Printmaker & Gallerist
In (frequently interrupted) conversation on 8th July at Number #3空间, Chengdu
DT: This is the rabbit that Lars drew on our wall for this exhibition. It will be gone by next week.
KL: Does someone take out an eraser and [mimes erasing bunny]?
DT: I don’t know. Maybe we should record that - the making and the unmaking.
KL: I think you should just take the whole wall out with a sledgehammer.
DT: I told him maybe we are going to drill in it and put the wall somewhere.
[Donal runs off to talk to possible buyers about prices and we begin to chat with Lars.]
KL: What brings your exhibition to Chengdu?
LR: I’ve got some friends who live in Chengdu, Danish friends. I’ve been coming to China since 2008 as an artist making some group shows and I’ve also been doing some teaching and stuff like that.
KL: Teaching art?
LR: Yeah. And then, last Autumn, I met this beautiful Chinese girl, she is from Xiamen.
[Another interruption, does Lars remember the price of this piece? Donal returns.]
KL: Let’s move on from the bunny. We’ve done the bunny.
DT: Lars thinks that art should be accessible to everyone. This is why he simplifies his language and makes it a bit cartoonish. This has to do with his printing practice. Printing is all about making an idea very clear. It's not like painting where you are looking, searching inside the painting and slowly finding. In printing, you need to know before you create.
KL: I guess it’s a reductive technique.
DT: Exactly. We have three rooms, two in black and white and one in colour. [smacks his leg] And mosquitoes.
KL: How much are they?
DT: What do you mean? Are you being a Chinese art buyer? Ah! Mosquitoes! I thought you were talking about the paintings! A lot of people come and say, how much is this?
KL: As we have seen. In that vein, tell me which one is best by price.
DT: By price? The coloured one that you were looking at.
KL: That’s the most expensive one? I like it. I feel like it’s got a Lars von Trier film feel to it.
DT: I don’t really like watching movies.
KL: [laughs] You’re a really great interview, you know? Has anyone ever told you that?
DT: [laughs] This series was made in 1988. It was made in Madrid. When a printmaker or an artist wants to make prints, he has to work with artistic workshops because he doesn’t have the machines, it’s a lot of equipment. A lot of the themes in here are related to Spanish culture, for example, this Saint Bartholomaios who is the guy who was skinned by Muslims in 800 AD because he believed in Jesus. I don’t remember all of the names but it is related to Madrid and Spain and Spanish culture.
KL: But not entirely in a religious way?
[Lars returns to pick up the thread].
LR: Before I started coming to China, Spain was the country that I visited most. I quite liked the culture there when I was younger but when China opened the doors for me it became much more interesting.
KL: Does that mean you have changed now to cover more Chinese themes in your work?
LR: Well I have. You can see the poetry on the invitation where I try to explain myself.
KL: I couldn’t read it.
LR: [laughs] Okay. So I just tell my name and tell that I’m an artist.
KL: And everyone will believe you.
LR: But all the Chinese love it.
KL: Because there is a lot of work here from different periods in your artistic life, do you consider it a retrospective?
LR: It is a retrospective.
KL: Going through it yourself, as an artist, do you see it as development or do you just see change?
LR: I see both. It makes me kind of happy.
KL: There’s definitely an erotic nature to a lot of your work but in a very natural, almost domestic way.
LR: Well, I am from the Nordic free culture.
KL: So everything comes easily?
LR: It’s quite easy.
KL: This piece is obviously very striking, slightly disturbing. Do you want to tell me a little about it?
LR: Well, I was in love at that time, myself with a girl that became the mother to my children. We were both young and trying to find out what was going on and I think that’s what the picture expresses.
KL: The woman in the picture looks extremely independent and self-assured compared to the man, is that some kind of reflection of the state at the time?
LR: It could be. I was a little bit insecure how to do things in the beginning and, in some respects, I still am because love is always new, isn’t it?
KL: It is or it’s very quickly old.
LR: I prefer to see it new.
KL: Ah! You’re a romantic!
LR: If you say so. I don’t know about these definitions. [laughs]
KL: So, what about the knives?
LR: That’s because at that time I was very involved in the punk scene in Copenhagen and one of our most famous punk bands has the song line where the knives are cutting deep in the night and I just liked that as poetry.
KL: It moved you and it made you think of your relationship?
LR: Sort of but, in those days, I just liked the sentence. Knives are cutting deep in the night. It’s poetry. So, I made my pictorial representation of that line which I put on top of the story.
KL: These pieces here with the ladies, are they from the same period?
LR: They are much later but I’m really not stuck being interested.
KL: In ladies?
KL: Most people don’t change their mind once they go there.
LR: That’s true.
KL: These have a strange advertising quality to them.
LR: You could say so, about the milk, for instance. It makes you healthy.
KL: There’s even something about her pose that makes me think of those 1960s ladies magazines.
LR: [laughs] You saw it in them as well?
KL: It seemed vaguely familiar.
LR: Well, I can’t lie then.
KL: Does a lot of autobiography run through your work or is it sometimes purely concept or something that interests you visually?
LR: I think a lot of my work reflects my life. My life and my art are very tightly bound together and I insist on keeping it this way. My life first and then art on top of that. So I have my personality but I don’t feel like I have any style that I have to protect. I have a life to live first.
KL: So, you feel that the style of your different works comes organically from the life that you lead and it changes?
LR: Exactly because I learn things and I learn things and in time when I learn more Chinese then slowly my pictures will develop again.
KL: You’ve got a mixture here, and please correct me if I’m wrong, it looks like you’ve done some kind of printing and then gone over it with coloured pencil?
LR: It’s a print all the way through.
KL: Really? Alright, explain this technique to me.
LR: It’s the same technique I use in these ones as well and this one. You make a film for each colour that you use so they are all black and white what you’re looking at. When you look at them and see, oh this is a yellow one, you have to imagine the yellow colour. And then this other one is a blue so you imagine what it will look when you put them together.
KL: How do you get the textural effect that almost looks like brush strokes?
LR: Not really secrets these things can happen when you’re into the process there are a lot of things that just come naturally but then, how to explain it is something different. It lies in the nature of the graphic process.
KL: I find it quite amazing. I really love printingbut I’ve not seen anything that has emulated painting and pencil so convincingly as this. I’m intrigued.
LR: Thank you. I’ll take it as some encouragement.
KL: So this is a commercial work?
LR: It is because it is a poster for one of my own exhibitions.
KL: Have you ever done any commercial work?
LR: I can't recall just now but I have been working for companies but it has been more like they had an area where I could do something artistically it was not really commercial.
KL: It was more of an opportunity…
LR: To create something…
KL: Without restriction.
KL: Are these lino cuts?
LR: That is a linoleum cut.
KL: Are all of the pictures in this room lino cuts?
LR: This one is but the others are cut in turnips.
KL: What? Big ones. Oh, I see you get the actual shape. Oh, wow. Would you have an idea and tailor it to the turnip or would you find a turnip which suited the idea?
LR: I was living on a farm in the countryside back in Denmark and I grew my own vegetables and stuff like that and also turnips because they’re quite healthy. Then I came up with this idea that I could also use it for printing.
KL: Are they fairly starchy? I remember doing potato printing when I was a little kid and it was so hard to get good transference.
LR: Yeah, it was difficult.
KL: It is a very satisfactory result.
LR: Thank you, First I had to put the seeds in the soil and then I had to grow them and I had to harvest them.
KL: This is one hundred per cent your toil?
LR: Except that I did not do the printing myself. I had someone to print for me.
KL: That’s shameful. I wouldn’t admit that if I were you [laughs].
LR: Well, I've always had people to print for me because I'm a painter and I have a studio where I paint. I don't have the equipment to do professional printing so I go to a print shop. And the woman who printed these, she was my assistant for a short period but before that, she was a skilled cover printer. She is skilled in printing. When I do sculptures in ceramics I also go to a workshop where they are professional in doing that. It's very common, at least in Denmark.
KL: I’m sorry I have this image of you pushing a wheelbarrow full of turnips [laughs].
LR: [laughs] I’m also a professional artist as well.
KL: So this is a retrospective of purely your print works?
KL: Are you a permanent resident here in Chengdu?
LR: Not yet.
KL: But you plan to be?
LR: I’m working on the possibility.
KL: Because… love?
LR: Yeah well, I think she wants to live in Xiamen but we’ll have to find out what happens in the future.
KL: What was the plan for putting on this retrospective?
LR: The plan was in fact that I should have had the show in another place but I had an appointment with them and it turned out that they were not of much help. It turned out they were commercial in other fields than art so, at the end of the day, I found out that it was too difficult to do by myself. Then the same day I decided that not even knowing how because I had left all my stuff out there, I met Donal and we had a good talk and I could tell he had an artistic feeling about what was going on. Not all this business, business, business so I was quite happy and he had an empty period so we decided that I could use that empty period.
KL: Excellent. I don’t know how long you’ve been here but do you have a sense of the art scene in Chengdu?
LR: I have no idea about the art scene in Chengdu [laughs].
KL: [laughs] Any last remarks?
LR: Thanks for coming.
KL: It was my pleasure.
Paint as you like , and die happy.
— Lars Ravn
Born in 1959. Autodidact.
Active on the Danish art scene since 1980.
The chairman of Corner Artist Association.
2015 年 “崩塌的另一边”于丹麦哥本哈根In The Gallery 画廊
2014 年 拉尔斯·兰-回顾展于丹麦Kolding 艺廊。
2010 年 “自由的兔子”个展于中国厦门旧雨今来轩画廊。
2009 年 拉尔斯·兰-回顾展于丹麦锡尔克堡美术馆。
2006 年 “神树和其他的神明”于丹麦哥本哈根Bredgade 艺廊。
2006 年 ”孤掌难鸣”个展于丹麦Odsherreds 美术馆。
2005 年 ”孤掌难鸣”个展于丹麦哥本哈根Baggårds/Garageudstilling。
2004 年 ”体会身体的风景”于丹麦哥本哈根Carsten Frøkjær 画廊
2003 年 个展于丹麦霍尔森斯Franz Pedersen 画廊
2000 年，“拉尔斯·兰 – 油画,速写雕塑”展于瑞典Tomarp Kungsgård。
2016 年，“以水相连 包容共生”翔安澳头北欧当代艺术展于中国厦门。
2016 年，康纳美术家协会年度展于丹麦哥本哈根Sophienholm 城堡。
2015 年，康纳美术家协会年度展于丹麦哥本哈根Sophienholm 城堡。
2013 年，“曲折的艺术”展览于德国Stuttgard 和Kunstraum Neuruppin。
2012 年，展于Reykjavik 岛ASI 美术馆。
2012 年，“仁者乐山 智者乐水”—康纳与中国艺术家在丹麦锡尔克堡。
2011 年，“康纳和Rylen”展于丹麦Odsherreds 美术馆，Marstal 美术馆。
2012 年，“仁者乐山 智者乐水”—康纳艺术家在中国厦门美术馆。
2006 年，“Eks. Skolen mm.”于丹麦斯卡恩Tavi 画廊。
获得卡伊·尼尔森奖学金（Kai Nielsen 系加拿大著名哲学家）资助，Ebba Celinders
奖学金，Heerup 奖学金，锡尔克堡HOF 文化奖以及来自丹麦艺术基金会的津贴。
2013 年，创作壁画于丹麦哥本哈根图堡港（Tuborg Havn）海滨咖啡馆Le Café。
2010 年，设计玻璃装饰于丹麦Ikast 露台健身中心。
自1990 年起，成为The Artists' Society 组织的会员。
自2010-2013 年，丹麦Trapholts 美术馆董事会成员。
自2000 年起，成为康纳美术家协会会员；于2007 年开始参与管理康纳事务。
Selected Solo Shows:
2015 On the other side of collapse, In The Gallery, Copenhagen, DK
2014 Lars Ravn – Retrospective, Kolding Kunstforening, DK
2010 The Free Rabbit, Lanlan Gallery, Xiamen, China
2009 Lucked, Lars Ravn–Retrospective. Silkeborg，Kunstmuseum, DK
2006 A Tree in Heaven and Other Idols, Bredgade kunsthandel, Copenhagen, DK
2006 No one creates alone. Odsherreds Kunstmuseum, DK
2005 No one creates alone. Baggårds/Garageudstilling, Copenhagen, DK
2004 Senses Body Landscapes. Galleri Carsten Frøkjær, Copenhagen, DK
2003 Galleri Franz Pedersen, Horsens, DK
2000 Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture. Tomarp Kungsgård, Sweden
Selected Group Shows:
2016 Coexistence Connection—North European Contemporary Art Exhibition,
Aotou Village, Xiangan District, Xiamen, China
2016 Corner 2015, Sophienholm, Copenhagen, DK
2015 Corner in China 2015, Dalian Art Museum, Dalian, China
2015 Corner 2015, Sophienholm, Copenhagen, DK
2014 Artist Meeting – Vendsyssel, DK
2013 Zig-Zag, Stuttgard und Kunstraum Neuruppin, Germany
2012 ASI Art Museum, Reykjavik Island
2012 ”Seeing Landscape” Corner and Chinese artists at Art Center Silkeborg, DK
2011 Corner and Rylen, Odsherreds Kunstmuseum, Marstal Museum, DK
2011 ”Seeing Landscape” Corner artists at Xiamen Kunstmuseum, Fuijan, China
2011 Corner and other Danes, Fujian, China
2007 Feast of the book: No one creates alone. Baggårds/Garageudstilling,
2006 Eks. Skolen mm. Galleri Tavi, Skagen, DK
Awards and funding:
Received grants from Kai Nielsen Memorial Scholarship, Ebba Celinders
Scholarship, Heerup scholarship, Silkeborg legatet HOF's cultural prize and
several grants from the Danish Arts Foundation.
Represented on Danish and foreign art museums, including the National Gallery
of Denmark, Aros Museum Jorn, Vejle Art Museum, Trapholt, Moderna Museet,
Stockholm, Sweden and Jimei University Art Collection.
2013 Wall decor in Le Café, Waterfront, Tuborg Havn, Copenhagen, DK
2010 Glass Decorating, Patio - Ikast Gymnasium, DK
2009 Mural at the university in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia, China
Member of The Artists' Society since 1990, Member of the Academy 2001-2013,
Member of the Academy from 2006 to 2010, member of the Art Museum
Trapholts Board from 2010 to 2013, member of the Artists Association Corner
since 2000, the management of the same since 2007
1983-2007 Varaty og different art schols in Denmark.
2010. University of Jimei, Fujian, China.
2008- 2015 University og Inner Mongolia, Hohhot, China, Painting class at Art
The rabbit is often seen in Lars Ravn’s works. Again and again he returns to the
small vigilant animal with its merry sexuality. It is an appropriate animal for
signifying Lars Ravn's world. In his pictures there is an urge to keep the senses
open to the world. Man approaches the world through his mouth, nose, eyes, ears
and hands. No matter where we come from and to what culture we belong, we
have that in common. Sharing the sensory world is an opportunity and,
according to Lars Ravn, also an obligation. The fact that the work "No one creates
only" is painted jointly with Chinese art students during his recent teaching stay
at Hohhot Art Academy proves that actions underpin his words.
By _ Bolette Marie Madsen, Art historian M.A.
Email interview with Donal on 8th August
1. Who are you? (Where do you come from, what's your background, what do you do in Chengdu?)
My name is Donal Turner. I come from France and I studied my bachelor's degree in the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. Here, I am an art curator in my free time.
2. What's your gallery in Chengdu? How did it start? (and who do you do it with - what is their background?)
The story is funny and seems to revolve around a hotpot place! 青年火锅 was started by three friends. One of them, 张杨彪, is an art graduate. He took care of the place for 3 years, then sold his share to the other two founders and opened an art gallery located where 青年火锅 originally started. One evening in winter, I came to eat hotpot with friends, and during the meal asked who drew those two ugly bottles of beer on the wall. The waiter pointed to 杨彪, laughing and adding that an art space had just opened around the corner and that it was called #3空间.
3. Why start a gallery in Chengdu? (What was your motivation - was there a specific event or occurrence which motivated you? If so, share that)
Lost artists want to have a place to show their art. This was his starting point. The idea became clearer in May when I asked him whether I could use his space to make, as it turned out, a very successful photography exhibition. The people who came were very fond of the idea of having such a cozy, uncommon art space in town. They vividly encouraged us to continue. So we started looking for artists who were willing to show in our modest space. To our own surprise, we found quite a few.
4. Who are the artists whom you work with? How do you find them?
I must say we are very open to who we let have exhibitions at #3. We make no difference yet between 'high' and 'low' art and strongly relate to Andy Warhol’s “famous for 2 minutes” quote. Anyone who is confident enough can have their works displayed here. Some come to us, some are friends, for our last exhibition -Yearn- we invited two young sculptors who just graduated from a local Art University.
5. How do exhibits in the gallery change? How do you decide which artists are exhibited next, or what direction the pieces go in (if there is any)?
We make ourselves available. We organize people according to when they feel they are ready. So for instance, Guangdong artist Pamviles will have a painting exhibition on the 26th and Huyinpin a video exhibition on September 9th. Pieces that aren’t sold go back to their owners with care. Those that are ephemeral are destroyed.
6. What are your thoughts on the art scene in Chengdu? Are there many galleries similar to yours? If not, why do you think that is? Have you networked with other artists or curators much?
The art scene in Chengdu reflects the art scene in China. Art collectors are essentially investors who lack vision. They are pushing artists in the "mainstream" rather than encouraging its redefinition. And so most galleries I’ve seen around were huge compared to ours: places which looked cold and expensive. This gap and the fact we aren’t famous (yet) makes relating to bigger curators and artists difficult.
7. Any other artists or galleries in Chengdu that you can recommend, aside from those you're already working with?
I like to go to artist’s studios rather than going to galleries. There are two big artists villages that I know of around Chengdu, one is called 蓝顶画家村 and the other is 三圣村. Most artists there are very welcoming and open to talk.
8. I love the intimate atmosphere of your gallery. It feels very different from something like MOMA. Do you have any thoughts on curating a collection in such a small space, as opposed to larger venues?
In Paris, most art shops and galleries are only as big as ours. Call it nostalgia, but we are looking for the coziness of the shops and galleries along the Seine River, but also their taste and personality.
9. What do you think the future of Chengdu's art scene looks like? Is the situation improving? How are things changing?
Art in China seems to have become an old factory reconverted in a gallery. In Chengdu it is called 东郊记忆, in Shanghai m50 and in Beijing 798. It seems that a huge part of art has become the parody of itself, something kitsch that meets the expectations of its audience; not unlike the little revolutionary cups which can be bought in souvenir shops. However, I see some hope when I listen to people like friend and teacher 欧鸣 who teaches his student not to copy, but to feel.
10. Any other thoughts on your gallery or art in Chengdu or China?
We want more and more people to make an attempt at appreciating art, we give them the opportunity to come and discuss with the artists directly during exhibition opening parties. Those parties are usually on Fridays at 8pm... so come and enjoy art with us!