(featured photo is ‘Tree Pantomine’ by Rita Kernn-Larsen)
It’s another Sunday Museum post! But this one is going to be a little bit different – I’m just going to be sharing with you some photos of paintings and illustrations, mostly, from an exhibition I went to at the Louisiana showcasing surrealist artworks by women (including big names like Frida Kahlo and my personal favourite – Remedios Varo)!
If pictures of paintings is not your cup of tea, no worries, I’ve got plenty of museum posts that showcase others. Also, my camera is annoyingly bad at taking photos of paintings – so some of these images may be a bit blurry. But if, like me, you are fascinated by art and perhaps take an interest in surrealism, I hope you will keep scrolling to see what this fantastic exhibit was all about.
I am the first to admit that I don’t “know” anything about art. But I love the way that artistic expression stretches the human imagination, I love that art is a creative process, I love that art is a narrative, and, well, I also like how it reminds me that the human brain is a weird, beautiful, and profound place. I often walk around worried that everybody else is normal and that I’m not – and art can be a real consolation in that respect. It helps me understand that I am not necessarily a lone weirdo in existential free-fall, but rather that the world is full of weirdos, each of us bound to one another through shared yet unspoken passion, sadness, frustration, rage, dreams, nostalgia…and that we are all here with something to say, something to express, no matter how little, big, trivial, or meaningful our message, and no matter how quiet or loud our voice. That moment of connection and understanding when I recognise that shared experience in art moves me. Just how certain artworks evoke these feelings seem totally mysterious, yet at the same time artworks demystify life for me as well – as if a clearing fog, art presents immortal, priceless, and lucid moments that stand out in the nebulous tangle of human experience. But enough from me on my personal take on the value of art – it’s one of those things I might ramble about forever.
Anyhow, I feel like this exhibit really ticked all the boxes for me – all these aspects of art that keep me going back to museums and galleries. It was really inspiring to see some of these pieces. Even though I’m no artist, the sudden feeling of inspiration, and wanting to create something, is just so rare and wonderful. I can only hope I can return to these sources of inspiration for time to come. What are your sources of inspiration?
Below, I’ll leave you with some of my favourite works displayed in the exhibit – ones that I found thought-provoking, strange, funny, or just nice to look at. As usual I tried my best to credit the artist.
It’s another museum Sunday post, and I’m thrilled to share this great place with you today!
Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, situated near Humlebæk (a 40-minute train journey from Central Station Copenhagen) is worth a visit for the forest and proximity to beach alone. It definitely helps that it so happens to be an awesome museum as well – a complex of glassy halls surrounded by forest and an outdoor sculpture gallery. It makes for a great day out, with an immersive indoor-outdoor experience, and there was also some experimental live music outside when I was there! I saw a wonderful exhibit here on surrealist women painters, which I’ll post about separately on next week’s Sunday museum. For now, I’ll share the outdoor sculpture gallery and natural settings alone – you’ll see the place is quite vast with lots of different scenes to view when walking about. I especially loved the silver balls (?) floating around in the museum garden pond.
If walking around for a good few hours admiring European art sounds like your idea of a good time, SMK may just be the place for you. It’s not necessarily my favourite museum, or the most impressive collection I’ve seen – but the way this place was designed to be experienced has something of a Danish vibe to it. Maybe something like hygge. So as a leisurely indoor activity this place does not disappoint.
I personally like to check out the major museums in cities I visit, so of course SMK (The National Gallery of Denmark) was on my list. I think the museum shop and cafe are themselves worthy of a visit – I like how good Denmark is at making their cultural spaces attractive and places that are pleasant to really hang out in! The glassy modern extension in the museum building that houses the sculpture gallery is lovely too – you’ll see below where the newer architectural style meets the old. As usual, I’ll let the photos do the talking.
If you missed the first post I made on ARKEN, make sure you check that out alongside this one 🙂 In this post I’ll share with you some snaps of ARKEN’s outdoor sculpture park/garden! It was a beautiful walk on a sunny day.
Oh, and the cafe in ARKEN overlooking the sculpture park was pretty cool as well, I’ve included photos of the place towards the bottom of this entry. I felt like I stepped into an architecture and design magazine (I feel that way quite often in Denmark actually…)!
I mentioned in my previous post that I will be doing Sunday museum posts from now on (until I run out of museums to post about, I guess…) and I think many of you will find this one interesting!
ARKEN is a museum for contemporary art in Ishøj, a short 30 minute train ride from Copenhagen Central Station. You’re greeted with a ceiling of jellyfish cut-outs as you walk through the funky museum shop (appropriate since the building is right next to a beach), as you will see below. I noticed lots of families and their kids wandering about the museum, which made sense because the exhibit was about animals in art – and there were plenty of colourful and eye-catching works to keep the little ones entertained.
It’s definitely a nice half-day trip from Copenhagen which you could stretch out into a full day if you visit the beach afterwards. I’ll show you more of the outdoors around the venue in Part 2, next Sunday, but for now, enjoy the exhibit 🙂 As usual, I have indicated the artist responsible for the work below each photo where possible.
Remember that cool food market – Reffen – that I posted about? Just around the corner from Reffen is a contemporary art gallery – Copenhagen Contemporary. The gallery is housed in a really cool warehouse setting. I just loved the open space and high ceilings. I got absolutely soaked head to toe with rain this day, and trailed around the gallery carrying a good five pounds of rain-soaked clothes, but it was still awesome to explore a new place.
This is the first museum I’ve visited since moving to Copenhagen, and it was definitely a good one to start with. It features the personal collection of Carl Jacobsen (son of Carlsberg Breweries’ founder) and contains a large selection of ancient Mediterranean sculptures, as well as French impressionist paintings. The building itself is quite lovely. It’s got a lush tropical indoor courtyard, for one, and lots of skylights leading the way up to a rooftop terrace with an entertaining view of Tivoli amusement park rollercoasters (you can see people getting flung in all directions).
Also, in case any of you plan a trip to Copenhagen or this museum in the future – it seems like there is free entry on Tuesdays so you may want to double check for that 🙂
Bristol has this reputation of being the next best thing after London when it comes to desirable places to live in the UK. I’m pretty skeptical about that reputation. The supposedly “cool” features I read about Bristol are way overblown, like the fact that Banksy is from Bristol (most of his works in Bristol have been destroyed, by the way), that Massive Attack is from Bristol, that it’s “cheaper than London”, or that it’s a “diverse” and “multicultural” place (diverse or multicultural in terms of what?). Truth is it has its fair share of flaws like any other major city: it’s difficult to find housing, it has a homelessness problem, there are stark inequalities between neighbourhoods.
Having lived in the city for a number of years of course gives me a different perspective compared with that of a non-resident or tourist. But I’m also surprised at how unsentimental I feel about Bristol now, despite having left the city under such exceptional and bittersweet circumstances. I mean Bristol really is the place I’ve lived the longest since legally turning into an adult. I had many Big Life Moments in Bristol, like getting my PhD there. And so many people I care about and have extremely close and meaningful relationships with still live in Bristol. In the past year especially I was really “finding my way” and gaining important experiences in terms of my career and relationships – despite many mishaps.
In the end, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I had to deport myself out of the UK with no chance for proper goodbyes thanks to the ongoing lockdown. You’d think it would feel like leaving part of my heart behind. You’d think I’d agonise about the “what ifs” I never got to live out on account of everything. But no. I only cried tears of joy because I felt like I finally arrived when I made it to Denmark, having spent the last couple of months in Bristol feeling like I had somewhere else to be, yet nowhere to go and no chance of going. When I finally got out, it was as if I was released from some kind of purgatory. I’d been futilely waiting for answers to questions people still stuck in the UK have to ask themselves constantly – “What is my immigration status? Will I or won’t I get in trouble with the Home Office?” Still, my ambivalence about Bristol is not merely down to this hassle. I think I had my moment of “I’m ready to leave Bristol” for a pretty long time now, like way before this new chapter in Denmark materialised. But how did that feeling come about? I’m not sure.
It makes me think a person’s relationship to – and experience of – a place has more to do with the meanings a person happens to attach to that place, rather than about any ‘objective’ feature about it. You won’t love a place just because it ticks a bunch of boxes. You won’t hate a place just because it doesn’t. And while it’s certainly true that we can measure the “good” of certain places with lots of factors, I think a person’s physical placement in the world really is like an intimate relationship. It’s a type of relationship that is not only characterised by lofty ideals (like when people buy a one-way-ticket out to big cities to make their dreams come true), but also by one’s being embedded somewhere physically, spiritually, and in Time (like if I were to say, “I am a true Bristolian now”). Of course, there’s lots of reasons and explanations for why a person may come to be in a particular place. Yet how a person makes do with that place, how a person fits in with that place, and the veering back and forth between love, hate, and everything in between for that place – that seems to me as inexplicable as the constancy between pairings of significant others through thick and thin. There’s always an X factor when it comes to how we end up seeing, being, and treating ourselves in different parts of the world. Any thoughts?
Well, maybe I’ll save that topic for another day. I can’t believe I’ve just become one of those people who feels compelled to share some banal life story just to share a couple of pictures, ha ha. But I do still want to mention some things about Bristol that really did grow on me. I can’t complain about the food scene (if you ever visit – do ask me for recommendations for places to eat), the lovely aerial views you get in different neighbourhoods thanks to all the hills (though I hated the actual hills), the Harbourside on a sunny day, the circus artists you see juggling or slacklining in basically every green space, the fact that people play psytrance of all things on the boombox in family-friendly parks, the general celebration of creativity and artists around the city, and the cool/weird/wild music scene and night life enjoyed by most age groups without shame (inexplicable 4am bonfire raves in the middle of the street and all – if you live in certain areas).
Now, one place I do think brings together some of the likeable elements of Bristol quite nicely is North Street in Bedminster. Bedminster is a neighbourhood fairly close to the Harbour. It houses plenty of pubs, restaurants, and cafes – on a “normal”, nice day, the place would be teeming with people (I guess in the UK a nice day is just one that doesn’t rain and isn’t impossibly chilly). I even used to work at the Tobacco Factory Market, which hosts some of the best food stands in Bristol and is one of the liveliest place you can be on a Sunday afternoon in the city.
Even during a lockdown, the length of North Street is a great place to explore because there’s so much street art to look at. Normally every year in summertime it plays host to Upfest, the largest street art festival in Europe, which explains the particular abundance of murals in the area. Last year a Greta Thunberg piece was commissioned by the Tobacco Factory which went on to get approval from Greta herself and garner worldwide attention. I’ll share below a couple more pieces that I spotted on North Street. I’ve identified all the artists responsible for these wonderful murals, so do check them out as well.