Architects create spaces, but so does visual artist Kaspar Bonnén. In his own description, his works of art are like ‘playful versions of what it’s like to construct spaces – including inner, human spaces’. In this way, common aspects of the creative mental space of art and architecture are tied together in Kaspar Bonnén’s art at Aarhus School of Architecture, which was completed in December 2022.

As maps of our inner mental space, these expansive works of art offer a break and a source of inspiration for creative architecture students, who are invited to delve into the multiple dimensions and rich detailing of the art. 

The pieces are part of a larger donation from the New Carlsberg Foundation to the new school of architecture in Aarhus. Kaspar Bonnén’s paintings are hung in the canteen, while the works of the other artists – Maria Wandel, Erik A. Frandsen, Anna Bjerger, Kirstine Roepstorff, Armin Boehm, Poul Pedersen, Cathrine Raben Davidsen, Ib Geertsen and Asmund Havsteen-Mikkelsen – are on display in the school’s five project rooms.

Inspiration from raw workshop atmosphere

The raw concrete walls of the School of Architecture are cast in-situ, an aspect Kaspar Bonnén addressed directly by letting his paintings extend over the walls in the Brutalist space. Around windows, doors and shifts in level, the art unfolds with varying colour intensity and expressiveness.

The building’s raw workshop atmosphere inspired Bonnén to engage in a playful, organic process, foregoing detailed drafts. In a comment, he expressed his hope that the decoration will inspire the students to feel free and unburdened by the uncertainty he recalls from his own student days. 

Students often feel a pressure to be on top of every aspect of their studies and to live up to a host of demands, says Bonnén. His art aims to remind the school’s staff and students that small and seemingly insignificant everyday stories and drawings also hold value in relation to study projects and assignments.

The new school of architecture in Aarhus

In the summer of 2021, Aarhus School of Architecture relocated from Nørreport to the site of the former goods railway yard, which is becoming the city’s new creative hub. The goal was to bring education and research together in one raw, flexible and open building with a workshop feel in order to promote an explorative and experimental environment for the development of future architecture.

The building is organized around simple basic rooms with wide spans and industrial details – an expression that matches the urban environment around the school.

About Kaspar Bonnén

Visual artist Kaspar Bonnén (b. 1968) was born and raised in Copenhagen and graduated from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in 1999. His practice includes a diverse range of media, such as painting, installation art, text and computer-based art. His art often has a personal or biographical content, like his latest, critically acclaimed, book bag om min far (my father in depth).

Bonnén has held solo exhibitions at ARoS in Aarhus, Brandts in Odense and Moderna Museet in Stockholm, among other places, and is represented in several museum collections, including Arken and SMK – National Gallery of Denmark.