The four paintings and ten drawings were created by Jesper Christiansen in 2017–20 for the exhibition ‘De fire årstider’ (The Four Seasons) at Odsherred Art Museum.
In these pieces Christiansen explores and displays the countryside around Odsherred, where he lives and works. The artist only began to work with landscapes in 2014, but ever since, he has been fascinated by nature and its ever changing character.
Summer surprised us …
The painting Summer surprised us … shows a gently undulating landscape with corn fields, trees, Odsherred Art Museum and a blue sky. In the lower right-hand corner is a small red garden tractor, while the left corner has quotations in white letting referring to T. S. Eliot’s ‘The Waste Land’. Like the other pieces in the exhibition, Summer surprised us … is a slow, elaborate work of art.
Christiansen found inspiration for the composition in the work of the 18th-century painter Nicolas Poussin, who worked in remarkable scales. For example, in Summer surprised us … the corn stands unusually tall in comparison to the garden tractor. Colour has set the terms for the story, as the red garden tractor brings an important complementary colour to the piece.
References and associations
Christiansen’s works possess an unusual degree of detailing with quotations from literature and music incorporated into the landscape scenes. Due to the rich detailing they require calm and patience from the viewer. With a black grounding as the base for the paintings, the image lights up against the dark background, unfolding a long sequence of associations that the viewer is invited to find meaning in.
Christiansen often works in series, focusing for a time on a particular motif or group of topics. Several of these series draw on literature, with references present in the depicted images, the symbolism and the title. His works for the exhibition ‘De Fire Årstider’ draw in part on the Danish writer Martin A. Hansen’s novel ‘The Liar’, which was written during a stay in Odsherred. Other paintings contain references relating to the local area, for example Malergården (Painter’s Farm), the former home of the artist family Swane and now a part of Museum West Zealand.
Touring Odsherred by bicycle
Odsherred Art Museum is dedicated to Denmark’s fourth artist colony, the Odsherred Painters, which included Karl Bovin, Kaj Ejstrup, Lauritz Hartz, Ellen Krause, Viggo Rørup and Victor Brockdorff, among others. During the 1930s, they turned their backs on Copenhagen and abstract painting and settled in to Odsherred to paint landscapes. The group was successful in putting naturalist painting back on the agenda.
Similarly, Christiansen left Copenhagen for Odsherred, and on bicycle tours of the area he has developed an interest in landscape painting. His paintings both update and supplement the museum’s collection of works by the original Odsherred Painters.
About Jesper Christiansen
Jesper Christiansen (b. 1955) graduated from the Royal Danish Academy in 1988, where he was subsequently a professor, from 2003 to 2008. He is represented in a number of Danish museums, including ARoS, KUNSTEN Museum of Modern Art, SMK – National Gallery of Denmark and Trapholt. Among other accolades, he has received the Eckersberg Medal (1999), the life-long honorary grant from the Danish Arts Foundation (2009) and the New Carlsberg Foundation’s Artist Grant (2013).