Posts in the category

Vestre Landsret – site specific

Commission work at Danish Court, Vestre Landsret, Viborg/DK.

See more of the installation here.

Vestre Landsret - installation view

Posted on August 26th, 2015 in News
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Solo show at Galerie MøllerWitt, Christiansgade 18, Århus.

Opening – 18 January 4 – 6 pm
Exihibition – 18 January – 16 Ferbuary

Press release.

Posted on January 13th, 2013 in Exhibition, News
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Posted on November 5th, 2012 in Editions
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Where do you come from?

“WHERE DO YOU COME FROM?” a talk between Trine Boesen and Uta Grosenick in 2006

Published in Paintings, catelogue by Trine Boesen, 2006 

UG: When I first saw your work in 2004, I was very fascinated by your paintings that seem to pull the viewer into a tunnel of fiction and fairy tale. At the same time they reminded me – which is maybe not very polite to mention – of two other painters, who don’t have very much in common with each other and probably not with you as well:
The German Franz Ackermann and the American Lisa Ruyter. While Ackermann’s works combine the external reality of a location with the artist’s subjective feelings about different cities around the world, which he refers to as “mental maps,” Ruyter’s works stand in the tradition of Pop Art and focus on everyday scenes painted in bright unreal colours. What is your approach to your work?

TB: My approach? I look at the stuff that is in the world that I’m placed in. Then I try to transform what surrounds me onto the canvas, and like Ackermann, with subjective interpretations. I try to make images of us and of the time we live in. I focus on a reality that might not look very real, for example by mixing between different art directions.

UG: Ackermann makes sketches in form of a diary during he travels and later transforms them into huge paintings. Ruyter takes photo snapshots herself and paints her canvases after them. How do you proceed?

TB: Mostly I use the photos as sketches. It could be my own private shots of things, buildings, parties, travelling, persons that I know or images found on the internet, or from commercials, magazines, books and so on. I collect images from anything and from anywhere. The images of course have to give me some kind of meaning, symbolic, visual, graphic etc., anything that makes my inner film running. When I start a painting I usually have a main idea and from there it develops from out of all the material that I have collected. I transform the photos into drawings and then project these drawings on the canvas, where I play with them and give every single motive/object a whole new order.

UG: Can you describe the “time we live in”? How do you change this “time” in your paintings? Are they showing a more colourful life than we live in or do they transmit a more menacing environment than we experience in reality.

TB: I think we live in a time where almost everything is possible, reality is far beyond what one could ever imagine, the information flow and mass communication is heavier than ever and we are very “global”. Our time is very dynamic, very planned, very ambitious, very chaotic and very much filled with contrasts. The polarity is pronounced in both a positive and a negative way. I don’t try to change “our time” in my paintings, I try to capture it. Sometimes life seems sugar coated, but it doesn’t mean that it tastes good every time you take a bite. That might be the menacing in some of my work. My use of colours is a tool to express certain energy, feeling, state of mind or atmosphere. Together with the all figurations they seem very insisting/powerful. It is a way to bring the common sense into another light and to reflect this world. I have just turned up the volume.

UG: In a short text that you wrote in 2003, you say: “There is always more than one reality.” Do you try to bring these different realities together?

TB: Yes, I work with the idea of duplicity of life. I question how we perceive the world, we live in and how we make it make sense. I think reality has more than one level. A dream is just as real as the place I buy groceries in. We have a physical world we all agree on and then we have a mental world that’s very individual. I try to bring these things together, side by side. That is also why I use figurations that we know. It is not hard to get the viewer to believe that the outline of a car or a can is a car or can. We know the symbol/idea of “car” and “can” and understand it very fast, but when you put the car inside the empty can it’s a whole different story. Then you don’t know, if the car is very small or the can very big and what does it mean? Everything I use in my painting is culture or nature taken from physical life, things everybody more or less known and then I twist it in the connection with other objects/figurations. My universe always has a lot of different stories, objects, symbols and so on that point in more directions, but still make the whole picture come together.
I work with the idea that everything happens simultaneous. Like in the movie “Short Cuts”, where people are running in and out of each other’s life without knowing it and how one fortuitous action can start an avalanche that changes life for everybody in different ways and no one know the connection. This is one way to explain the parallelism that I try to bring into my work.
The white drawings are often very concrete, representing the “real world”? Or is it the surroundings that are more real? I think that my work is some kind of mirror for the existing society as well as psychological reflections.

UG: What do you tell the viewer of your paintings? Should he dive into his fantasy world and forget about the daily small and big problems. How does someone get the colourful beauty that you create into his boring everyday life?

TB: I see my work as a hybrid of everything around me and inside me. Thereby it is also a hybrid of everyday life or at least my reflection/impression. Of course I know this is not what everyday life looks like when you look out of the window, but if you turn your eyes towards your self you might recognize some of the stuff I express in the paintings. I think, I have come quite far, if the viewer disappears into an imaginary world for a while, by looking at my paintings. I also think it is very important to let go of your troubles and routines once in a while. Free the mind and open up for other possibilities.
“Colourful beauty” as you describe my work, I use as a way to seduce the viewer and to twist the wicked and cynical details that my work definitely also is made of. The colours and the energy might attract you, but when you take a closer look, something else sometimes appears.
UG: Skyscrapers are a motif that you use in many of your paintings, what do they symbolize for you beyond urbanism of the 20th and 21st century?
TB: Skyscrapers fascinate me because of their enormous scale and the closeness they are built in. It’s like, from a distance it looks like one big organism that shows no human signs, if you didn’t know that it was made for people by people. I think skyscrapers are like anthills. It is not until you are in the middle of it that you feel the action and the million lives inside of it. So when I use the image of those kinds of buildings in my paintings, they symbolize some kind of chaotic cosmos that’s actually very structured.

UG: The “reading” of an airplane between the skyscrapers has turned from technical progress into a claustrophobic nightmare. Do you play with such shifts?
TB: Yes, I do that a lot. Power plants that float on an explosion of beautiful stars, giant butterflies and roses in nice warm colours that make you feel safe. It always goes more than in one direction for me. Even if I’m scared and alienated by the technical revolution, I am also a part of it.
UG: Do you work up current catastrophes of humanity or socio-political problems in your images? I try to imagine what the canvases you will paint in the future will show.
TB: I don’t work with catastrophes of humanity. I see why you ask. There is a lot of blackness and cynical tension in my work, but it walks hand in hand with beauty and innocence. I’m not picturing a nice fairy-tale-world with a happy end nor judgement day. There has always been evil in humans, it’s in our nature. I guess, we try to get rid of it, but it is not that easy. That’s why it exists in my images, but not as the end of humanity. I am very interested in the problems between good and evil in a socio-cultural way. But to be honest, I don’t know how future canvases will develop.

Posted on April 26th, 2010 in English, Texts

Trine Boesen og Sommerfugleeffekten

Af Kirse Junge-Stevnsborg i 2006.

Udgivet i Paintings, katalog af Trine Boesen 2006.

Fortællingen om Chuang Tses drøm kan ses som billede på den dobbelthed, der reflekteres i Trine Boesens duale værk The Butterfly Effekt I og II. Fortællingen lyder, at Chuang Tse drømte, han var en sommerfugl, der fløj sammen med andre smukke sommerfugle og levede et bekymringsløst liv. Da Chuang Tse vågnede, spurgte han sig selv: “Drømte jeg mon, at jeg var en sommerfugl – eller er jeg en sommerfugl, der drømmer, den er Chuang Tse?” Denne refleksion over vores realitetsforståelse tematiserer Trine Boesen shopparajumpers i The Butterfly Effekt I og II.

Hvor det ene billede udfolder et vue over en storby, viser det andet billede et portræt af en kvinde med bil i byens udkant. I The Butterfly Effect I er storbyen i forgrunden grafisk tegnet i sort/hvid med tomme felter. Et stiliseret portræt. Bagved eksploderer byen i et farvevæld af planter, mønstre og symboler. En sommerfugl, en flue, stjerner, mennesker, en radiator, hænder med krydsede fingre og et svævende gebis, som med konturen af en storby-skyline på begge gummer, bider hårdt sammen. I The Butterfly Effect II er kvinden med bilen grafisk stiliseret og centreret på et stort tomt felt ved siden af to liggestole med en stor fugl. Heromkring eksploderer en storby, blomster, planter, veje, sommerfugle, helikoptere, en udfoldet schweizerkniv, gavebånd, hjul, en edderkop, et skilt med en bombe og et svævende sattelit-univers.

De to værker udfolder to perspektiver i eet – to optikker på storbyen, to mentale tilstande. I The Butterfly Effect I ser vi byen i fugleperspektiv, mens vi i The Butterfly Effect II ser byen fra pigen med bilens perspektiv – udefra, nedefra. Som i det middelalderlige perspektiv er billedelementerne ordnet efter betydning og symbolværdi alt efter størrelse og placeringer. F.eks. er billedernes naturelementer af dyr og planter på samme størrelse som husene. Naturen og de svævende elementer kan ses som billede på den aktivitet og det liv, byen rummer som en egen organisme. Umiddelbart ser billederne ud som kraftfulde og energifyldte udladninger af natur, der dikotomisk bryder med storbyens kontrollerede rum. Men ser vi nærmere på billederne, brydes den stereotype opdeling af natur og kultur af tvetydige og urovækkende elementer. Hvad er naturligt? Er mennesket separeret fra naturen? Er det menneskeskabte?

Skiltet med bomben, rækken med anonyme menneskeskikkelser, den store radiator (hvorfor er der så koldt?), gebisset som bider tænderne sammen (og er ved at fortære byen?), de forvoksede planter og blomster (nitratforgiftning?), schweizerkniven (hjælpemiddel til alle tænkelige situationer), hænderne med de krydsede fingre (er der brug for held?) og det sorte hul – det svævende sattelit-univers. Ses de enkelte elementer som symboler på sociale, psykologiske kræfter, bliver fuglen en person, der venter på kvinden (hvorfor?), edderkoppen et individ, som skiller sig ud fra sommerfuglene og helikopterne (anderledeshed?) og husene, planterne og sommerfuglen ses på flugt fra gebisset (hvorhen?). Noget er ved at ske, men hvad, forbliver et mysterium.

Som i den kinesiske filosof Kungfutses etiske socialfilosofi peger Trine Boesen i sit dobbelte værk, som i en lang række af sine andre værker, på, at alle handlinger og tanker har betydning. Kungfutses samfundsmoral foreskriver stræben mod “Yen”, den social dyd/dannelse som opbygger harmoni udfra idealet om, at man skal gøre mod andre, hvad man vil, at de skal gøre mod én selv. Hvordan recirkulerer vi handlemønstre? Kan sociale normer forskydes på et sted via aktivitet et andet sted? Trine Boesen lukrerer på Kungfutses idé om kausalitet og knytter via sin titel The Butterfly Effect I og II billederne til kaosteori og idéen om non-linearitet: En sommerfugls vingeslag i Kina kan sætte gang i en lavine på den anden side af jorden. Sommerfugleeffekten betegner et genkomment mønster af egen logik, som meteorologer i 1950’erne kortlagde af umiddelbart tilfældige/kaotiske fænomener. Disse fænomener dannede ved meteorologisk analyse over tid et dobbelt grafisk spiralmønster, der ligner sommerfuglevinger. I sine værker recirkulerer Trine Boesen den meteorologiske logik til Kungfutses sociale og mentale kausalitetslogik.

I sine værker stiller Trine Boesen spørgsmål til, hvad vi forstår som kaos. Hvordan er vi med til at producere fælles normer for kaos? Er kaos blot betegnelsen på en endnu ikke kendt form for organisering? Er definitionen af kaos kulturel? I de fem tidsbilleder The mind’s eye, Adventure in Wonderland, Don’t get straig’nt by reality, Concrete River og City Lights lader Trine Boesen som i The Butterfly Effect I og II umiddelbart stiliserede ordnede elementer konfronteres med et kaotisk himmelrum af tilsyneladende tilfældige hverdagselementer. Skønt billedelementerne kan opdeles taksonomisk i klasser, typer, arter – mennesker, dyr, blomster og planter, huse, artefakter og konventionelle tegn – lader Trine Boesen de to billedplaner (det stiliserede og det farvemættede) skyde sig asymmetrisk op mod hverandre i en egen logik. Elementerne væver sig ind i hinanden som kæder af ukontrollerede tegn, der peger videre frem mod nye tegn. Som i filosoffen Peirces lære om evolutionær tegnforskydning, hvor tegn skaber nye tegn i en biologisk evolution, og hvor udviklingen af mennesket er sammenknyttet til den kulturelle evolution, der udvikles sideløbende.

Adventure in Wonderland kan ses som en mental rejse og samtidigt et anonymt sociokulturelt portræt af byen. Et fællesbillede af materielle goder, tanker, handlinger, naturelementer, drømme og forskellige former for fællesskab. Et kollektivt ubevidste. Med en intenst rød farvedynamik gestaltes et univers omkring storbyen, komponeret af åkander og kloakrør, dartpile og kys, heste på flugt og maskindele, dødningehoveder og piskeris. Som betragter observerer vi en helhed på afstand, hvor figuration bliver fantasi, hvor realisme bliver hyperrealistisk, hvor futurisme bliver surreel, og det barokke bliver gotisk i en metamorfosisk proces. I The mind’s eye peger blikket tilbage på betragteren, idet et kvinde- og et mandeansigt kigger direkte ud af billedet. Betragteren bliver inkluderet i billedet og hvirvles ind i en urban jungle af drama. Betragteren tvinges direkte til at byde ind med egne associationer. Det ubevidste gøres manifest.

Trine Boesen henter endvidere i sine billeder symbolik fra taoismens naturforståelse og idéen om alle værende tings naturlige og indbyrdes orden. Er vores mentale verden af tanker og fantasi naturlig? Hvornår er noget reelt? Hyper-reelt? Surreelt? Artificielt? Som Julie Damgaard har pointeret i Om Trine Boesen, 2002, så leger Trine Boesen med vores optik, idet “et genkendeligt motiv “skævvrides” pludseligt af abnormale størrelsesforhold og vinkler, eller en semi-abstrakt figur transformeres på et øjeblik til en lampeskærm eller en telefon.” I Don’t get straig’nt by reality præsenteres vi for et billede af et højhus. Bagved eksploderer, som i Trine Boesens andre værker, symboler som svampe, sommerfugle, trafiklys, veje, natur, en edderkop, flagermus. Huset gestaltes som organisme. Som et portræt af en person. Er vi vidner til et mentalt billede på artificiel intelligens? Eller til et billede på eksperimenter med kemiske stoffer i “robotter” for at opnå naturlig intelligens?

Som i et zen-billede sammenfletter Trine Boesen modsætningspar (Yin og Yang partikler), der ordner verden binært mellem det gode versus det onde, det lyse versus det mørke, det mandlige versus det kvindelige. Men hun stiller samtidig spørgsmål ved denne dualisme ved at mikse de traditionelt positivt ladede (maskuline) elementer med de negative (kvindelige) til tvetydige udsagn. Værkerne Concrete River og City Lights er fyldt med maskuline versus feminine magttegn. I Concrete River er gaden, vi – som betragtere – befinder os på og kigger ind i billedet fra, som et dukkehuse for bruden (legen om det perfekte ægteskab). Absurd, humoristisk. El-piskerne er truende (kvinderoller eller køkkenchef?), helikopterne (flugten?), brudebuketten af svampe (spiselige/giftige?) og terningerne kastet i et tilfældigt slag. I City Lights sprænges massesamfundets forbrugerisme ud af storbyen i et flow. Gadelys, gavebånd, sommerfugl og læbestifter. Og selve byen ses vokse frem på stjerner og grapefrugter. Tomme huse, tomme tanker, tomme liv. Blikket på forestillingen om det mandlige versus det kvindelige genfindes også i flere af Trine Boesens andre billeder f.eks. i serien Strange Days, Strange Nights og Kids in the Mist. De tre billeder kan ses som storby-tableauer, der præsenterer et drama i tre akter over drømmen om den store kærlighed. Og hvor alt ikke er, hvad det ser ud til på overfladen.

Elementer af romantik er fremhævet med grafisk streg: en brud og intime kærestepar. Men disse billedelementer kontrasteres med signaler af vidt forskellig karakter: bl.a. dødningehoveder (det forgængelige), svampe (det muligt dødbringende/delirium), kronhjorten (den maskuline kraft), lightere (ild), en mystisk mand (faderen/forbryderen), puttier (løftet/det religiøse), kaniner (yngel), sommerfugle (feminine kræfter), edderkopper (fobi?), kloakrør (affald), et skilt med ordet Fear (advarslen), himmel i oprør (uvejr), junglevegetation (det ukendte/eksotiske). Alle tre billeder rummer hver sin egen metafor. Som i en tegneserie ser vi et fragment af en handling. Men vi har ikke mulighed for at bladre til tegneseriens næste billede. Vi fornemmer blot en række truende elementer, som knytter de tre billeder sammen sideordnet, metonymisk. I f.eks. Strange Nights holder kvinden en pude i sin hånd. Har hun blotlagt mandens ansigt? For i næste sekund at læne sig over ham med et kys? Eller for at kvæle ham? Kæresteparret i Kids in the Mist lader sig ikke distrahere af neonskiltet Fear. Angst for kærligheden, den mystiske mand, kaninhoben? Bruden i Stange Days repræsenterer ungpigefantasien om den eneste ene og muligheden for at være prinsesse for en dag. Men hvad repræsenterer dødningehovedet? Og hjorten? Er hjorten brudgommen og den maskuline kraft distraheret af sommerfuglene? Er hjorten symbol på borgerskabets ultimative jagttrofæ, et voldsemblem for mandlig dominans – triviallitteratur, hjortens flugt, det danske kaffebord?

I værket Oh Dear er hjortehovedet hængt op på væggen som et trofæ på et småborgerligt ornamenteret tapet. Hjorten er her hovedmotiv omgivet af en lang række billedelementer hentet fra Trine Boesens univers af symboler. Hjorten er pacificeret og objektificeret. Et billede på social magtkamp? Er hjorten taberen i et udefinerbart spil, stereotypiseret og fastlåst i en rolle? Repræsenterer hjorten her det feminine? Kun vores forestillingsevne kan slutte vores associationskæde. I Oh Dear trækker Trine Boesen på romantikkens idealisering af følelser og fantasi – hjortebilledet i salonen, det idealiserede portræt, hvor dyret fungerer som psykologisk tegn for mennesket, og hvor fabeldyret bliver billede på os selv. I Trine Boesens version er fabeldyret repræsenteret ved hjorten, det velkendte, konventionelle, trivielle, banale. Trine Boesen peger med sine dyr-menneskelignelser også på, at i dyreverdenen spores tegn på non-linearitet. Når dyrearter uddør eller undergår store forandringer, finder det sted udfra tilbagevendende mønstre. Når f.eks. rævebestanden er lille, forøges kaninbestanden. Flere kaniner betyder mere mad for ræven og derfor et øget antal ræve, der igen mindsker antallet af kaniner. Trine Boesen twister hele tiden betydningerne og vores symbolik (eller rettere: lader os som betragtere gøre det). Som i et opgør mod den romantiske digter fortæller hun historier, som hun ikke vil åbne, for at de ikke skal lukke sig om sig selv.

Trine Boesen peger på, at der aldrig er en sandhed – men at der altid findes flere niveauer, optikker, perspektiver, syn og historier. Som i Chuang Tses drøm reflekterer Trine Boesen i sine værker over skismaet i vores realitetsforståelse: Hvad er virkeligt/uvirkeligt? Hvad er organiseret/kaotisk? Hvad er parallelitet? Hvad er et billede/modbillede? Der er altid et billede bag billedet som i en postmoderne gåde, hvor betragteren inviteres til at dekonstruere de mangetydige billedlag – som Elisabeth Byre har sagt det i Solitude Standing in the Urban Jungle, 2004. Trine Boesens storbyunivers af forestillinger, dystopier og drømme kan sammenlignes med en myretue, hvor alt muligt sker. Man lægger ikke mærke til den før man står midt i den. Man begynder at forestille sig, at der er en helt lille verden inden i. Sociale normer og fællesskab, adfærdsmønstre og retsregler. En samfundsorden, der kan sammenlignes med en mental tankeproces, hvor hjernens celler kommunikerer med hinanden og skaber aktivitet, billeder og betydninger. Et mikrokosmos i makrokosmos. Når man roder i myretuen opstår kaos. Og et indøvet katastrofeberedskab aktiveres. Ganske som når mennesket tilpasser sig forandring eller agerer under stress gennem biokemisk justering.

Det kan være små ting i hverdagen, som kan sætte gang i en billed- og betydningslavine, fortæller Trine Boesen om sin arbejdsproces. Hun henter sin inspiration fra magasiner, musik, populærkultur, bøger, private fotos, film, kunstnere som bl.a. Louise Bourgeois, Raymond Pettibon, Andy Warhol, 70’erne psykedeliske billedeksperimenter og amerikansk feminisme. I sin kunstneriske metode trækker Trine Boesen på popkunstens sampling af tegn, men altid i et “skævt” møde af æstetiske sammenstød mellem det dagligdags versus det poetiske, det kitschede versus det smukke, massekultur versus borgerskabsemblematik. Humor og satire. Elementer af nyfiguration, ny sensibilitet og ny gotik er indpakket i et ekspressivt og barokt formsprog. Trine Boesens værker er både graffiti og muselmaleri.

Posted on April 26th, 2010 in Dansk, Texts

Trine Boesen and the Butterfly Effect

By Kirse Junge-Stevnsborg in 2006.

Published in Paintings, catalogue by Trine Boesen in 2006.

The story of Chuang Tse’s dream is useful for describing the duality reflected in Trine Boesen’s double work The Butterfly Effect I and II. According to the story, Chuang Tse dreamed that he was a butterfly flying with other beautiful butterflies and living a carefree life. When he woke up, he asked himself, “Did I dream I was a butterfly or am I a butterfly dreaming I’m Chuang Tse?” In The Butterfly Effect I and II, Boesen thematizes this reflection on our understanding of reality.

The first painting is a skyline view of a city, the other a portrait of a woman and a car on the outskirts of a city. In The Butterfly Effect I, the foreground skyline is graphically rendered in black and white with empty fields. Behind a stylized figure, the city explodes in a riot of plants, patterns and symbols: a butterfly, a fly, stars, people, a radiator, hands with crossed fingers and a set of dentures, teeth clenched hard, with the contours of a skyline on both gums. In The Butterfly Effect II, the woman and car are graphically outlined on top of a large empty field next to two deck chairs and a big bird, while all around is an eruption of city, flowers, plants, roads, butterflies, helicopters, an unfolded Swiss Army knife, gift-wrap ribbons, wheels, a spider, a sign with a bomb and a hovering satellite universe.

The two paintings unfold two perspectives in one – two views of the city, two mental states. The Butterfly Effect I is a bird’s eye view of the city, while The Butterfly Effect II shows us the city from the perspective of the woman and car – from outside, from below. As in medieval perspective, the size and position of the pictorial elements are determined by their significance and symbolic value. The natural elements, animals and plants, are the same size as the houses. Nature and the floating elements can be seen as images of the activity and vitality of the city as an independent organism. By all appearances, the pictures are clearly powerful, riotous bursts of nature dichotomically shattering the controlled space of the city. On closer inspection, however, ambiguous and disturbing elements are seen to be breaking this stereotypical division of nature and culture. What is natural? Are humans and human-made things separate from nature?

The sign with the bomb, the row of anonymous human figures, the huge radiator (why is it so cold there?), the clenched dentures (are they devouring the city?), the overgrown plants and flowers (nitrate poisoning?), the Swiss Army knife (a utility for any conceivable situation), the hands with the crossed fingers (luck is needed?) and the black hole, the floating satellite universe. Taking the individual elements as symbols of social and psychological forces, the bird becomes a person waiting for the woman (but why?), the spider an individual standing apart from the butterflies and the helicopters (otherness?) and the houses, plants and butterfly appear to be fleeing from the dentures (but whereto?). Something is going on, but what remains a mystery.

Like the ethical social philosophy of Confucius, Boesen’s two paintings, like so many of her works, indicate that all actions and thoughts are significant. The Confucian social ethics prescribes a striving for Yen, social virtue/manners building harmony based on the ideal of do unto others. How do we recirculate behavioral patterns? Can social mores in one place shift because of activity somewhere else? Boesen explores the Confucian concept of causality and in the titles, The Butterfly Effect I and II, she links the paintings to chaos theory and non-linearity: a butterfly fluttering its wings in China can trigger an avalanche on the other side of the planet. The butterfly effect denotes a recurrent pattern of singular logic that was mapped in the 1950s by meteorologists studying apparently arbitrary, chaotic phenomena. By meteorological analysis, these phenomena over time started forming a graphic double-spiral pattern resembling a butterfly’s wings. Boesen, in her work, applies this meteorological logic to the Confucian social and mental logic of causality.

Boesen’s work questions our understanding of chaos. How do we aid in the production of common norms of chaos? Is chaos merely the designation for an as yet unknown form of organization? Is chaos culturally defined? In five images of our times – The Mind’s Eye, Adventure in Wonderland, Don’t Get Straighned by Reality, Concrete River and City Lights – Boesen likewise contrasts stylized, ostensibly ordered elements with a chaotic firmament of seemingly arbitrary everyday elements. Though the pictorial elements can be taxonomically organized into classes, types and species – people, animal, flowers and plants, buildings, artifacts and conventional symbols – Boesen asymmetrically jams the two picture planes (stylized and color saturated) up against each other according to a personal logic. The elements intermingle like chains of uncontrolled signs pointing to new signs. Like the philosopher Peirce’s evolutionary theory of signs stating that signs create new signs in a biological evolution and human evolution is linked to the cultural evolution developing concurrently.

Adventure in Wonderland can be seen as a mental journey as well as an anonymous sociocultural portrait of the city. A collective image of material goods, thoughts, actions, elements of nature, dreams and different forms of community. A collective unconscious. In an intensely red color dynamic, a universe forms around the city made up of water lilies and sewer pipes, darts and kisses, fleeing horses and parts of machinery, skulls and eggbeaters. The viewer is observing a whole at a distance, as figuration becomes fantasy, realism becomes hyperrealistic, futurism becomes and baroque becomes Gothic in a metamorphic process. In The Mind’s Eye, a female and a male face, looking straight out of the picture, return the viewer’s gaze. The viewer is included in the picture. Whirled into an urban jungle of drama, the viewer is directly forced to ante up his or her own associations. The unconscious is made manifest.

Boesen moreover gleans symbols from the Taoist understanding of nature and the concept of the natural, reciprocal order of all being things. Is our mental world of thoughts and fantasy natural? When is something real? Hyperreal? Surreal? Artificial? As the art historian Julie Damgaard pointed out in About Trine Boesen, 2002, Boesen plays around with the way we look at things, abruptly distorting a recognizable subject by abnormal proportions and angles, in no time morphing a semi-abstract figure into a lampshade or a phone. Don’t Get Straig’nt by Reality presents us with an image of a high rise. Behind it, as in the artist’s other works, the picture explodes with such symbols as mushrooms, butterflies, traffic lights, roads, nature, a spider, bats. The house is gestalted as organism. A portrait of someone. Are we witnessing a mental image of artificial intelligence? Or an image of experimentation with chemical substances in “robots” to achieve natural intelligence?

As in a Zen image, Boesen intermingle pairs of opposites (particles of Yin and Yang), binarily organizing the world into good vs. evil, light vs. dark, masculine vs. feminine. But she also questions that dualism by mixing up elements that traditionally are positively loaded (masculine) with negative (feminine) elements to make ambiguous statements. Concrete River and City Lights are chockfull of masculine vs. feminine power signs. In Concrete River, the street we find ourselves in as viewers looking in at the picture, is a dollhouse for the bride (an image of the perfect marriage). Absurd and funny. Threatening eggbeaters (female roles or chefs de cuisine?), helicopters (escape?), bridal bouquet of mushrooms (edible/poisonous?) and randomly cast dice. In City Lights, mass society’s consumerism comes bursting out of the city like a broken dam. Streetlights, ribbons, butterfly, lipsticks. The city itself is seen to grow on stars and grapefruits. Empty houses, empty thoughts, empty lives. Similar takes on the concept of masculine vs. feminine are found in several other Boesen paintings, notably a series of three paintings entitled Strange Days, Strange Nights and Kids in the Mist. The series can be considered as urban tableaux, presenting a three-act drama about the dream of true love where everything is not what it would appear to be.

Romantic elements are accented in a graphic line: a bride, intimate lovers. Contrasting these pictorial elements are widely different signals, including skulls (vanitas), mushrooms (potentially lethal/delirium), stag (masculine forces), cigarette lighters (fire), a mysterious man (father/criminal), putti (faith/religion), rabbits (breeding), butterflies (feminine forces), spiders (phobia?), sewer pipes (waste), a sign spelling “Fear” (warning), a sky in turmoil (stormy weather), jungle vegetation (the unknown/exotic). Each picture contains its own metaphor. As in a comic book, we get a fragment of an action, but without the option of flipping to the next panel. We merely get a sense of a string of threatening elements tying the three pictures together coordinately, metonymically. Strange Nights shows a woman holding a pillow in her hand. Did she just uncover the man’s face before leaning over to kiss him? Or strangle him? The lovers in Kids in the Mist seem undistracted by the neon sign spelling “Fear.” Fear of what? Love, the mysterious man, the brood of rabbits? The bride in Strange Days represents the schoolgirl fantasy of true love and the chance to be princess for a day. But what does the skull represent? Or the stag? Is the stag the groom, the masculine force, distracted by the butterflies? An instance of the ultimate bourgeois hunting trophy, a violent emblem of male dominance – pulp novels, flight of the stag, the traditional Danish coffee klatch?

In Oh Dear, the stag’s head hangs like a trophy on a wall of ornate, petit-bourgeois wallpaper. The main subject, the stag, is surrounded by a long line of pictorial elements drawn from Boesen’s universe of symbols. The stag is pacified and objectified. An image of social power struggle? Is the stag the loser in an indefinable game, stereotyped and locked in a role? Does the stag in this case represent femininity? The chain of associations stretches as far as imagination allows. In Oh Dear, Boesen explores the romantic idealization of feelings and fantasy – the salon painting of a stag, an idealized portrait, in which the beast functions as a psychological sign of man and the fabled creature becomes an image of ourselves. In Boesen’s version, the fabled creature is embodies by the stag – familiar, conventional, trivial and banal. In her animal-human parables, Boesen points out that there are signs of non-linearity in the animal kingdom as well. Species becoming extinct or undergoing significant changes happens according to recurrent patterns. When the fox population is low, for examples, the rabbit population grows. More rabbits mean more food for the fox, increasing the number of foxes and, in turn, diminishing the number of rabbits. Boesen is always twisting meanings and our symbolics (or, rather, letting us, the viewers, do the work). Like a showdown with romantic poetry, she tells stories she does not want to open, because she does not want them to close in on themselves.

Boesen shows us that there is never just one truth, but a multitude of levels, lenses, perspectives, visions and stories. Like Chuang Tse’s dream, Boesen’s pictures reflect on the schism in our understanding of reality: What is real/unreal? What is organized/chaotic? What is parallelism? What is image/counter image? There is always an image behind the image, like a postmodern riddle inviting the viewer to deconstruct manifold, ambiguous image layers – as Elisabeth Byre put it in Solitude Standing in the Urban Jungle, 2004. Boesen’s urban universe of imaginings, dystopias and dreams can be likened to an anthill – there is a lot going on. You may not notice it until you are standing right in the middle of it. You start envisioning a whole world inside of it. Social mores, community, behavior patterns, legal rules. A social order comparable to a mental process of the brain’s cells communicating and fostering activity, images and meanings. A microcosm within a macrocosm. Stir up the anthill and chaos ensues. Carefully rehearsed emergency measures are triggered. Just like humans adapting to change or acting under stress by biochemical adjustment.

Small things in the everyday may set off an avalanche of images and meanings – that is how Boesen describes her working process. She gets inspiration from magazines, music, popular culture, books, private photos, movies, artists like Louise Bourgeois, Raymond Pettibon and Andy Warhol, ’70s psychedelic visual experimentation and American feminism. In her artmaking method, Boesen draws on Pop Art’s sampling of signs, though always in “offbeat” aesthetic clashes of the mundane vs. the poetic, kitsch vs. beauty, mass culture vs. bourgeois emblematics. Humor and satire. Elements of neofiguration, a new sensibility and neo-Gothicism wrapped up in an expressive and ornate formal language. Trine Boesen’s works are equal parts graffiti and tile painting.

Posted on April 26th, 2010 in English, Texts

Things that matter a lot

Group Exhibition at Gallery Christoffer Egelund, Copenhagen.

Exhibition – 19 March – 10 April 2010.

John Kørner, Nina Saunders, Theis Wendt , Benny Dröscher and Trine Boesen.
Curated by Trine Boesen.

Press Info


Posted on March 11th, 2010 in Exhibition, News

What about an explosion

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Posted on March 4th, 2010 in Selected works

Ghost II

Posted on March 4th, 2010 in Selected works

Ghost I

Posted on March 4th, 2010 in Selected works

World Without End

Posted on September 11th, 2009 in Installations

Confetti for the people I

Posted on May 11th, 2009 in Selected works

Confetti for the people II

Posted on March 11th, 2009 in Selected works

Rainbow for sale

Posted on March 5th, 2009 in Selected works

Tourist Ghetto

Posted on March 4th, 2009 in Selected works

Bouncing on Clouds

Posted on March 4th, 2009 in Selected works

The Spell

Posted on March 11th, 2008 in Selected works

Agave Amerikana

Posted on March 4th, 2008 in Selected works

Mind Read Me

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Posted on May 11th, 2007 in Selected works

The Wish

Posted on March 11th, 2007 in Selected works

My own private ripp off. No. 4

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Posted on March 11th, 2007 in Collage

The Fall

Posted on March 11th, 2007 in Selected works

I should have loved you better

Posted on March 11th, 2007 in Selected works

Golden Garbage

Posted on March 11th, 2007 in Selected works

What palms in a pot can do to you

Posted on March 11th, 2006 in Selected works


Posted on March 11th, 2006 in Selected works

Temptation,- mother me

Posted on March 11th, 2006 in Selected works


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Posted on March 11th, 2006 in Selected works


Posted on March 11th, 2006 in Selected works

Darkness walks in and out through your head

Posted on March 11th, 2006 in Selected works

Hej Society

Posted on March 11th, 2005 in Installations

Flowers Crack Concrete



Posted on March 7th, 2005 in Installations

We are Really Cats

Posted on March 7th, 2005 in Selected works


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Posted on March 7th, 2005 in Selected works

Strange nights

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Posted on March 7th, 2005 in Selected works

Red view

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Posted on March 7th, 2005 in Selected works

Oh Dear

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Posted on March 7th, 2005 in Selected works

Butterfly Effect I

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Posted on March 7th, 2005 in Selected works

Butterfly Effect II

Posted on March 7th, 2005 in Selected works

Kids in the mist

Posted on March 7th, 2005 in Selected works


Posted on March 7th, 2005 in Selected works

Don´t get straig´ned by reality

Posted on March 7th, 2005 in Selected works

Concrete River

Posted on March 7th, 2005 in Selected works

City Lights

Posted on March 7th, 2005 in Selected works

Adventure in wonderland

Posted on March 7th, 2005 in Selected works

The Girl (Tripticon)

Posted on March 7th, 2004 in Selected works

The Couple (Tripticon)

Posted on March 7th, 2004 in Selected works

The City (Tripticon)

Posted on March 7th, 2004 in Selected works

Another Real World

Posted on March 7th, 2004 in Selected works

Trine Boesen is not a pop-artist

By Julie Damgaard. 2003

Trine Boesen is not a pop-artist. While she does lift existing images from their original contexts and places them in new compositions, she never does this without first manipulating these images. To simply identify her pieces with advertising, consumerism and mass communication would be to miss the point and to completely overlook the many unusual layers and subtle narratives that exist within her pieces. While it might seem that she varnishes her work with pop, the priming consists of something other, that being the gothic, and in here lays its significance and its strength.

Trine Boesen tells stories of the heart. She feeds materials from magazines, books, photos and films into her internal database which in turn provides the picture surface with its iconic motifs. Through the coordination of a variety of signs, she sketches out a parallel world of energy, tempo and fantasy which draws the spectator into a mixture of solemn awe and cheerful surrender, and in a magical way speaks of the overload of symbols and elements that forms the world- that we every day bring into order and use to systemise our individual lives.

Order and chaos exist as two concrete levels which push themselves towards each other. This integration leaves behind its imprint on both elements, and as a result, what was once a recognisable motif suddenly becomes twisted by an abnormality of scale and angle, or by a momentary semi-abstract transformation of a figure into a lampshade or a telephone.

In the art of Trine Boesen, the graphic drawing is neither more real nor fictitious, meaningful nor illogical than the coloured explosive space. One can, via the only partly coloured images, speak of a level that is both present and empty, but even with this definition one has to be careful. The whole space of the picture possesses a brilliance of presence which comes as the result of the dynamism, action and aggressiveness of the drawings. Trine Boesen has recently underlined this presence through the lines’ transcendence of the surface in combination with an artistic incorporation of the surrounding space. Pop-up figures attached to the paper, drawings done on the wall and a doormat placed in front of the picture are strategies that provide a conspicuous tactile physical presence.

With a sweeping gesture, the spectator is invited into Boesen’s filmic universe. One now exists – in the best science fiction style – as the main character in a divided space in which, as in gothic art, the central motif and its surrounding non-figurative sphere are skilfully arranged in relation to each other, and where the proportions gets distorted by the mystical euphoria of storytelling. The raw central field in the picture exists in a miraculous moment, open for the spectator’s input and interaction, and like in the reifying, concrete reality, s/he is invited to make a selection in order to mix a colourful, exotic cocktail.

translated by
Jon Lewis & Maibritt Rangstrup

Posted on April 26th, 2003 in English, Texts


Posted on March 7th, 2003 in Selected works