Dear Cleo 18 05 04

Dearest Cleo

Writing is as time related as art, recently the doing has been overtaking the writing in a kind of Pulp Fictiony way, your mum can explain. I missed seeing you at the weekend because I went on the Study visit to Copenhagen. I met lots of new people, some I had known virtually beforehand, and I learned lots of new things and I hope that by the time you have read this you will forgive my absence.

Figure 1 Smoking area Stanstead ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 2 Airport lounge ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 3 Queue for plane ink on A5 cartridge

My arrival in Copenhagen was a little bit rushed as I already had to be somewhere else before I landed. I speedily checked into my hotel, they never said on the internet that my room was five floors up in the attic and they didn’t have a lift, but it was clean and warm and bright and the staff were helpful, so that I almost didn’t notice the stairway to heaven the whole trip.

I headed off to the guided tour of the SMK National Gallery where I met up with the rest of the group. The tour concentrated on the current exhibition but before the start proper the guide touched on some of the problems of curatorship and how galleries were unable to sell things off and were responsible for preserving their artefacts. I have never spoken to gallery staff before and didn’t realise the importance of the work they do.

When the tour started proper we concentrated on the gallery’s current exhibition “Art in the making”, curiously and fascinatingly the exhibition was focussed on the collaboration of artists in their ideas for their work and the development of the initial ideas through the sketching and squaring up process, the tracing and redrafting and finally arriving at the final painting. Of particular interest to me was how, through their working processes, artists juggled with the composition changing the balance and tension in their work. Most of the changes of course took place in the thumb nails and early sketchbook work but there were some quite radical changes between the final cartoon and the finished piece.

One of the main things that interested me was that two of the Danish artists in the exhibition Edvard Weie (in 1941) and Nick Larsen Stevns      (before 1941) both of whom were influenced by the fauvist works of Matisse, were both using cut out pieces of paper as compositional aids, it was not until the late 1940’s that Matisse began “introducing a radically new operation that came to be called a cut-out”, a collaboration of artists that was perhaps overlooked by the exhibition.

The guided tour ended in front of Kirstine Roepstorff’s enormous Desolation of the Beasts with the curator highlighting the collaboration between Roepstorff and earlier artists.

After that we were free to wander the museum’s permanent collection for the remainder of the afternoon and what a collection, amongst the collection of Matisse’s work was the Green Stripe and I was particularly taken with the cubist works by Picasso, Braque, Metzinger and Gris, I spent a long time in front of Trees at Estaque.

The gallery also had a fine collection of Danish paintings. Since discovering the Italian Impressionists on a trip to Florence I am interested to discover what each nationality’s art was whilst the French were dominating the art world. The Danes did not disappoint with Hammershoi leading the field as an amalgam between Vermeer and Manet. I found the drawing room and spent a happy time sketching the magnificent bronze horse head.

Figure 4  horses head graphite on A6 cartridge

Figure 5 Street outside Riz Raz ink on A6 cartridge

The group reconvened before closing time at the Gallery to arrange to meet later in the evening for dinner at Riz Raz. We ate great food and talked of art and other things until late in the evening and I sketched the roses on the table as I drank the last of the wine before going up the very long wooden hill, exhausted after a great day.

Figure 6 Day of wine and roses ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 7 Girl smoking in a bar ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 8 Drinkers in a bar ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 9 Drinkers in a bar 1 ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 10 Drinkers in a bar 2 ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 11 Bicycles morning ink on A6 cartridge

The next day I woke with the early Danish light and met with the group at Norreport Station for the trip to the Arken Museum. We were lucky in having Inger from Denmark with us to teach us how to deal with Danish trains, We had been joined overnight by Bryan the tutor who took it upon himself to explain some of the vague stuff that is hard to get to grips with from reading books, discernment with examples is easy to understand, we also talked about the assessment procedure and our own processes, each learning from the other.

From the outside The Arken, a modern building, was long gallery that seemed to cut through the dunes and wet lands like a ship trailing a long wake.

Inside were vast four storey high spaces that somehow through the use of large windows that capturing the outside light gave an airy feel to the spaces. The permanent exhibition consisted of around ten pieces by Damien Hirst that seemed at home in the large slightly curved gallery.

In a second gallery the floor was covered with multicoloured life sized clowns created by Ugo Rondinone titled Vocabulary of Solitude you could walk among the clowns each one feeling separate and alone and silent. There was a feeling of being backstage at the circus, almost like Degas’ ballerinas, the clowns were pensive, awaiting their turn in the big top.

In a more conventional gallery space there was a retrospective exhibition of Alfonse Mucha, for this we had a guided tour. The exhibition consisted mostly of Mucha’s Poster and commercial work and photographs he took of his models. In the workshop that followed, we were invited to create a Mucha poster, I made the drawing below, there is a faint graphic underdrawing that has all but disappeared below the ink work, and I think I managed to achieve a sense of rhythm with the flowing lines.

Figure 12 Poster girl ink on A2 cartridge

The discussion on the train back to Copenhagen was as lively as on the way to Arken and we each went back to our hotels before reconvening in the evening to eat dinner seated around a triangular table where we talked of many things, of art and education, toilet roll and Kings. Particularly interesting was Gwyneth’s description of her process of painting her giant boulder.

We reconvened early the next morning and took the train up the country to the Louisiana Museum. Again we had a guided tour by a curator of the gallery who explained the building and how the foundation of the permanent collection was derived.

Figure 13 Sculpture park ink on A6 cartridge

The museum grew from a manor house with sculpture in the garden to include a series of long glass walled extensions so that you could see the sculptures from inside the building, the galleried Giacometti room overlooking the pond was stunning, the Yayoi Kusama installation was breathtaking and the Cindy Sherman’s were everything I ever wanted them to be. The current exhibition, held in a more conventional gallery space, was of Picasso’s Ceramics. I don’t think I have ever seen any of his ceramics’ before but I think i would have remembered if I had, some were functional, but many were wildly distorted and the array of colours was dazzling.  I have seen a video in black and white on you tube of him making some of them but in real life even the monochrome ones are Technicolor.

Then it was time for the last lunch together we discussed our impressions of the day and the weekend which were all very positive, except for the reality of my own five storey stairs and we went our separate ways, but not without more art related discussion on the train back to Copenhagen.

After we separated I went to the Ny Glyptotek, which, with its winter garden easily won building of the weekend. The Danes seem to have a thing about glass and airiness with regard to buildings and when the weather is good like it was the whole weekend, the glass buildings are spectacular.

Figure 14 French eagle ink on A6 cartridge

I visited the French collection 1800 to 1928 and the Danish golden age galleries, viewed a full set of Degas’ sculptures and a roomful of Rodin’s. There was only one Cezanne still life, but it allowed me to look close into his brush mark’s to see how the modelling matched the words in the book I am reading by Earl Loran. I missed the crew to discuss my impressions of this in the cafe

I am not the biggest fan of sculpture, but sculpture somehow had seemed to tie the weekend together, from the statues in the SMK to the cage with mirror, rocking horse and Gormley outside the Arken, Hirst’s cows, ecorche and the clowns inside, the sculpture park and the Giacometti’s at the Louisiana and then finally the Degas’ and Rodin’s at the Ny Glyptotek.

Figure 15 Girl in a bar ink on A6 cartridge


Figure 16 Drinkers in a bar 3 ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 17 Drinkers in a bar 4 ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 18 Girl in a bar 2 ink on A6 cartridge

On Monday morning I went to draw the boats at Ny Haven before catching the plane home.

Figure 19 Boats 1 ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 20 Boats 2 graphite and ink on A4 cartridge

Thank you very very much to Hayley, Therese, Anna, Asa, Bryan, Caroline, Celia, Gwyneth, Inger, Joanne, Linda, Cecillia Sybille, Deidre and Renata for a beautiful and educational long weekend in Denmark.

You now know where I was, what I was doing and why I wasn’t there for you on Saturday, I’m really looking forward to seeing you this weekend.

My love as always

Mikos xx