Where do you come from?

Posted on April 26th, 2010 in English, Texts

“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.