Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Art Space Talk: Mie Olise Kjaergaard

I was introduced to the art of Mie Olise Kjaergaard last year. Kjaergaard’s art is inspired by abandoned places and desolate spaces. She captures the essence of these spaces primarily through painting, but she also constructs models of wood and cardboard. She is trained as an architect and is interested in constructions, perspectives, and scales of places that have been left behind. In her work she asks, "What happened here? Did I leave it myself? Who left it? Why?"

Kjaergaard was one of the 4 finalists in the Saatchi Competition 4 New Sensations. She is considered by some to be a rising star in the London art scene. It has even been suggested that Mie is from the new generation of YBA’s. Kjaergaard has had a number of accomplishments since that time.

In 2007 Kjaergaard was selected as one of the 50 finalists in the Myartspace New York, New York Competition. The jury included James Rondeau of the Art Institute of Chicago, Jessica Morgan of the Tate Modern, and Steven Zevitas of New American Paintings. She is currently represented by Barbara Davis Gallery. This is the second interview I have conducted with Mie Olise Kjaergaard.
Rounded Bands High, acrylic and polymer on canvas, 36 x 24 in., 2008

Brian Sherwin: Mie, this is your second interview with Myartspace. During our last interview you had just found out that you were one of the four artists in Saatchi’s 4 New Sensations exhibit. Since that time you have had several accomplishments. For example, you were one of the 50 finalists in the Myartspace New York, New York 2007 competition. How have things been since then? Have you been involved in any other exhibits or competitions that you would like to mention?

Mie Olise Kjaergaard: I just had my first US solo show at Barbara Davis Gallery in Texas. Also, I was just accepted into the United Kingdom’s biggest juried Painting Competition John Moores Painting Prize at Liverpool Museums. Currently I am working on my up-coming show at Standpoint Gallery in London, alongside Mary Mattingly.

BS: I read that you have been awarded an ISCP Residency in New York for 2009/2010. Can you tell our readers about that residency?

MOK: It is an international residency, where people from all over the world come in to work. The program also contains guest critics, studio visits and they have a curatorial program. It is a great opportunity to meet people in New York while working in an atmosphere that is full of inspiration and possibilities. Only 26 artists are accepted each year, so it is an exclusive little crowd, and I can´t wait to start.
Twisted Wood from High Grounds, acrylic and polymer on canvas, 72 x 60 in, 2008

BS: During our last conversation you also mentioned an idea you had for your Saatchi 4 New Sensations project. You called it ‘Future of Place’. My understanding is that you planned to exhibit the project at Frieze. How did that go for you? Did everything go as planned?

MOK: It went really well, Barbara Davis discovered me there, and I got a lot of new contacts and friends.

BS: Do you have any updates about The Istanbul Project? You mentioned before that The Istanbul Project is a collaboration called The Triangle Project. The project involves artists from New York, Istanbul, and Copenhagen. Again, do you have any updates about that project?

MOK: They came to do projects in New York while I was working on my show for Barbara Davis. They are now planning on going to Istanbul again this autumn. I think I met a lot of interesting people through the project and hope I will have time to participate a little more.

BS: Since graduating from Central St. Martin's in 2007 you have lived partly in New York, Copenhagen, and London. I don’t believe we discussed this before… how have your travels influenced you? Do you absorb those experiences into your work, so to speak? For example, how does observing variations in architecture based on geographic location impact your thought process as far as your work is concerned?

MOK: Well, I actually don’t think the large cities I live in are very influential for my work. My work is very much remembered places, places that I build on to and create, on top of some ideas of places I have seen or been. I don’t build or paint a specific place.

This week I returned from the Arctic Circle, The Pyramid City, that I went to last year as well. The location is an abandoned Russian coalminers city that still contains furniture and other items left by the people who once resided there. It stands as an example of a utopia that fell to the ground. I went back this year to get into the buildings. This time I brought a film photographer who could help me make video and photograph. I differentiate between the images I paint and build and the images I film or photograph. What exists I will capture yet manipulate, and the other way around, what I paint is what I can´t “capture”. (smiles)

I am doing a lot of residencies in the next 2 years: Mallorca, Iceland, Tokyo, LA, Berlin, New York, I think this will inspire me a lot. The experiences will probably influence my work quite a bit.

Flying Trawler, acrylic and polymer on canvas, 120 x 72 in., 2008

BS: Speaking of architecture and the themes that you focus upon… has the direction of your art changed since last we spoke? For example, are you exploring any new themes within the context of your work? Or have you remained steadfast in your exploration of abandoned places and desolate spaces… and the questions that arise from those sources of inspiration?

MOK: The experience of finally finding my language has been quite strong. I have been working in so many fields, and to finally stumble on this obvious subject is still very magical to me – I grew up at a wooden ship, and at a sawmill, my dad built ships and wooden houses, we moved around and I have lived in many constructions during the years. In a way it is a mystery how it should take me so long to get to that.

At the same time nothing stands still. I think my work has changed because if you look at the paintings they have developed a lot. My last exhibition became more absurd, both in colors and in the mutations. Still, I like the dryness in subject, because it contrasts my more juicy way of painting with the splatters and drips.

Also, it is a natural way for me to start working in video and photography. To invite people to come along and help me fx. filming. I am much more conceptual in these ideas, though my work always have the poetic feeling about the space as the most important element-- the photographic images leaves a possibility to cut right into the idea. Also, sound, my collaboration with Goodiepal last year, and jazz pianist Nikolaj Hess this year is something that I am very excited about.
Growing Corner, acrylic and polymer on canvas, 90 x 82 in, 2008

BS: Tell us more about the connections between your paintings and constructions… how your thought process shifts when working on one or the other. I assume that working on a painting sometimes inspires ideas for constructions… and vice versa, correct?

MOK: Yes, they influence each other. The constructions are of course 3-dimensional, and in that way it is almost like walking into the paintings sometimes – jumping a scale and a dimension. But as the paintings are talking of spaces that mutates and becomes something new, the constructions are very site specific. I build models of the spaces I build the 1:1 constructions in, and it is all about relating to the specific space. That is why it has been interesting to do a series, because the changes are determined on the different situations. It is like the same thing-- morphing differently because of different situations.

BS: What are you working on at this time? Can you give us some insight into your recent work?

MOK: In the Pyramid City I made a sound installation captured on video where I play the Goodiepal-piece that I brought to Istanbul last year. At the main square, in front of a statue of Lenin, and with no one else but seagulls screaming in the empty city, I connected loudspeakers to a car battery and played it out in the valley, very loud!

Another film was recorded in the music rooms of the cultural center. Music instruments, a piano, drums, harmonica - and on the piano was a set of notes. So Nikolaj Hess will create a piece of music based on those specific notes, but also taken out of context, and we will differentiate it and pair it with sound recorded on site. Some of this work will be exhibited on the Standpoint Show.

I am painting again, and writing a bit.

Vietmine Standing, acrylic and polymer on canvas, 72 x 60 in, 2008

BS: Finally, is there anything else you would like to say about your art or the current goals that you have?

MOK: I just would like to continue the work I have in mind. I would also like to have time to study and read-- which I think the residencies will be very good to provide the possibility for. I think real life as an artist is what is happening now after I graduated. Traveling for some time, working and just meeting new people and societies are very exciting for me right now.
You can learn more about Mie Olise Kjaergaard by visiting her website, You can read updates about her projects by visiting her blog, Kjaergaard is currently represented by Barbara Davis Gallery, You can read more of my interviews by visiting the following page,
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin
Senior Editor


TomOliverArt said...

As an urban planner and artist, I find your paintings to be fascinating. It is interesting how some of the most innovative and artistic structures come out of desperation.

TomOliverArt said...

As an urban planner and painter, I find your paintings fascinating. It is interesting how some of the most interesting structures and innovative spaces come from desperation.

TomOliverArt said...

As an urban planner and painter, I find your paintings fascinating. It is interesting how some of the most interesting structures and innovative spaces come from desperation.