Håkon Danielsen's 'Spejlene'

Reconnecting with the Norwegian artist to chat about the evolution of his work, and the forthcoming collection of work for Galleri Oxholm.

Published: March 31, 2017Words: J.Scott Stratton

I first met Håkon Danielsen when we both exhibited in a, now defunct, gallery on Nansensgade in Copenhagen back in 2008. I was still dabbling in the false hopes of attaining a career as an artist, and he was working with sculpture in these madcap vivid forms built from found objects, clay, straws and neon color. Danielsen is an old soul, with an subtle eccentricity to his nature—making him instantly likeable.

We kept in contact for a while, myself often visiting his studio in a stripped out warehouse in Valby, talking and pondering on collaboration, the Danish art scene, and life in general. But, as things often do in life, we lost contact with each other—my passion for pursuing an artist life in Denmark waned, and his focus shifted to queer culture scene which influenced a change in direction for his artistic work.

It was to my pleasure, that we reunited by pure coincidence last year at Galleri Oxholm for the exhibition opening of a visiting L.A artist Christine Shurtz. Popping in to the exhibition in painted jeans for a glass of wine and to show support, I was delighted to find that he was still pursuing his natural talent and that he was actually being represented by Galleri Oxholm. It’s always a good feeling to be reunited with an old friend, to find that they have been recognised for their talent.

The medium for his artistic expression had shifted over the years, away from sculpture and installation, back to the raw form of paint and canvas, and upon hearing of his upcoming collection of work being shown at Galleri Oxholm, I reached out to him to get a better understanding of the evolution of his style.

When last we worked together, you were working primarily in sculpture. How has your work evolved since then?

At that time, I was extremely inspired by the queer group Warehouse 9. That was probably back in 2008, right? After the sculptures, I began working with the installation form. It featured a very broad creative expression. I stuffed rats, made stop motion films, experimented with chemicals, motion sensors, audio, gears and simple machines that could build sculptures and drawing pictures. I became interested in electronics and programming.

It had moved me far from my original and natural language of painting. But about three years I returned to my roots. Now, for the exhibition Spejlene (or Mirrors), I am bringing the sculptural form into the paintings.

I can see that with the new work. Your paintings since returning to that medium are quite active and expressive, can you tell me a little bit about that?

Canvas space is my natural language and allows me to express myself without any technical problems. The works can be created from a variety of actions and intentions, where the inner-self and unconscious is allowed to flow directly onto the canvas. My paintings contain the energy I make. Sometimes quiet and dissolved, other times frustrated and controlled.

You wrote in the statement about your work, “My contention is that everything I express, revealing sides of myself.”….what do you mean by this?

Yes, I can not possibly express something I can not express. I can never understand anything I’m not able to understand. All I express, regardless of the type of expression, reveals the various sides of myself.

Håkon Danielsen interview for Blacklisted Magazine
Håkon Danielsen interview for Blacklisted Magazine

Can you take me through the process of creating one of your paintings?

I think that it the hardest to express. The creative obstructions are there, the technique and the grounds are changeable, and in my context is not so important.

My paintings often occur in this way: I tap into the most accessible impulsive action, and try to not assess whether the impulse is good or bad. Everything has an expression. A year ago, it was enough with this one action, it had a value and experienced valuable. The term was loose and fluffy.

Today, I have been working to expand the format—to encompass more. I seek harmony. But the harmony of today is not the same as the harmony of tomorrow, so it only reflects a quest. And so the paintings themselves change.

Can you tell me about the concept for your upcoming exhibition Spejlene?

The finished work is not only expressed a reflection of “self” in an external shape, but a direct extension of it. It is the ego expanding to show itself in abstract shapes and patterns.

I feel like both creator and viewer, seeing myself in the associations that occur by looking at the paintings. As a viewer, one might see yourself in the associations that occur by looking at the paintings. Everything is a mirror.