Per Kirkeby (b.1938 – d.2018) is considered one of the most renowned artists of his generation, his skills as a painter, sculptor, filmmaker, and author making for a body of strong and unique works. His work has been shown at exhibitions worldwide including at prominent institutions such as Kunsthalle Bern, Whitechapel Gallery and Tate in London, MoMA in New York, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk and Centre Pompidou in Paris. In 1976 he represented Denmark in the Venice Biennale. Moreover, Kirkeby taught as a professor at the Art Academy in Karlsruhe and at Frankfurter Städelschule.
Weaving The Light | Artist Kimsooja 김수자
Follow South Korean artist Kimsooja into an underground water reservoir where she “weaves with light” while tapping into East Asian philosophy “reflecting our selves, our fortune, and our universe.”
The world of textiles rooted in the handicraft of Korean tradition is at the centre of Kimsooja’s work. When given the possibility of making an installation in a huge underground water cistern full of darkness, she “immediately thought of doing a light project”, she explains, calling it a “light laboratory”.
“As I have been doing many projects in relation to sewing and weaving or wrapping, all related to textiles in a way, those questions have been reached to the point that I call my project with the light ‘Weaving the Light’.”
For Kimsooja, weaving has a profound meaning related to human existence: “Weaving is in a way breathing, it is living in a way because we don’t stop when we weave as if we breathe. Weaving is constant action, constant evolvement, and constant answer and interaction”.
The rays of light dividing into colours have a special meaning in Korean: “For Westerners, you say rainbow colours but equally, we have a word in Korean called ‘obangsek’.
“‘O’ means five, ‘bang’ means directionality and ‘sek’ means colour in Korean. So Obangsek means five directional colours “, and the colours represent South, North, East, West, and white as the centre.
When using these five colours, Kimsooja reflects water, fire, earth, and air, but also different tastes like sour, bitter, sweet, and the seasons. All in Korean related to Confucianism and Taoism and some part from Buddhism: “East Asian philosophy, that consists of our selves, our fortune, and our universe. That is why I have always been using this colour pattern, not because I particularly like the colours itself, but because of the idea and the concept of it,” she says.
Kimsooja’s woven light patterns embrace the idea of the other: “It always indicates the other, because, without the other, we cannot weave. I think it is the nature of life.”
Kimsooja (born 1957 in Daegu, South Korea) is a South Korean, multi-disciplinary conceptual artist based in New York, Paris, and Seoul. Her practice combines performance, film, photo, and site-specific installation using textile, light, and sound. Kimsooja's work investigates questions concerning the conditions of humanity, while engaging issues of aesthetics, culture, politics, and the environment. Kimsooja’s work has been shown at major institutions over the world, including MoMA PS1 in 2001, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in 2015. She represented Korea for the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013. She participated in documenta 14, in Kassel, the ANTIDORON – The EMST Collection in 2017, and has taken part in international biennials and triennials in Busan, Venice Gwangju, Moscow, Istanbul, and Manifesta 1, 1996, among others.
"First, we will die. Then we will be forgotten." | Photographer Balder Olrik
What does a graveyard tell about life? Meet Danish artist Balder Olrik who has been walking around Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris for months, taking fascinating pictures of empty mausoleums.
“I looked into one of the mausoleums, and it hit me really hard in the stomach. There was a huge bouquet of flowers made of silk with hundreds of spiderwebs on top of it. It was really painful. At this moment, I realized that we are going to be forgotten.”
Olrik has recently been confronted with death in his personal life and took to Paris to recover from severe illness. By chance, he visited Père Lachaise and found – in the middle of vibrant Paris – a silent world of its own.
“It’s obvious that somebody has loved somebody. The most touching mausoleums are the ones where you actually can see that there was love between some people – someone who is dead, somebody that’s alive. But at a certain point, it is left there. Maybe because the person who loved died. Or fell in love with somebody else.”
“It made me realize that maybe I should just do the things I want to do in life. And maybe it is also an awkward worry – this worry of not being eternal. Why is it so hard for us to grasp the fact that we don’t live forever, that it has an end? Maybe it is causing us a lot of trouble while we live that we care so much about ourselves for when we are not alive.”
Danish artist Balder Olrik (b. 1966) entered The Royal Academy of Art in Copenhagen at age 16, one of the youngest artists ever to attend. Shortly after entering the academy, he was included in numerous exhibitions at museums and galleries worldwide, gaining international recognition for his works. In 1998, Olrik left the art world and became an early pioneer in new media technology, launching a successful viral media company. Sixteen years later, he returned to art, focusing on photography primarily inspired by behavioural and perceptual science. Olrik expresses a distinct silence and solitude within his art, a theme prevalent throughout his early works to the present. He lives and works in Paris and Copenhagen.
Balder Olrik was interviewed by Marc-Christoph Wagner at Cimetière du Père-Lachaise in Paris in October 2022.
The Definition of Good Design | Designer Naoto Fukasawa 深澤直人
”To take the relation between people and things or the environment and shed light on it to find suitable and optimal solutions is my job.” Japanese design pioneer, Naoto Fukasawa, shares his work process, philosophies, and thoughts on good and bad design.
Of course, Naoto Fukasawa drew as a child. But growing up with a father who was an electrician, he was also constantly surrounded by different tools that opened a world to create that went beyond drawings. When the time came to choose what to study, Fukasawa decided to become a product designer. “The first ten to fifteen years, I thought that the making of good forms or beautiful forms was my job,” he explains. “I was told that designs differ according to peoples’ taste. I don’t think so,” Fukasawa says and elaborates: “Instead of asking the opinion or sense of people, it’s better to be quiet and observe. I am sure that there are things that all people will like. I don’t know if you could call it universal. But I deliberately use this intuition and try to give it a form. To keep quiet and try to show is the essence of design.”
Known for his minimalistic aesthetics, Fukasawa has designed products for several respected companies, including the iconic Japanese lifestyle store, MUJI. When talking about simplicity in design Naoto Fukasawa says: “Simple is not just a question of form, but also of harmony.” To him, the best-designed products needn’t necessarily be noticeable: “They just have to be there when you need them, without causing trouble. They show their love best by being quiet.” To achieve this in his design, Fukasawa uses the same method: “To observe people, their surroundings, space, and things have become a natural habit of mine.”
“If a designer thinks about structure together with an engineer, it’s actually easier to do this ‘design thinking’.” An essential part of Naoto Fukasawa’s design process lies within his collaboration with skilled craftsmen and engineers: “As an industrial designer, the knowledge of the whole industrial production process from design to the factory is very important,” he says and continues: “Design is to have the power to feel and understand what everybody will like. And make sure this is understood by the craftsmen or the engineers. It’s not just something you should feel. The designer should also know precisely how to realize it.”
Naoto Fukasawa (b. 1956) is a Japanese industrial designer, author, and educator, working in product and furniture design. He is known for his product design work with the Japanese retail company MUJI, as well as work with and for companies such as Herman Miller, Alessi, B&B Italia, Magis, and HAY. In 2003 Naoto Fuksawa started working independently after several years for Seiko Epson and IDEO San Francisco. His designs span a variety of fields, from precision electronic equipment to furniture, interior spaces, and architecture. Fukasawa determined that the impetus for design is found in people’s unconscious behavior and named this “Without Thought.” Naoto Fukasawa has been working on the advisory board of Muji and is on the judging panel of the Nikkei Shimbun’s Superior Products and Services Award. He was the Good Design Award chairman from 2010 to 2014. He has also judged on the Braun Prize in 2012. In 2018 he was awarded the Isamu Noguchi Award.
Naoto Fukasawa was interviewed in his studio in Tokyo, Japan, by journalist Jens H. Jensen in April 2022.
“Inspiration starts with a kind of suffering.” | Artist Kaarina Kaikkonen
”Inspiration, for me, starts with a kind of suffering. It comes from a problem that is unsolved.” Finnish artist Kaarina Kaikkonen’s father’s sudden death when she was a child was a pivotal moment in her life and art. Follow her in her endless search for men’s shirts resembling what her father wore that she uses in her iconic, grand installations: “I want to use materials that have had a previous life. Then I change it and give it a new life, a new form of art. To make beauty from ugly.”
“I like the suffering of life to become part of my art,” she says. “Inspiration is a question. And then you’ll have to try to find the answer.”
‘Get Inspired’ is a series of videos that draws close attention to the inspiration process that every artist must go through to create a work of art.”
Kaarina Kaikkonen (b. 1952) is a Finnish artist who works with sculpture and installations. Her works are often made up of recycled materials such as used shirts, skis, or dance shoes, which she assembles into gigantic installations that cast a spell over viewers with an immediate and overwhelming beauty. Kaikkonen has held solo exhibitions at prominent museums worldwide, such as KUNSTEN Museum of Modern Art in Aalborg, Kiasma in Helsinki, MAXXI Museo Nazionale Delle Arti in Rome, the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, and The Kennedy Center in Washington. Among the awards she has received the Finland Art Reward (2001), The Public Prize, Den Haag Sculptuur (2004), Honorable Mention in Cairo 11th Biennale (2009), and The Golden Chimera, 1. Biennale International d’Arte di Arezzo (2013).
Kaarina Kaikkonen was interviewed by Roxanne Bagheshirin Lærkesen in her studio in Helsinki, Finland, in May 2022.
"The honest picture will always be a good picture." | Olav Christopher Jenssen
“My pictures are about something that's touched me,” says Norway’s great painter Olav Christopher Jenssen, who shows us around his studio and speaks about the inspiration behind his work.
”Painting fascinates me for several reasons. The circumstances of painting are quite clear. You can define a painting on a simple basis. The acceptance of these limits also defines the possibilities. Some pictures are good because they're honest while they're unfinished. But the honest picture will always be a good picture,” says Olav Christopher Jenssen, who built his studio in an old school in rural southern Sweden, where he spends most of his time with his family.
Olav Christopher Jenssen (b. 1954 in Sortland, Norway) is a Norwegian artist who lives and works in Berlin, Germany, and Lya, Sweden. He studied at the National Arts and Crafts School in Oslo (1976-79) and the National Academy of the Arts in Oslo, Norway (1980-81). From 1996-2006 he was Professor at Hochschule für Bildende Künste, Hamburg, and in 2007 he was appointed Professor at Hochschule für Bildende Künste, Braunschweig. Recent major solo exhibitions include Astrup Fearnley Museum, Norway (2019) KIASMA, Finland (2010), Kunstmuseum Brandts, Denmark (2009) and Kunstmuseum Bonn, Germany (2003). Jenssen also participated in documenta 9 (1992). He is represented in several significant public collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, USA, Moderna Museet, Sweden, Astrup Fearnley Museum, Norway, Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen, Denmark, Centre Pompidou, France, Kunstmuseum Bonn, and The National Museum of Art, Architecture, and Design in Oslo, Norway.
Olav Christopher Jenssen was interviewed by Christian Lund in his studio in Lya, Sweden, in January 2022.
"I love painting because I can make lots of colour in it." | Katherine Bernhardt
“I am a busy body.” Meet the American painter Katherine Bernhardt for a talk about her work, her love for colourful, figurative motives, and why photographs are a great point of departure for starting a painting.
“I love the 80’s aesthetic, which is very colourful. I love painting because I can make lots of colour in it. I like places that have lots of colours. I am attracted to colours. Art is a way where people can go and escape from reality. The bigger, the better.”
Katherine Bernhardt (b. 1975) grew up in Clayton, MO, and received her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and her MFA from the School of Visual Arts. Over the past two decades, Bernhardt, based in St. Louis, has established herself as one of the most sought-after painters. She first attracted notice in the early 2000s for her paintings of supermodels taken straight from the pages of fashion magazines such as Elle and Vogue. In the decade following, she began making pattern paintings with an ever-expanding list of quotidian motifs. Her vibrant images offer contemplative and multifaceted reflections of various facets of everyday life and pop culture, from childhood sticker books, toilet paper, and coffee makers to E.T., Darth Vader, and the Pink Panther. She cites Henri Matisse, the Pattern and Decoration movement, Peter Doig, and Chris Ofili as artistic influences.
Bernhardt chronicles her life and the broader culture through her index of images, synthesizing her visual material with hard-won ease. She takes pleasure in variety and thoroughly investigates each of her obsessions before moving to another. Bernhardt’s trust in the fundamental underpinnings of painting gives her the freedom to depict anything she wants. The democratizing surfaces of her canvases work without illusion, perspective, logical scale shifts, or atmosphere. She is an artists’ artist, admired by many contemporary peers working today as a singular voice in painting. In a palette that ranges from restrained to vivid Day-Glo, Bernhardt paints the canvases face up on her studio floor, employing spray paint, puddles of thinned-out acrylic, and utilitarian brushwork to emphasize aspects of her motifs. Bernhardt’s process is improvisational and loose, at times inviting accident and chance into the works and asserting an equal relationship between artist and material.
Bernhardt’s work is held in the collections of the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, the Portland Museum of Art, and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., among other venues.
Katherine Bernhardt was interviewed by Marc-Christoph Wagner in June 2022 in connection with the opening of her show Why is a mushroom growing in my shower? at David Zwirner Gallery in London.
Carlos Cruz Diez: The Colours We Create
”I always say that I do not make paintings or sculptures, I make support for events.” Follow Carlos Cruz-Diez, leading figure in OpArt since the 1960’s, into a world of chromatic experience.
”Today people have learnt to see. People now see more than before.” Says Carlos Cruz-Diez, considered one of the key artists in the OpArt and Kinetic Art movements, which became major phenomena in art and visual culture in the 1950’s and 60’s. Cruz-Diez has been experimenting with vision and colour since that time, dedicating himself to an almost scientific exploration of chromatic experience in order create a method for showing colour in what he calls ‘its permanent mutation’. ”We have made colour a certainty over the centuries, but it isn’t. Colour is just a circumstance created instantaneously before our eyes.”
“When I started to tackle colour in my first works, people asked me: Where’s the human presence? Where’s the poetry? Well, precisely. There. They are there with the man himself.” Working with colour for over 50 years, Cruz-Diez’ career as an artist began at a time when painting and sculpture were considered the main, even the only acceptable media for artists to work within. As a young student Cruz-Diez would wonder: “Why was everyone applying paint with a brush on canvas? Were there no other ways of painting?” His search for an extended artwork, a deplacement of the experience of art away from the object, continues to this day. For Cruz-Diez, the work of art is not placed on the wall or floor of a gallery, but within the spectator’s experience: ”The work of art needs the viewer’s participation in order to become real. It’s not about passive contemplation but an active participation.”
Carlos Cruz-Diez (b. 1923 - d. 2019) is a Franco-Venezuelan artist who has been active within the field of Kinetic and Optical art since the 1960’s. His body of work has established him as one of the key twentieth-century thinkers in the realm of colour. His work has been shown internationally at the MoMA, New York, USA, Tate Modern, London, UK, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris and the Centre Pompidou, Paris, France, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, USA. He lives and works in Paris. For more about Carlos Cruz-Diez please visit: http://www.cruz-diez.com/
Carlos Cruz-Diez was interviewed in his studio in Panama in April 2016.
"I wanted Big Bird to have an agency." Alex Da Corte
“This is about agency. It’s about the capacity to stay or go or build your home in new places.” American artist Alex Da Corte introduces his sculpture ‘As Long as the Sun Lasts’ (2021), in which we meet Big Bird looking over their surrounding landscape from a crescent moon.
Commissioned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and shown on the museum's rooftop in New York, Alex Da Corte’s sculpture ‘As Long as the Sun Lasts’ has travelled from the United States to the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark. Inspired by Caspar David Friedrich's iconic work ‘Wanderer Above of the Sea of Fog’ (1818), Big Bird too gazes at the world before its feet: “I think this work is about an empathetic outlook towards the world,” Da Corte explains. “The Big Bird character becomes a sort of stand-in for someone looking for a home or looking for a place they feel comfortable with.” The sculpture was initially created during the pandemic when most people were forced to stay within their homes. Now the large sculpture takes the place of Alexander Calder’s ‘Little Janey-Waney’ (1964/1976). “I was looking at Calder and the way in which his mobiles are contained, as one is contained in a home, but also free if they are outside, of course.”
Big Bird is known for the popular children's television show Sesame Street, created by Jim Henson. We’re used to seeing a yellow bird on the TV show, but in a film from 1985 called ‘Follow That Bird’, Big Bird is captured and painted blue when out on a quest to find their home. “I was curious about this kind of collision where one quite literally is wearing their heart on their sleeve,” Alex Da Corte says, referring to how ‘blue’ also can be a feeling. Changing the color of Big Bird on the sculpture “begs you to look more sharply and say: ‘Was this always blue? Or was that person just blue underneath their outer shell?”
Alex da Corte (b. 1980) is an American artist born in New Jersey, who lived in Venezuela until he was eight and now lives and works in Philadelphia. He has had solo shows and presentations at, e.g. the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia, Carl Kostyal in Stockholm, Sadie coles, London, White Cube in London, MASS MoCA in Massachusetts and the Institute of Contemporary Art in Portland, Maine. Moreover, his work has been shown at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, Denmark, MoMA PS1, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Alex Da Corte was interviewed by Roxanne Bagheshirin Lærkesen at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark. The work ‘As Long as the Sun Lasts’ is shown in connection to Alex Da Corte’s solo exhibition at the museum from July 14 2022, until January 8 2023.
"First priority is to make an entertaining picture." | Photographer Martin Parr
Legendary British documentary photographer Martin Parr is known for his innovative, often satirical imagery portraying modern life in the wealthy western world. Here he looks back at 50 years of work. "If you look at the world, what can you do, it is funny, and if you don't laugh, you cry", he says.
Martin Parr began his career shooting in black and white documenting society as a "celebration of life," he says, and when he moved to color in the mid-8oies, his work became a "critique of society," he says. He calls his photography his "personal interpretation of what I see in front of me." "My pictures are fictional because I often use flash, not something you would see with a human eye."
Martin Parr was born in Surrey, United Kingdom, in 1952. He studied photography at Manchester Polytechnic from 1970 to 1973. As a documentary photographer, Martin Parr has worked on numerous photographic projects. He has developed an international reputation for his innovative imagery, his oblique approach to social documentary, and his contribution to photographic culture within the UK and abroad. In 1994 he became a full member of Magnum Photographic Cooperative.
Christian Lund interviewed Martin Parr at the Martin Parr Foundation in Bristol in December 2021.
Paul Graham Gives Advice to Young Photographers
“Start working, make mistakes, keep going.”
Famous British photographer Paul Graham advises young people not to give up too early on their artistic dreams and ambitions. “Every time I start something new, it is junk, and I am embarrassed. But sooner or later, the world will whisper in your ear and say: Let me show you something far more interesting than your little idea. But you have to be prepared to listen.”
Paul Graham (born 1956) is a British artist who has worked solely in the photographic medium for 45 years. He was born in Stafford, UK, to parents in the Royal Air Force, and after various relocations, grew up in Harlow, Essex, before studying Microbiology at Bristol University. While there, he discovered art photography and, on graduating, decided to pursue that full time. Working in colour from the late 1970s, his work was critical in moving documentary practice forward from classic black and white photography. He made three bodies of work in the UK during the 1980s, firstly along with the A1- The Great North Road (1981/2), then on Mrs Thatcher's unemployment crisis with Beyond Caring (1984) and lastly in Northern Ireland during the darker times of the mid-1980s with Troubled Land (1984-6). Since then, he has travelled and exhibited widely for four decades, works notably engaged with western Europe in New Europe, and Japan with Empty Heaven. His photography has been exhibited at the Venice Biennale and the inaugural show of Fotomuseum Winterthur in Switzerland, as well as a solo show at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. In 2000 he moved to the USA, where he has completed three notable series of work, including a shimmer of possibility, which won the first Paris Photo book prize as the best photography book of the past 15 years. He lives in New York City with his partner and son.
Paul Graham was interviewed by Marc-Christoph Wagner at his home in New York City in March 2022.
"In a moment when there would be no names, and maybe art would happen outside of the museum, it would be something that you don’t even call art.” Meet Daniel Knorr, a Romanian artist who triggers debate about the systems of the world we live in with his critical, colourful, and conceptual art.
“I try not to be self-referential because, to be honest, I have nothing to refer to. I don’t feel like I’m special,” says Daniel Knorr. “I just feel like I try to show the moment we live in as much as I can.” Coming to Germany from Romania as a teenager, Knorr began exploring the world of art through books: “I felt this kind of moment of freedom looking into art,” he remembers and continues: “Somehow I felt that I was outside of the society and can do whatever I can and want.” To him, art gives maximum freedom both to the artist and the person experiencing the art: “All of us are freed, in a way, by art. I think this is one of the reasons why art should be around us and in us.”
Daniel Knorr’s work doesn’t restrain itself from the traditional gallery walls. Often, you’ll find his work out in the open; balaclavas on statues in public spaces (Stolen History, 2010), smoke from the Zwehrenturm tower in Kassel (Expiration Movement, 2017), making artist books with valueless objects found on the streets of Athens (Artist Book, 2007-). “The ideas grow together, and they trigger the materials.” Knorr aims to make us think, talk, and discuss. This is what makes his work materialise, he believes. When representing Romania at the Venice Biennial in 2005, he presented this to the audience: an empty room. “It was a work that was critical towards the format of the biennale itself as a trans-national happening. But also, to the idea of the expansion of Europe towards the East and the idea of why Europe goes there based on values like economic, territory, and military.”
At Art Basel in 2019, Daniel Knorr made a performance called ‘Laundry’. Cars made in canvases rolled through a car wash, which instead of cleaning the canvas cars, sprayed them with multiple colours of paint, leaving the vehicle as a colourful and abstract painting. “It’s a work that reacted to the system of Art Basel itself. And how financial things are behind the scenes,” he says, referring to the connection between the wealthy and the art world. The idea for the work started in Los Angeles, which “is a car city,” as Knorr points out.
The series Depression Elevation are depressions and uneven spots on highways and streets cast in moulds. The depressions, or potholes, are “witnesses of our history,” Knorr says and continues to explain: “It’s a biopolitical phenomenon. It’s the street. It’s made industrial in a way that makes us quicker. We get from a to b; we’re productive.” The moulds have been produced worldwide: “I have a work; it’s a form from Munich. It’s from the Feldherrnhalle, which is a place full of history. The nazis started, more or less, the Second World War there,” Knorr explains of the now democratic place. “I did a piece there where I put some pink in it, and I used different colours, but pink is in the middle. I call it ‘The Rebirth of the Pink Panther’. But Pink Panther, you have to know, is also a right-wing organisation and it’s totally related to this in a critical way.”
”Art now becomes industrialised,” Daniel Knorr reflects: “We live in a moment where everything gets evaluated.” He is mindful and somewhat critical of collecting, which he thinks is a way of building an identity: “Buying work and putting it inside is the highest moment of a system. A state finds its highest representation in its art.”
Daniel Knorr (b. 1968) is a Romanian artist living in Berlin, Germany. His works employ a vast variety of materials with everything from smoke to cocaine. Knorr studied under Daniel Spoerri at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. In the 1990s, he moved to Berlin and represented Romania in the 2005 Venice Biennale with the work European Influenza. In 2017 he debuted the work Expiration Movement at documenta 14 in Kassel and Athens. His works are held in the collections of the Migros Museum in Zurich, the Stasi Museum in Leipzig, and the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich.
Daniel Knorr was interviewed by Roxanne Bagheshirin Lærkesen at his studio in Berlin, Germany, in March 2022.