|FEIN - Juli 2021
AF: CLAUS VESTERAGER MARTINUS
FOTO: LENE SAMSØ
Egentlig er det sjovt, at der ikke findes en
billedkunstens muse. Der findes én for alverdens
digtekunst. Musikken har sin Euterpe.
Måske lidt passende alligevel. For musik
har i generationer inspireret verdens store
malere til stor kunst. Det gælder også for
billedkunstneren Lisbeth Lunda. Musik er i
hendes DNA. Ikke som udøvende kunstner.
Snarere som én der er ånder og lever for
god musik. (Faktisk mødte hun sit livs kærlig
ved Smukfest-festivalen i Skanderborg.)
Som få formår hun at knytte lyrikken og det
musikalske udtryk til et nyt univers, hvor hun
selv fører penslen.
Lisbeth Lundas musikalske univers er fast
centreret omkring det danske band Kashmir
– og ikke mindst Kasper Eistrups smukke
”Kashmir og ikke mindst Kasper Eistrups
tekster fylder meget i mit univers. Musik har
altid fyldt meget. Men hans tekster berører
mig dybt. Og de vækker nogle følelser i
mig, som jeg bruger til at skabe forbindelser
til de ting i mit liv, som har formet mig.
De valg som jeg har måtte træffe. Og det
menneske, som jeg er blevet til,” siger Lisbeth
KASHMIRS SANGE PÅ LÆRRED
Faktisk mødte hun Kasper Eistrup til en udstilling
og stod med egne ord som en genert
skolepige og trådte sig selv over tæerne inden,
hun fik taget mod til sig og fortalt ham,
hvor meget hans musik betød for hende –
og at hun gerne ville have lov til at arbejde
med hans musik som direkte forlæg til en
serie malerier, som hun ville kalde SEE-SOULSOUND.
”Svaret var ikke afvisende. ’Skriv til mig, så
kan vi tale om det.’ Han lyttede og indvilgede.
Og foreløbig har jeg så skabt syv
værker, der både har en historie at fortælle
fra mit eget liv – og som har direkte relevans
for nogle af de bedste sange, som Kasper
Eistrup og Kashmir har skabt.”
Tryghed. At hvile i sin kærlighed. At overleve
sin tvivl. Det er måske det overordnede budskab
i sangen Petite Machine (2003). Og
måske også løftet om at passe på sin elskede.
Med basis i sit eget liv med en opvækst
i et religiøst hjem og stramme tøjler som
foreskrevet af Syvendedagsadventisterne,
det alt for tidlige tab af sin far og en bilulykke,
hvor hun brækkede nakken, er der da
også rigelig grund til at kaste sig lidt i
guds vold. At hun lader sig omfavne af
den person, der elsker og beskytter hende
i livet. Ikke mindst fordi den frygtløse ungdom
nu som 54-årig er afløst af en erkendelse
af, at vi alle er dødelige. Som ung
var det udfordringerne ved snowboarding,
faldskærmsudspring og velvoksne heste,
der talte. Nu hersker billedkunsten – og
Opvæksten i Nordjylland – nærmere bestemt
i den lille landsby Jerslev tæt på Brønderslev
– med al dens usikkerhed, ensomhed og
stræben efter noget andet, er blevet afløst
af en anden form for ro. Og ikke mindst en
vilje til at finde ind til det gode i mennesket.
Kærligheden, accepten og troen på
andre. Hun er endda kommet til tåls med
sit ungdomsoprør mod religionen og lade
sig voksendøbe ind i folkekirken.
HISTORIEN OM HENDES LIV
Lisbeth Lunda har en skarp linje i sin kunst.
På mange måder en mere grafisk fremtoning,
hvor det er hovedfiguren i hendes
der er i centrum. Ikke nogen
indholdsrig baggrund til at forstyrre billedet
af den alt omfavnende kærlighed. Musikkens
transition fra det lydlige univers til
det mere taktile eller håndgribelige bliver
med Kashmirs Petite Machine med penselstrøg
og bladguld til en kronhjort, der favner
en kvinde svøbt i et gyldent mønstret
tæppe. Petite Machine rummer en inciterende
trommerytme – måske et menneskes
hjertelyd. Hun er i live. Beskyttet. Og ret
symbolsk: Det mønstrede tæppe har ét
ikke-rektangulært mønster nemlig et lille
hjerte. Kærlighed eller liv? Med Kashmirs
ord: You’re not alone in seconds of doubt.
Og hånden der favner hende i tæppet, ja,
det er faktisk et portræt af hendes mands
”Jeg synes, det er en fantastisk tekst – og
musik. Det rører mig dybt. For jeg er vokset
op med tvivl. Truffet beslutninger og foretaget
livsvalg,” siger Lisbeth Lunda og fortsætter:
”Dét, der for alvor betyder noget
er, at jeg gennem min kunst er i stand til at
fortælle en historie: Om unge kvinder, der
ikke bliver behandlet ordentligt. Om tilgivelse
og accept. Om skam, ensomhed og
fremmedgørelse. Men det vigtigste er, at
historien berører mig.”
|Indtil videre har Lisbeth Lunda skabt syv værker
i serien, hun har døbt SEE-SOUL-SOUND.
Alt i alt skal den bestå af 12 malerier.
Og blot lige for at slå det fast: Der er bestemt
ikke tale om illustrationer af Kashmirs
tekster og musik. Det er en nyopstået symbiose.
Titler, tekst og musik har en dyb betydning
for Lisbeth Lunda. Det er koblingen
til hendes eget univers, der skaber hendes
kunst. Og det er en ny unik oplevelse. Om
end det stadig giver mening at suge billederne
ind til tonerne af Kashmirs musik.
BETALT MED TÅRER
Ikke mindst derfor er det også så berigende
for Lisbeth Lunda at opleve, at hendes
malerier også berører tilskueren. ”Jeg har set
et herreselskab, der – måske ved en fejl –
dukkede op til en fernisering. Måske ville de
bare have et glas vin. Men de var der i timer.
Og jeg tror, de blev fanget ind af mine malerier.
Det samme oplevede jeg i London,
hvor upper class ladies pludselig stod med
Men den største anerkendelse fik Lisbeth
Lunda da en ung studerende pludselig stod
foran et af hendes værker med tårer i øjnene.
Et eller andet ved maleriet havde ramt
dybt i hende. Og hun brugte det næste halve
år på at spare sin SU sammen, så hun
kunne få råd til at købe billedet. ”Det er den
slags oplevelser, der fortæller mig, at mine
historier også har en betydning for andre.
Og det er dét, der er blevet min drivkraft.”
At arbejde med sin historie og følelser er
måske dét, der for alvor har haft betydning
for Lisbeth Lundas kunstneriske virke. Ikke
mindst fordi hun også tør vise sig selv, når
det gør ondt.
”Min far begik selvmord. Det var hårdt.
Ubeskriveligt hårdt. Trods forskelligheder,
religion og min egne oplevelser som teenager,
hvor jeg kæmpede med ensomhed
og skam, var det ikke noget, jeg så komme.
Men det har også haft betydning for,
hvordan jeg ser på mit liv. I dag har jeg lagt
ungdommens frygtløshed bag mig. Ikke
mere roller-blading, dykning eller store vilde
heste. Jeg har ikke længere de bekymringer,
som fik mig til at leve mit liv som om,
hver dag var den sidste. Vi er ikke udødelige.
Og min største frygt er i dag, at jeg ikke slår til".
ACCEPT OG TILGIVELSE
Tilgivelsen bliver derfor vigtig for Lisbeth
Lunda. I hendes stue med udsigt over Københavns
havn hænger et smukt udtryk for
netop tilgivelsen. Et gyldent lærred med
bladguld, en kvinde der har sluppet en
fugl, der flyver bort. Et roligt og behersket
udtryk, der viser samhørighed, ærbødighed
– og måske også løftet om at skulle ses på
et andet sted til en anden tid. Titlen ’It's OK
Now’ fortæller også historien i klart sprog.
Det har været skidt. Men nu er det tid til
tilgivelse – og til at komme videre.
Det er kunst, der – med et lån fra Bertolt
Brecht – lidt har formet sig som en jagt på
’Det gode menneske’. For det er måske essensen
af Lisbeth Lunda arbejde med akrylfarver,
pensler og lærred. At finde ind til
det gode menneske. I sig selv – og i andre.
”For mig handler det om at turde se sandheden
om éns eget liv i øjnene. Der er altid en
kant på sandheden. En begyndelse og en
slutning, hvorimod selvbedraget og løgnen er
uformelig og uendelig,” siger Lisbeth Lunda.
At arbejde med sandheden – og sært nok
også sin fars død – har også betydet, at hun
igen er begyndt at tale med sin mor. Om de
svære ting. Om livet. Og hendes valg. ”Det
har været en stor gave for mig,” slutter hun.
Aktuelt er Lisbeth Lunda ved at forberede
nye udstillinger på den genåbnede danske
kunstscene – kun kortvarigt afbrudt af arbejdet
med et stort portrætmaleri.
Hun debuterede i 2018 med soloudstillingen
CONVERSATIONS. En udstilling som hun
med held også eksporterede til Old Brompton
Gallery i London året efter. Og faktisk
var der planlagt en opfølgning med udstillingen
Conversations II i Mayfair, London i år.
Men Corona-pandemien kom i vejen.
Udover originalværker producerer Lisbeth
Lunda også Art Prints i høj kvalitet. For som
hun siger: ”Originalen kan jo kun hænge ét
sted – og en kunstner skal jo også leve!” •
|Artist Lisbeth Lunda has recently launched her new project See-Soul-Sound created in collaboration with Kasper Eistrup, the frontman of the Danish alternative rock band Kashmir. She shares her thoughts on art, music and life in her dream city, Copenhagen.
It is probably not a surprise that some popular songs or musical pieces were once inspired by paintings: the Great Wave off Kanagawa by Katsushika Hokusai is responsible for Claude Debussy’s La Mer. Don McLean, the author of Starry, Starry Night, drew inspiration straight from Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night. Or, recently, Viva la Vida by Coldplay owes its name to Kahlo’s Viva la Vida, Watermelons, whilst What I Saw in the Water sparked the creativity of Florence and the Machine and resulted in What the Water Gave Me. The reverse is also true: 19th and 20th century European artists, such as Kandinsky, Mondrian and Matisse, sought to create a symbiosis between the art forms, such as music and painting. Their goal was to find the ultimate synthetic art form. “All art constantly aspires towards the condition of music” – pronounced art critic and author Walter Pater in 1877. The quest that began back then has never stopped.
It is precisely for this reason that the new project See-Soul-Sound, launched by the Copenhagen artist Lisbeth Lunda, has caught my attention. Her new inspiring series of artworks combine painting and music in a synthetic manner. The project itself has a performative aspect and strives to achieve a multi-media effect: it was born of interaction with the famous frontman of the Danish alternative rock-band Kashmir, and brings together word, image and sound. The new series are not about exploring formal parallels in music and painting, but rather about their overlapping meanings and expressive means. Each artwork bears the title of the original Kashmir song and is accompanied by the corresponding lyrics. Lisbeth has been the fan of the band for decades and knows their discography inside out. “I love music and cannot imagine my life without it. So, this project is a tribute to my favourite musicians and their songs” – explains Lunda.
The six new paintings of the See-Soul-Sound series were all done in 2020, during the quarantine lockdown. These are: Surfing the Warm Industry, Break of the Avalanche, Lampshade, In the Sand, Petite Machine and She’s Made of Chalk1.
Even though the paintings’ titles correspond to the names of the songs, they are in no way illustrative – they are separate entities that can be appreciated independently on their own. However, when sound, poetry and image come together, they form a powerful symbiosis. In the process of viewing, as one listens to the music and lyrics of each corresponding song, the paintings instantly acquire extra layers of meaning. Simultaneously, the music and lyrics take on a visual form, while the viewer interacts with the artwork in an immersive fashion. So, how has this all become possible?
Early in 2019 Lisbeth Lunda contacted the musicians of the Kashmir rock-band, primarily Kasper Eistrup, the author and performer of the songs, with the request to allow his selected songs to feature alongside some of her paintings. The musician gave his official permission, and this is how the project started off. As the exhibition opened on August 13, Eistrup sent his greetings and congratulations to Lisbeth Lunda.
Logically, at this point, a question arose, if Eistrup, a Danish leading rock-star and also a successful painter in his own right (his portrait of HRH Crown Prince Frederik, 'Lancier' was commissioned by The Museum of National History on the occasion of the Crown Prince's 50th birthday), was difficult to approach. Lunda replied: “No, not at all. On having considered my project, he gave his wholehearted support and was very friendly and approachable. I was so happy that he gave his permission and allowed me to use his lyrics for my project!” Overall, the See-Soul-Sound project will consist of twelve paintings (so, the six ones exhibited in August, are the first part of the project). The next two paintings out of the remaining six, will be titled Ether - Rocket Brothers. Lunda plans to complete the second part of the project within next year.
Lunda’s new series of paintings have their own backstories, rooted in her own childhood and life experiences. There is less introspection in these new compositions (unlike in her previous works), their characters fully engage with the viewer and relate their stories. This time, it is more about the dialogue and connection. There is a certain fairy-tale-like quality to the new paintings, somewhat reminding of a great Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen. Surprisingly, Lunda agrees: “In a way, I feel like a narrator, not only a painter. Each artwork represents a certain reality, it tells a story, and I feel more like a story-teller, who brings hidden narratives to life”. Perhaps, it is not completely by chance that Lunda’s Copenhagen art studio is just a short walking distance away from the legendary Little Mermaid sculpture.
Several new works have an arresting quality that keeps the viewer lingering on in front of them. Surfing the Warm Industry instantly makes one wonder about Lunda’s own narrative. Apparently, it corresponds to Lisbeth’s own experience of working in a big commercial organisation in the advertising and entertainment industry. Despite the striking imagery, the painting is very feminist in its tenor and message. It points to the industry’s misogynist ethos, its repressive and competitive character. In the foreground one sees a young blonde girl surrounded by silverback gorillas – symbols of the corporate world. Just to remind: a silverback is typically a gorilla male more than 12 years of age, and is named so for the distinctive patch of silver hair on his back, signalling maturity. In the composition, these three figures are the symbols of alpha males that rule the corporate world. According to Lunda, one of them is the top leader, the other one is his indispensable aide, who also wields considerable power, while the third one behind them is power-thirsty and ready to do anything to take the position of the first two ones. He is the “really scheming and evil one”.
The silverback gorillas appear to be led by the young and innocent-looking girl in the foreground. This way, the composition visually reverses the clichés of corporate hierarchy where alpha males lead and females follow. The artist turns the tables on corporate ethos by representing the bosses as silverback gorillas who follow the young female and, possibly, act as her bodyguards. Overall, the work seems to be about taming the industry’s movers and shakers, or in other words, – about the female empowerment in the corporate setting and the major role women could play in big businesses.
Break of the Avalanche is another painting that looks back to Lisbeth’s childhood and her relationship with her late father. The painting dwells on the issues of acceptance and rejection, belonging and feeling isolated, attachment and estrangement. The figures of the girl and her father (his face is hidden behind the mask) seem to be symbiotically merged together. Simultaneously, the girl appears to be willing to break away from this symbiosis, become her own self. The heroine’s gesture is particularly indicative of this, as she simultaneously clings to her father’s shoulder and pushes him away. The figure of the man in the mask seems to be leaning away from her and appears limp and enervate, as if unable to stand on its own. His hand is clutched into a feast (something that Lunda refers to in her personal mythology as a “weak hand”, for one is unable to do much with their hands clutched and energy bound). The scene itself is an embodiment of a dysfunctional and somewhat toxic relationship. Exactly, as in the eponymous song:
So, I shiver for you, As you tremble for me, I step on your shoes, I trip on your heels.
However, there is a glimpse of hope even amidst the gloom, for the butterflies held in the little girl’s hand herald resurrection, restoration and healing.
She’s Made of Chalk addresses the issue of suicide. The painting depicts a young girl with a halo, her saint-like figure set against the golden-leaf background, reminiscent of medieval paintings. Although presented frontally, the girl is completely immersed in her own thoughts and distances from the viewer by averting her gaze. She lost connection with the outer world, and even though a butterfly is pulling a strand of her hair, as if attempting to bring her back to reality, the girl seems to resist. The work remarkably resonates with the eponymous song and its lyrics written about an isolated suicidal girl. The tone of the song is compassionate and sympathetic, seeking to restore the heroine’s basic trust in the world and people. This artwork curiously relates to another painting in the series, the Lampshade. At least, they both can be perceived as the images of the victim and the abuser.
In the words of Lisbeth Lunda, the Lampshade represents one of these charming, wily, abusive and ruthless characters in top positions. In her own words, “he is like a Harvey Weinstein type. He is important, seemingly pleasant and courteous, but he is a monster”. The accompanying lyrics, if somewhat ironic, are even more convincing:
Cheerful and swollen he waves from his seat in a Rover That is his car You wouldn't doubt him to shake the most powerful hands of importance, Changing the world as we know it by leaving his ink, To judge from the fence round his house he must love all his children, That's what you think…
The suspense builds up further with the words:
Like the dog has a chain clinging tied to its neck, This man is tied to his secrecy.
The ageing man in the painting looks deceptively harmless and somewhat eccentric, with a collared parakeet perched on his shoulder. The major clue, however, is the pistol, disguised as a walking stick and held in the protagonist’s hand. His figure is shrouded in darkness and the background is thick black. If the silverbacks in Surfing the Warm Industry are overtly aggressive, this character is disarmingly non-threatening. Such people manage to climb the top of the career ladder and concentrate immense power in their hands with disastrous consequences for others. Like the song, the painting has the aura of dangerous mystery about it. One can break the secrecy of the character only at one’s own peril, risking one’s livelihood or even the life itself.
Two other works, Petite Machine and In the Sand, are dealing with the idea of unconditional, compassionate, idealistic love and with yearning for such love.
Technically, Lunda’s paintings appear to have developed some new features. Preferring flat surfaces and frontal compositions (which give her works a certain medieval feel), the artist began to combine those with the areas worked in thick impasto. In fact, some of them, as in Lampshade or Petite Machine, acquire a relief-like quality, adding texture and three-dimensionality to her works. The contrast of flat and relief-like surfaces, the clash of two-and three-dimensionality adds conflict and intrigue to her compositions. For instance, in Petite Machine, the figures of lovers (the composition made me think of Klimt’s Kiss) locked in an intimate embrace, are visually joined together by the golden relief-like patch that also appears as their rich ornamental tunics. The use of gold leaf in She’s Made of Chalk recalls medieval "gold-ground" paintings, illuminated manuscripts and early mosaics.
In her own practice Lunda seems to combine various methods that help her attain the desired expressive quality. The artist uses acrylic paints, but her colour palette is restricted to yellows, reds, blues, blacks, whites and browns – an unmistakable characteristic of her signature artistic style and painterly manner.
Among her influences, Lunda lists the art of the Middle Ages and early Italian Renaissance, early Modernist art of the 20th century. However, she also admitted drawing inspiration from the absurdist surrealist and grotesque works by the Danish artist Michael Kvium.
Overall, Lunda has artistically and conceptually advanced since her previous exhibition in London. Apparently, the recent Covid-19 troubles were instrumental in that, as the lockdown prompted her to concentrate on her work, and her artistic output doubled. She admitted that previously it took her at least a month and longer to finish a painting, but this year she was able to produce two paintings per month. Even though the artist complains that the city “looked empty, sad, and lonely”, she seems to have benefitted from the situation.
Strolling the City with Lisbeth Lunda
Now, that life gradually resumes its usual rhythm and the city is buzzing with energy and bursting with sunshine (it was probably as hot, as in Italy while I was staying in Copenhagen), Lunda is happy to be out of the isolation of her studio. “The energy circulating in the city around me also affects my energy levels” – confesses the artist. “It is astonishing how interconnected everything is”. Indeed, Copenhagen is a vibrant city offering a variety of experiences for culture vultures and foodies alike.
As there are various references to Copenhagen in her paintings, and the city dominates her life and her work, we have suggested that, as a local, Lisbeth provides a small itinerary for those who would come on a short visit (2 or three days) to Copenhagen, and perhaps, to her current and future exhibitions.
If you would like to experience Lisbeth’s everyday surroundings, start exploring the city with Langelinie. You can walk along the harbour banks and stroll towards the Little Mermaid. Be prepared that the Little Mermaid (Den Lille Havfrue) is a remarkably small landmark. It was commissioned by brewery magnate Carl Jacobsen in 1909 and was cast by sculptor Edvard Eriksen, whose wife, Eline, was the model. Don’t miss two green-domed pavilions on quayside beyond the Little Mermaid. It is there that the Danish royal family gathers before boarding their yacht called the Dannebrog.
From there you can set off for Kastellet – one of the best-preserved fortresses in Europe, constructed in the form of a pentagon, with its ramparts, moats and bastions, now peaceful and picturesque. Today, it is a beautiful natural park that provides artistic and peaceful environment in the midst of the busy city. If you enter Kastellet from the harbour, don’t miss the imposing Gefion Fountain, with a powerful Norse goddess Gefjon (goddess of ploughing and fertility) being driven by oxen pulling a plow.
Nyhavn (New Harbour) is a waterfront entertainment area. Even several decades ago it was a seedy haunt for sailors, shadowy types and girls of easy virtue, but today it is a completely respectable and beautiful area of the city, a waterside attraction with its picturesque fishing boats, young street musicians performing nearby and delicious food available until the small hours in the morning.
As an artist, Lisbeth founds inspiring her occasional incursions into Christiania – a “freetown”, a city within a city – a safe haven for hippies, dreamers, and non-conformists since 1970s, when a band of squatters moved into the abandoned army barracks with the aim to create a self-sustaining community, free from the shackles of the state. Today it sits on the edge of the city’s most prestigious neighbourhood. It is one of the most important music venues, with its own art galleries, bars and shops. You should explore it if you are looking to experience city’s relaxed bohemian and artistic atmosphere.
If you are tired of exploring the area and need some nourishment, go to Lola restaurant, perched on a hill close to Christiania. It is one of the most delicious restaurants offering fusion cuisine. Housed in the old 17th century mill-house, Lola offers remarkable scenic views. It is particularly charming in summertime. And don’t forget to book your table in advance – the place is very popular among the Danes themselves!
Marmorkirken is referred to in She’s Made of Chalk. Properly called Frederiks Kirken, the church was built using Norwegian marble. It was designed by the architect Nicolai Eigtved in 1740 and was inspired by St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Its dome, one of the largest in Europe, has a diameter of 31 metres. Mind, that it usually opens for viewing around 12.30 every day, otherwise, it may be difficult to access it at other times. You can combine your trip to Marmorkirken with the visit to Amalienborg, the home of the Danish Royal family. Explore the rococo and classical interiors and watch the change of the guard.
Another church to visit in the Latin Quarter of the city is Trinitatis Kirke, or the Holy Trinity Church. Its present Baroque interior with boxed pews with seashell carvings, a dark wood pulpit and a gold and silver organ are a must-see. If you are not lucky and the church is closed, you can look at its interior through the glass door from the Round Tower (Rundetårn) that also houses a science museum and offers breath-taking panoramic views over Copenhagen. Apart from the cityscape, you will get the idea of its soundscape, as well, as churches around the city strike each new hour. The Round Tower was built on orders of King Christian IV in 1642. As the King was a keen astronomer, it was meant to become his observatory. The top of the tower is very easy to access as you have to go up the spiralling internal ramp. Apparently, as Lisbeth explains it, the ramp was built, so the king could ride his horse all the way up to the top of the tower.
Statens Museum for Kunst, or the National Gallery holds a strong collection of the European Medieval, Renaissance, Mannerist, Baroque and Rococo art. Look out for Mantegna’s Christ as the Suffering Redeemer, Filippino Lippi’s Meeting of Joachim and Anna, Melancholy by Lucas Cranach the Elder, Salvator Rosa’s Democritus in Meditation, Bust of Camilla Barbadori by young Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini, Rembrandt’s Sketch for the Knight with the Falcon, iconic portrait of Madame Matisse, or the Green Stripe, by Henri Matisse, Amedeo Modigliani’s Alice, works by Hammershoi, Per Kirkeby and other outstanding European artists. It is worth spending a day there, if you have time.
Rosenborg Castle, situated nearby the Statens Museum for Kunst, was originally built as a summer residence for King Christian IV in 1606-1634 in the area that once used to be the tranquil countryside. It stands surrounded by the moat and gardens (now the Kongens Have park). This was Christian IV’s favourite castle, and many rooms retain their original Renaissance décor. If you need to see the late Renaissance or Mannerist interiors of the late 16th and early 17th century, you should visit this castle. Admire the Winter Room, the Marble Hall and the Knight’s Hall with occasional studiolo-type cabinets, full of curiosities and precious artworks. The castle also has been used as the king’s treasury since 1658. You will be amazed at the Denmark’s Crown Jewels and beautiful ambassadorial gifts displayed in this part of the castle. And do not forget, that the ticket you buy for the castle also allows you to visit the National Gallery for no extra cost. So, keep the ticket.
1The exhibition, which was the first part of the project, ran in the cosy gallery at Bredgade, 22, right in the heart of the historical city, between 13th and 25th August. The second part of the project – another six paintings, for the whole series consists of twelve works – will be exhibited in 2021, between September 8-21. There will be further exhibitions of Lisbeth's work in September 2020 in Big Bio Nordhavn (from September 13 onwards) and Helligåndskirken (September 30).
|Link to interview on Wall Street International
October 12th. 2019
Someone Told Me That I Was Very Brave...
Irene Kukota - Wall Street Journal
To coincide with the Frieze art fair, taking part in London, MA Gallery mounted CONVERSATIONS -- the debut show featuring Lisbeth Lunda’s paintings in South Kensington.
When one looks at Lisbeth Lunda’s works, one has the feeling of being out of this time and space, perhaps facing something reminiscent of the Medieval sacred art or Magical Realism. Lunda decidedly has her own style and speaks to the viewer in her own idiom steeped in personal experience and her own philosophy. She has developed her own system of symbols based on European and other artistic traditions. It is quite remarkable how she blends them in her art: a butterfly is a symbol of resurrection, but zebra may refer to a Norwegian NET Cancer foundation and the tragic story of Lunda’s close friend. Sometimes animals may have a human head as a sign of their empathy and humanity. Each painting is a poetic labyrinth, a journey accompanied by a poem which may provide the key to understanding the work’s meaning. Her works are arresting, mysterious, naïve and moving, if not tragic at times. She introduces herself as an existential artist – the one who grapples with these eternal “cursed questions”, as Dostoevsky once put it. And these are the questions of human mortality, angst, sadness, hope, love, joy, fear, broken illusions and searching for profound answers to one’s dilemmas and life crises. She refers to Christian theology, psychology and philosophy, the choice between good and evil, and to the experiences that shape our humanity. At the same time she generously invites into her world and shares the treasures of her heart.
It probably will not be an exaggeration to name her art “the map of her soul”: the artist herself calls her painting practice “100 per cent therapeutic”. As a person, she is warm, as an artist she is open and candid about sharing her life story, and this is why her art evokes strong responses.
Lisbeth, what did you do before you started painting?
I graduated with qualifications of an Art Director and a graphic designer from The Danish DRB Advertising University. I had worked for 30 years in commercial advertising business as an art director and a graphic designer before I chose to switch to being an artist in 2017. It was not an easy decision, as I was in top echelon in my field but I also felt that I could not go on this way. And at that point my husband looked at me and said: “You like painting and writing, don’t you? So, chose what you like to concentrate on and do it well, and I will support you”. And this is how my new life began.
Your paintings sometimes look like mysterious riddles one has to unravel. What are they mostly about? And why do you call yourself an existentialist artist?
Since I was a little girl, people would say I was thinking too much. I was brought up in the family of Seventh Day Adventists and religion was a significant part of my background.
I was a loner who constantly felt isolated. And one of the paintings, called “Invisible” is exactly about this: it tells about this teenage girl who is coping with shame, feels lonely and alienated. She complains of being invisible, of not being noticed. I think a lot of teenagers do that. In my case, my parents led a very busy life when I was growing up, which also intensified my feelings of being alone and abandoned.
From early on, children who were around me were not the children I went to school with. Perhaps, this is why I was spending most time outdoors, in the open. Forests, fields and beaches gave me the peace of mind I needed. I spent a lot of time with animals like horses and dogs. They were my friends! Perhaps, this explains why I often catch myself thinking that I prefer the company of animals to the society of people. Please, do not misunderstand me: I enjoy being among people but I also need to alternate communication with being on my own, between being active and introspective. My inner thoughts and conversations are the foundation of my work.
Religious communities to which you used to belong are usually very tightly knit. How did you manage to break away from their influence?
In fact, my parents did this first. I was around 13-14 years old when my parents decided to leave the community. And then they let me break out. However, for a while they were keeping up appearances, which meant a lot of lying. We needed to keep up appearances before my father’s family because they were very religious people. This situation created a split and a big conflict within me: I was brought up believing that lying is one of the biggest sins, and then we had to feign a lot. And this is one of the reasons why today people call me too honest: I cannot lie. I am really bad at it.
Eventually, in my teenage years I became averse to religion. As an Adventist, you are supposed to get baptised once you turn 16-17 years old. I refused to do that. I went through a long phase when I became an atheist and did not believe in anything. When people would ask me what I was believing in, I would reply: “the good in mankind”. And this phase lasted a long time but then I began studying various religions and philosophical systems. Nature also played a great role in my life: I spent hours in the forest with my horse and my dogs.
After I reached 45, I decided to get baptised as Christian in the church nearby (the national Church in Denmark, not Adventist). After all, I realised that religion was still a big part of my life. I went to the preacher and said to him: “I was thinking about being baptised, but we need to talk first. I do not believe in all these old dogmas. I believe in love of the Universe. I believe in something greater than us. And he said that he never had a conversation like this with an adult before but thought it was a great idea. And we had a wonderful conversation and agreed that one can call same phenomena different names but they are still the same phenomena. This pastor is one of my best friends today, but I am not an avid church-goer, though.
So, where does your inspiration comes from?
From being alone in nature or with animals. I retreat and refuel with wildlife, my closest friends and family. Even though I am enjoying being in company I feel tired afterwards.
Well, decidedly animals play a great role in your life and there is a distinct presence of animals in your work. Does it signify anything?
Yes, in “Farewell”, I painted my Boston terrier. She had a tumour which turned out to be cancerous. And the reason why the dog has a human face is that she had more personality and more empathy than the most people I knew. For me she was a friend. Of course, it is easier to love an animal than a person. When you love a dog it loves you back. To love another person one has to surrender oneself, and to me that was the hardest thing I have ever done. And this is what my painting “Surrender” is about – it expresses my love to my husband. He is the only person who made this possible.
Also, in my paintings I feature endangered species like bees or salamanders. For me it is an opportunity to draw attention to them: unfortunately, I feel there are too many homo sapiens in the world who are destroying the planet and the animal kingdom.
And zebra in “The Inevitable” symbolises NET cancer (the zebra is a symbol for the NET (neuroendocrine) Cancer worldwide). I did this painting as a tribute to a very dear friend who fell victim to the disease.
Actually, you do a lot of charity work. You have been donating proceeds from the sales of your paintings to the NET Cancer Foundation Norway and the Danish Society for Nature Conservation. How did you start doing this?
I simply want to contribute, to be a good person. A gallery in Copenhagen invited me to participate in the Fight Cancer exhibition in 2018. The moment I received the invitation I instantly agreed to take part in it and offered my painting for the charity auction. The proceeds from the sale went to the exhibition, and to the research foundation studying this form of cancer. I donated the money in the name of my friend.
Also, environmental issues are very close to my heart: formerly, I had the freedom to travel with my husband, but I am no longer fond of it, as airplanes harm the environment. I cycle instead of driving a car. I try to recycle as much as I can, I repair instead of throwing away, I buy mostly second-hand clothes. We do not eat lots of meat, but if we do, we make sure that it is organic and free range. I hate wasting food. We are obviously concerned about the impending climate crisis.
How did you start combining poems with your paintings?
I have been always collecting words, I love words! I love their meaning, I love their melody. There is a passion in the paintings and in the poems, they relate.
I have a particular love for the English language -- for example I can listen to Harry Potter read by Stephen Fry for hours! It sounds like music to my ears when he reads. As a collector of words, I feel inspired by them, sometimes they would strike you and set the imagination working, like the phrase "dancing in a starling sky". I think it is so beautiful. And when something strikes me, I am like a sponge, taking in every minute detail of what impresses me: colour, sound, mood.
And what is the process of painting for you?
It is quite therapeutic: my inner struggles come out through it. For example, some characters with closed eyes stand for an inner conversation and internal meditation-like dialogue. I often have inner conversations with my deceased father who committed suicide in March. The painting “Denial” is a conversation with him, which still continues.
And the paintings are more than just paintings -- there is a connection between the image and the poem. I cannot paint until I have the poem first: I do not know what colour palette or mood the painting is going to have until there is a poem there. So, poetry and painting have a symbiotic relationship in my art practice.There is a piece of my soul and heart in each one of these poems, too. Often, people relate to that, recognising their own stories in my works, some even become very emotional. I had wonderful experience while dealing with people and their responses to my paintings. Someone told me that I was very brave in expressing all my pent-up emotions. I had some very rewarding conversations and was told amazing, unexpected and occasionally some very personal things. And this response, this feedback became a great motivation to me as an artist.
After your successful debut in London what happens next? Any new exhibitions and projects for us to look forward to?
Yes, definitely. On my return to Denmark I am starting a new collaboration with the popular Danish rock band Kashmir. They gave me permission to use their lyrics in my new upcoming series of paintings. Their verse is deep, existential, profound and I adore their songs. Several (up to four) paintings from that new series will be exhibited at Helligaandskirken (the Church of the Holy Spirit) in Copenhagen -- one of the city's oldest and biggest churches-- from 7th February 2020 onwards. I am looking very much forward to this new show!
It will be followed by an exhibition in Gallery Saphere Aude (the gallery which represents me in Denmark) opening with the performance of Kashmir, which is going to be their first reunion performance in 10 years!
I am also currently working on my book Conversation, featuring paintings and poetry from the eponymous series and provided with some stories as background for my works. Hopefully, I will complete the book by Christmas.
Finally, I am preparing an exhibition which addresses my concern about the treatment of nature and animals, especially by the food producing industries. I hope to return to London with this exhibition next year. I am currently looking for a new representation in the UK.
Until my return it’s possible to view my exhibition in virtual reality here: https://my.matterport.com/show/?m=x1k9QZsxsc1&fbclid=IwAR377ZJ6ujV8f2E7QVk5AcT7EYcSdLIbAuYyHjHswet_dAtyWTdE5RJDJMs
At flyve, at falde og finde sig selv
Anmeldelse af Tom Jørgensen,
kunstanmelder på Jyllands Posten,
redaktør af Kunstavisen
At flyve har i såvel højlitterære digte som i popsange altid været forbundet med drømme, håb og frihed. En vægtløs tilstand af lykke. Også herhjemme. Tænk bare på Christian Winthers ”Flyv fugl! Flyv over Furesøens vove”. I Danmark, og det er måske typisk for os, har vi imidlertid også den knap så frihedsøgende ”Flyv ikke højere end vingerne bær´/hold dig ved jorden præcis hvor du er”.
Ligesom for at understrege janteloven: at man skal fandme ikke tro, man er noget.
Det er nærliggende at komme ind på alt dette, når man ser på Lisbeth Lundas malerier. Ikke kun, fordi de er befolket af svævende kvindelige væsener, men også med tanke på Lisbeths livshistorie – som hun selv eksplicit kommer ind på i kataloger og på sin hjemmeside. En livshistorie fra det nordligste Jylland tilbragt i et lukket og religiøst samfund, hvor skyld og synd spillede en altdominerende rolle, og hvor afvigelser ikke blev tålt. Ikke de bedste opvækstbetingelser for en følsom og rebelsk sjæl. Efter en mangeårig karriere i reklamebranchen begyndte fortiden atter at trænge sig på, og i 2017 besluttede Lisbeth Lunda at sige arbejdet op og springe ud som kunstner. Hun har altid tegnet og malet, og der var noget, der skulle ud af systemet. Noget, der skulle bearbejdes.
Resultatet ser vi her. Malerier med fællestitlen ”Conversations”. Samtaler med hende selv – og med os beskuere. Samtalerne kommer til udtryk som et maleri med et tilhørende lille tekststykke. Kvindeskikkelsen ses i tre udgaver svarende til de tre livsstadier: ungdom, voksenlivet, alderdommen eller fortiden, nutiden og fremtiden. Den første med struttende bryster og flyveører. Den sidste med alderdommens slukne og hængende hudfolder.
Den nøgne overkrop er forbundet med en underkrop i form af en kjole, som kan ligne de abstrakte mønstre i guld, vi bl.a. finder hos en Gustaf Klimt.
Kombinationen af billede og tekst giver hvert maleri sin egen følelsesmæssige stemning. I nogle hersker optimismen og håbet, i andre ensomheden og fortvivlelsen og i andre igen ungdommeligt overmod, stille resignation eller vred trods. Dyr og planter spiller en vigtig rolle i markeringen af billedets grundstemning, ligesom farven angiver, om vi er i dur eller mol.
Rent malerisk har Lisbeth Lunda fundet en balance mellem stram grafisk opbygning og drømmende lyriske passager, men det er billedernes følelsesmæssige udtrykskraft, man først lægger mærke til. Byggende på private erfaringer bliver malerierne almenmenneskelige i deres budskab. De har noget på hjertet, og vi bliver ramt. Ramt, fordi vi genkender disse følelser og disse stemninger fra os selv. Det er bevægende kunst.
Lunda i Kulturen på P1
I forbindelse med KNÆK CANCER udstillingen i Galleri Bredgade i 2018, blev Lunda interviewet af "Kulturen" på P1. Hør eller genhør podcast her.