrige år, hvor jeg indsendte fem biografiske portrætter til KE. Alt hvad jeg indsendte blev afvist uden mulighed for tilbagemelding.
Jeg fortrød kraftigt, at jeg havde givet min tillid og mine dyrebare penge til et ‘blindt’ dommerpanel. Jeg var vred og dybt skuffet. I 2013-14 brugte jeg over 200 timer på at male det mest gennemførte og udfordrende portræt jeg måske nogensinde maler – et portræt af en tidligere afvist dansk kunstner, nu særdeles kendt og med stigende respekt fra kunstscenen. Maleriet hentyder til mange af hans spøjse ideer og karaktertræk, udført ned til den mindste detalje, som også han gjorde det. Skælmskheden og stædigheden skulle fanges i blikkets udtryk. Maleriets bagside blev også anvendt som lærred, fordi det var i hans ånd at gøre sådan noget. Det er sådan et portræt man ikke kan male med mindre man har kærlighed, forståelse og en stor begejstring for emnet. Jeg kunne ikke modstå fristelsen til at prøve en sidste gang at komme ind på KE på baggrund af det her værk.

 

Det er den 18. september, Skotlands afstemning om selvstædighed, og jeg sidder i Edinburgh velvidende at hele verdenen – og Bornholm – vender blikket mod os for at se hvad de næste timer vil betyde for Storbritanniens fremtid. Det er også i dag jeg hører dommen fra KE om mit værk. Jeg slår op på hjemmesiden med lidt sommerfugle i maven. Men det, der møder mit blik, er endnu en sølle, udtryksløs, fjendsk rød prik! Ikke en eneste dommer anerkender mit værk. Jeg er mærkelig nok tom for rigtig vrede, for jeg mærker en kampklarhed i mig, man kun får når man er trængt op i en krog, og jeg accepterer ikke udfaldet i år. Min hjerne knurrer med ideer til hvordan jeg kan omdanne skuffelsen til en ny og passende kreativ respons – og et bevis på at traditionelle malere sagtens kan klare et mere spontant, moderne udtryk hvis nødvendigt.

 

I dag, d. 24. september, henviser et familiemedlem i DK mig til en artikel journalist Nils Thorsen3 har skrevet, netop om afslag. Den inspirerer mig yderligere til at gennemføre min idé. Jeg vil gå KE i møde lige så ansigtsløst som min egen afvisning var, og laver derfor en gipsmaske. Jeg kaster en tanke til Peter Smeeth som malede “The Artist’s Fate” med dæmoner, der står om ham med hvide masker på, mens de udmagrer ham for alt hvad han indeholder. Mit eget vragede maleri laver jeg en kopi af med den hensigt at hænge det op udenfor KE på ferniseringsdagen.

 

MaskemalerenProtestmaleriFrellokollage

Medur fra toppen: Protestmaleren, Frelloist detaljer, Maleriet som blev malet udefor Den Frie.

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Emotion series 2

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Filed under Art, Personal News

After the Frelloist portrait it has been hard to get back into painting. Painting The Frelloist/Frelloisten drained me because it was like cracking a really, really hard code, or like spewing everything you are and have into one performanc,e or like fighting goliath. Nothing but your best will do. Regardless of the reception of the work, putting your all into something is going to take a while to replenish. The new inspiration didn’t necessarily come from the happiest place. But that is the great thing about art; it can turn difficult things into positives. This series of paintings are a release from the tight precision work of Frelloisten and has allowed for a more expressive approach to figure painting. My inspiration came from the people around me who are struggling with various issues. Suddenly I just had to process these emotions. I threw a piece of paper on the floor after an unsuccessful, uninspired bit of painting. I poured some of the turps I’d cleaned my paintbrushes in onto the paper, spread it around and started developing a face on the paper with my leftover paint. What emerged relayed some of the desperation and helplessness I feel in one of my friends – several of my friends in fact. Emotions was spilling out of me onto canvases laid on the floor. I was able to move the paint around on the oil saturated surface, tipping the canvas no occasion causing dribble effects. To not sink into a hole of helplessness, I have also painted a few pieces that reflect a more hopeful existence.

The Scream

The Scream

The Scream 2

The Scream 2

My Friend Joan Mitchell

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Filed under Personal News

Kathleen Joan Mitchell detail

Some of you will know that I struck up a strong friendship with one of the very elderly ladies at the care home I’ve been working at for nearly 2 years. I always saw this job as a form of social art. I wanted to value a group of people who have in effect been shut away. In a way it’s nobody’s fault, but the truth is still, there are magical stories behind the doors of these homes that would blow your mind. Joan Mitchell did not just have one of these stories, she was also still a vibrant, humour-filled character when I met her at a sprightly 102 years of age. That fact alone – that she was soooo old and still zimmering along without much need of assistance alone made her my hero.

 

Then came her humour. She made me laugh so much. I plugged into her to give me energy for the day. She was interested in other people’s stories and open about her own – her old flames, marrying her older cousin, her enjoyment of the high-life in Sumatra, Indonesia – until the missionaries told her that it was not right to have servants, until the 2nd world war broke out and she was incarcerated under the cruel Japanese. To think I was sitting in front of a woman with so much history and experience. A woman who could wake up after a nightmare of being stripped and beaten that just had to be connected to the prison camp she was in 70+ years ago. To know that this woman devised a way of sending a message to her husband by hiding the message on the elastic of a pair of trouser she was given permission to send him. The nearly severed elastic would go and he would need to repair it and find the message – which he did. This is who I was sitting in front of. A highly intelligent  woman who would have liked to have become a doctor. In stead she had to settle for becoming a pharmacist under her father’s training. This knowledge would come in handy during her 3 years in prison as she was able to make medicine from the herbs growing wild. There were so many things that made Joan special, but what I really fell for was her humour. After a bout of illness that knocked her out for a few days I walked her down the long corridor from the dining room to her living quarters. On the way she remarks “This corridor is just long enough, that by the time I get back to my room…” (I was expecting something about her being worn out, but I had to laugh when I heard the end of the sentence),” …by the time I get back to my room, my breeks are, just about to, you know, slip off! And at my tender age of 103…!” To hear words like this from a prim London lady like this is what made Joan exciting to be around. She was never too civilised! In fact, I did lead her down a corridor another day, when I heard her say from behind me in a posh London accent “Disaster!”.  I swivelled round to find her green knitted skirt lying around her ankles! Thankfully the petticoat kept things decent.

 

Joan Mitchell. Rest in peace my dear friend. I hope I’ll meet you again some day.

 

PS. I and a local school boy are planning to make a documentary film about Joan in the near future.