In anticipation of our three-man show, From Europe, With Love, PIERMARQ* interviewed Danish artist Henrik Godsk about his career, inspirations and creative process.
From Europe, With Love
Henrik Godsk, Jordy Kerwick & Olivier Vrancken
20 June - 6 July 2019
PIERMARQ*: Can you tell us about how you got into making art?
HENRIK GODSK: I grew up in a travelling fair. In fact, I was born into it. In the summer, we toured around in Norway, in the winter we prepared for the next year. This involved renovating and painting panels and facades among others. I participated in this from an early age. Accordingly, initially I was kind of a sign painter. When I was 14, I discovered Picasso and wanted to become a fine artist instead.
P*: What are the core concerns of your practice?
HG: I am interested in the relation between abstraction and figuration and flatness and space. Also, I try to make works that are sort of beyond time, looking old and new at the same time.
P*: What have been your major influences?
HG: Three artists in particular: Pablo Picasso, Vilhelm Lundstrøm (Danish modernist), and Amadeo Modigliani.
P*: What exhibitions or artists have left a strong impression on you and your development as an artist?
HG: I would have to say Amadeo Modigliani. He was beyond time. He almost looked conservative compared to some of his contemporaries, drawing on classic masters. Yet, he also looked fresh. He had his own space, his own voice.
P*: Can you talk us through the conceptual focus of your work for the upcoming exhibition at PIERMARQ*?
HG: The pieces in the show are all imaginary portraits. They are not portraits of specific persons. They look female, but I consider them to be beyond gender. They are very constructed, as is postmodern identity, but I still think they represent something human. When you get close to the paintings, you realise that the abstract qualities are just as important as the images.
P*: Can you expand upon the process in creating your works?
HG: If there is a human figure in the painting, I begin with the head. From there, I take it step by step or, rather, one geometrical element at a time. No sketch.
I have a lot of rules. I am not allowed to fill out the whole canvas. The raw canvas has to be visible here and there. This allow the colors to breath. Also, I am not allowed to over paint. If I break this rule, it has to be visible, i.e. you should be able to see parts of what is underneath the new layer of paint. This gives the painting the freshness of a drawing. Many mistakes are kept, since I don't paint layer on layer as many oil painters, and it adds a "live-element" to the textured layers of the paintings, i.e. the fat brush strokes are one takes.
I like to keep it simple and fresh. If a painting does not work, I cut it up and use it for collages. This happens very often. Too much work on my paintings destroys the freshness.