Danish painter Anne Juul Christophersen’s enigmatic paintings have gathered admiration internationally. I first met her at an exhibition opening in London, instantly connecting with both her painting and Anne’s own warm and bright disposition. Following the adventures of her main figure, a young girl, you are taken on journeys through wild and magical places – places which remind us of lost childhoods and forgotten memories waiting to be reclaimed.
As a child, I grew up on a small farm; since I was young I’ve [felt] the connection between animals, nature and us – people – who believe we are special. But in reality, we are only a small piece of the bigger natural landscape.
Over time, I learned that this way of seeing the world is very similar to the historical world view of indigenous peoples and their approach to life, which can broadly be described by the term paganism.
Over the years, the wish to work deeper with this subject matter has grown in me.
This month, Anne Juul Christophersen is exhibiting a host of new paintings in her upcoming solo show ‘Connected’ at Galerie Wolfsen, and I had the privilege of chatting to her about it.
“The journey to this solo exhibition has been a winding road, where coincidences really played their part.” Anne shares, “The exhibition was originally planned to be in London. Quite by chance the gallery began renovations and I could immediately see that there would no longer be enough room to exhibit my paintings. Once I’d made the decision that the exhibition would not be in London, I called gallery owner Kent Wolfsen from Galerie Wolfsen.
Right away, Kent was ready to exhibit the paintings here in Denmark – we both agreed [to] find just the right place to present the exhibition. Perhaps in a forest? …We started looking, but as chance would have it, none of the places were right. In true Goldilocks style, nothing quite fit with what we were looking for… Until Kent and I looked at each other: shouldn’t we hold the exhibition in the gallery? [After that] the ideas poured out. What if we took the forest – the entire natural landscape, in fact – and placed it inside the gallery? Perhaps we could make a kind of tableau where we could present my book, also coming out at the same time as the exhibition? And what about displaying the sketches, the work process, as well? And we simply have to drink champagne at the opening.
There was no doubt that the exhibition finally found its home in Galerie Wolfsen’s legendary gallery space. It felt good, it felt right.”
Anne Juul Christophersen: Connected
Opening Reception: February 29, 2020 | 11am – 2pm
Tiendeladen 6, 9000 Aalborg | Denmark
For additional information and purchase availability please contact: [email protected]
Full of energy and raw love for nature, Anne’s works exude a power which resonate with so many, building a connection to the paintings which her collectors can never quite put into words. Adding to the magic, ‘Connected’ opens at Galerie Wolfsen on the very special leap year date: Saturday, 29th February 2020.
On finding out that Galerie Wolfsen wanted to open her exhibition on this date, Anne felt it was more than pure coincidence: “It’s said that leap day helps us to bring our creations to life and our ideas out into the physical world.” Anne explains warmly. “The day gives us the opportunity to ‘jump through time’ and thus to catch up with ourselves. To experience 29 February is almost like wandering through a special portal, which is only open once every four years. I got that feeling of randomness and synchronicity.”
Making the connection reality
Anne Juul Christophersen’s exhibition took over a year in the making. Working on both the paintings and creating her debut book, this experience has shaped Anne in ways she hasn’t expected:
“My affinity for our planet and everything that exists here on it has grown and is now an integral part of me. Working on the exhibition has taught me to clearly distinguish between what is important and what’s not.
Over the past year, being able to settle into this connectedness has helped me to live more and love more. For the first time in my life, I’ve really found my home.
This provides infinite peace.”
It is clear that Anne’s affinity with nature is celebrated in every one of her paintings. They invite you to step through the invisible barrier existing around us created by modern day living, be one step closer to the realities she paints. By stepping through, breaking that bubble, we take the first step to being more aware – more connected – to the vast beauty of life which is always at our fingertips. Whether in the city or the countryside, there are always simple adventures to seek and enjoy, from a moonlit night to the rustle of autumn leaves at our feet. She invites us to take time out from our usual lives: to sit and enjoy the sunbeams, to wonder what lives within that hole, or walk the long way through the park and gain peace from the birds singing in the distance. All the better to delight in our imagination, and make these everyday moments all the more magical.
Though many of her works invite interpretation, Anne’s paintings do share elements of her own childhood. One such piece is Kredsens Løb. “When I was a child, we lived on a small farm out in the country in Djursland, northeast of Aarhus. Our neighbours were my aunt and uncle, and their farm lay right beside a bog. It wasn’t forbidden to play by the bog, we just weren’t allowed to walk out into it; it was a fantastic place.
In the winter, we could skate on it. It was fun and cold, and painful when your knee landed hard on the ice. But for me, the best thing was indisputably the frogs. Everything about them: their croaking on long summer nights. The mix of fear and joy when you held them in your hand. Their amazing ability to jump. Most of all, their eggs – tiny tadpoles inside, the tadpoles themselves and the moment when they suddenly developed small legs and arms. It was a complete life cycle in record time.
The evenings seemed to go on forever, there at the edge of the bog. Bare feet and with wet trousers, and the sunlight that never went away. For me, this is the embodiment of summer and thus natural to include in my summer painting ‘Kredsens Løb’.
A childhood memory, lost
“While I played with the sketch for the painting, I received some sad news. The most magical, most powerful place from my childhood had fallen down. The Flint House (‘Flintehuset’) was standing no more. It was a small, abandoned stone house in true Gingerbread House-style, which lies in Horstved Skov woods, barely three kilometers from my childhood home. How we knew it was there, I don’t know. It was children’s wisdom, handed down. All around the house, weather and time had left their mark on the woods, and huge tree trunks had fallen.
While I played with the sketch for the painting, I received some sad news. The most magical, most powerful place from my childhood had fallen down.
Miraculously, none of them had ever hit the house. When we stood in front of it (next to each other; we were never brave enough to go out there alone), the stillness of the place would creep up on us. It’s like you were sucked into the house’s dimension – [one] which didn’t operate on quite the same frequency as the rest of the world outside. It was a strange, joyful and incomprehensible feeling to stand there in front of the Flint House. As if you were standing over some deeper understanding, which somehow escaped one’s consciousness.
And now it’s over. The house is no longer standing. Perhaps the energy still remains in the ruins, but I don’t know for certain; I haven’t managed to make myself visit the house (yet). For now, I have chosen to capture the Flint House, possibly for the very last time, in my painting ‘Kredsens Løb’. We’re born, we live, we die. And that’s the way it goes in the cycle of life.”
Connected: solo exhibition and book release
‘Connected’ at Galerie Wolfsen will also be celebrating Anne Juul Christophersen’s book release of the same name, which takes you through the entire journey leading up to the exhibition.
”You join us on our journey to Boscastle and be there as I paint every single painting.” Anne explains. “You get a glimpse of my work process, both internal and external. And you also get the Fable: a fairy tale with the girl and the bear as protagonists. It’s all braided together and still somehow in the right order, exactly like life.”
The 200-page hardback book will be available for purchase directly from the publisher Galerie Wolfsen, from 29th February 2020.
As we end our conversation, Anne brings up an important quote by Albert Einstein, which she shares and resonates closely with her. As such, it felt right to leave you with this too, as you enjoy Anne Juul Christophersen’s paintings.
A human being is part of the whole, called by us universe, a part limited in time and space.
Man experiences himself, his thoughts and his feelings as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us.
Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. – Albert Einstein