“I guess one of the hardest things of being an artist is the uncertainty”
AT: Where are you from and how/why did you start engaging with art?
ADL: I am from a small village on the west coast of Denmark called Fjaltring with around 150 inhabitants. Fjaltring was and is still a very creative community and therefore also attracted a lot of creative people from all over Denmark as well as Greenland. My interest in art really started with one of my teachers Gunnar Gregersen from the local school who taught art. He was really a sort of role model for me, he provided a hands-on approach to making art while my parents provided a broader view of art history bringing me along to art museums all over the world. I vividly remember one of my first interactions with contemporary art at Centre Pompidou in Paris where I saw a strange looking sculpture – I now believe looking back at it was by Joseph Beuys. I couldn’t comprehend what it was meant to be, so my reaction was to climb on top of it and I was immediately pulled down and away by a very angry guard. This experience really made art exciting for me.
AT: When did it become serious?
ADL: For me it became serious at my first preschool for the academy called BGK run by Danish artist Søren Taaning. I attended this school while also going to high school and while the high school stuff really didn’t excite me, I spent all of my energy in the BGK class. Here I began discovering that making art could be a real profession and I also discovered that this was what I loved to do the most. After I finished high school and BGK, I went to another preschool placed on a small island in Denmark called Ærø run by Susan Hinnum. Here I really discovered how to mix my interests into making art, making my works more conceptual. After this I went to Jutland Art Academy where I also met a lot of amazing teachers such as Jørgen Michaelsen, Ebbe Stub Wittrup and Elsebeth Jørgensen. Here I learned how to narrow my practice down and sharpening it. During the first year of the Art Academy I had my first solo at a commercial gallery called Lunchmoney – now known as Bjorn and Gundorph. Soon after that I had a solo at Larm Galleri in Copenhagen where I met Rolando Anselmi who I have been working with ever since. It kind of felt like I was attending two different schools at the same time: the Art Academy and the commercial art world and I felt like they were talking about the same thing but in two different languages. It was an interesting experience becoming a bilingual.
AT: Are there any person who has been significant in your breakthrough as an artist?
ADL: A lot of people have been really important. Some of them I have already named. Both teachers and fellow students from my education have helped guide me with great conversations, knowledge and support as well as challenging me. My four gallerists Rolando Anselmi, Yasmine Geukens, Marie-Paule De Vil and Sophus Gether have really helped me expand my horizons as an artist and helped me to grow immensely.
“Untitled”, mixed media, 200 x 300 cm, 2019 | Installation view of “Estimated time of arrival” at Gether Contemporary, 2019 | photo credit by David Stjernholm.
AT: What is your first approach to the work? How would you describe your practice?
ADL: I usually have two different work flows that I switch between. One is to make a work out of a neatly prepared sketch where I follow my plan 100 %. The other is a more fluid approach where I work intuitively and where it’s harder to figure out whether a work is finished or not. Over the past few years I have had my primary focus on painting, its art historical ballast and an exploratory approach to the processing of the traditional materials of painting. In my work production there are clear references to iconic artistic works and currents. For example, I work with acrylic castings of paint trays, thus creating a direct formalistic link to Frank Stella’s striped geometric works.
AT: What do you aim to reach with your work?
ADL: I guess it depends on the audience. In some cases, I will feel satisfied if people just see my works as beautiful objects. In other cases, I hope to reach the viewer on a more intellectual basis appealing to their art historian knowledge. In this case I hope they will catch some of the references and connecting them to the construction of the works and maybe to find a dialectical approach in the relationship between the two.
AT: What are your favourite tools and materials for working?
ADL: A part of my practice is that I always use the exact same tools and materials. I always use one specific type of raw canvas, a certain brand of acrylic paint and a specific kind of thread. Besides that, I of course use a sewing machine, but if I have to choose my all-time favorite tool in my studio it would be a paint tray, which I would favorite for its conceptual value.
AT: What do you feel while you work? Do you usually think about the final outcome beforehand?
ADL: It depends on where I am in the process. I am usually really excited when I am sketching and I guess the most boring part is the beginning of the execution of the work but it becomes more stimulating as I get closer to the end. If the work turns out really good when it’s stretched it’s the best feeling. And that feeling usually works as a fertilizer for doing more sketches.
“Untitled”, mixed media, 250×180 cm, 2019 | photo credit by David Stjernholm.
“Untitled”, mixed media, 60×50 cm, 2019 | photo credit by David Stjernholm.
AT: How do you understand that a work is finished?
ADL: As I mentioned before, I have two different approaches to making a work – the planned and the intuitive. It’s really easy to know when the planned one is finished. With the intuitive one on the other hand it’s much more difficult to know when it’s done. It can take years and it’s often more a decision than actually knowing that it’s done.
AT: Where does the inspiration for the work come from?
ADL: I would say my inspiration is a mix of certain elements: the works I already have in my studio, the concept of a limited amount of materials, critique from friends and colleagues, art history, curiosity and irritation.
AT: Are there any artists who influenced your works? Why?
ADL: I’m very influenced by a lot of other artists. I guess it would be impossible to make art without the influence of other artists. I’ve created a list of 100 artists I like to look at: Lone Haugaard Madsen; Theaster Gates; Isa Genzken; Sigmar Polke; Avery Singer; Sterling Ruby; Gosima Von Bonin; Steen Parrino; Ida Ekblad; Dahn Vo; Rosemarie Trockel; Piero Manzoni; Lea Porsager; Rolf Nowotny; Katharina Grosse; Alberto Burri; Klara Liden; Andre Butzer; Eva Hesse; Abraham Cruz Villegas; Tove Storch; Wyatt Kahn; Rachel Whiteread; Frank Stella; Ester Fleckner; Matias Faldbakken; Agnes Martin; Lawrence Weiner; Beth Letain; David Ostrowski; Helen Frankenthalen; Sol Lewitt; Jodie Carey; Alexander Tovborg; Lynda Benglis; Richard Prince; Marie Lund; Jaromir Novotny; Doris Salcedo; Andy Warhol; Thea Djordjadze; Jonathan Monk; Carmen Herrera; Robert Morris; Judith Hopf; Justin Matherly; Lee Lozano; Albert Mertz; Alicja Kwade; Jose Dávila; Annie Mae Young; Ad Reinhardt; Sidsel Meiniche Hansen; Wade Guyton; Gunta Stölzl; Salvatore Scarpitta; Christine Overvad Hansen; Jess Fuller; Roni Horn; El Anatsui; Charlotte Thrane; Aaron Gaber-Maikovska; Ann Veronica Janssens ; Lucio Fontana; Tyra Tingleff; Gedi Sibony; Jenny Holzer; Richard Serra; Nora Schultz; Morden Skrøder Lund; Joyce Pensato; Marcel Duchamp; Birke Gorm; Magnus Andersen; Janet Cardiff; Yun Hyong-Keun; Anna Uddenberg; Tue Greenfort; Sarah Lucas; Conrad Marca-Relli; Haegue Yang; Jordan Wolfson; Lygia Pape; Walter De Maria; Haris Epaminonda; Daniel Turner; Suzan Frecon; Kurt Schwitters; Mai-Thu Perret; Sylvester Hegner; R.H. Quaytman; Michael Krebber; Raphaela Vogel; Michael Sailstorfer; Angela De La Cruz; Jan Schoonhoven; Teresa Brula Reis; Nicolas Lamas; Geta Bratescu; Mark Rothko.
AT: How important is the role of social media for you?
ADL: For me it’s really important to have social media when living in a smaller city like Aarhus, so you can be connected to a larger art community. I really find it fascinating than in a short amount of time I can be in contact with artists all over the world, giving and receiving critique and also feeling up to date about what’s happening, who’s showing where and getting an idea of a certain gallery, museum or art fair before visiting them in person.
“Untitled”, mixed media, 80 x 75 cm, 2019 | photo credit by David Stjernholm.
“Untitled”, mixed media, 175 x 175 cm, 2019 | photo credit by David Stjernholm.
AT: As an artist, what is your point of view about the contemporary art system?
ADL: That’s a really big question. It’s hard to even know where to start due to the complexity of the system and the many roles that are in play such as gallerists, collectors, curators, museums, kunsthalles, biennials, critics, art advisors, social media, artist run spaces, art academies, pre-schools, art historians, residencies, fairs, auction houses, the secondary market in general, art flippers, the ministry of culture, public and private funds, the audience, of course the artists and a lot of other players. While naming all of these different parts of the contemporary art world, it would be very difficult to answer such a big question shortly in this conversation.
AT: What do you find to be the most challenging or daunting thing about pursuing art? What is the most rewarding part of working as an artist?
ADL: I guess one of the hardest things of being an artist is the uncertainty. You never know what will happen next year, exhibition and economy wise. This can lead to a lot of worrying, but of course there are some thing you can do to prepare for this. Other than that, I would say I am often in a situation where someone wants to receive a lot without giving a lot themselves. In other words people often expect artists to work for free. This can be quite tiring. But luckily the good things outweigh the bad by a million. First of all, I get to do what I love every day, I get to meet a lot of interesting people, travel all over the world, I decide my own schedule and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
AT: What do you do besides art?
ADL: One of my main hobbies is collecting art. I spend a lot of time browsing different sites for reselling art, both auction houses and consumer-to-consumer reselling sites. I rarely buy art at galleries, but it happens. Sometimes I also trade works with other young artists. I recently found a Per Kirkeby drawing in a Ta’Box magazine from 1969 I bought at DBA (the Danish equivalent to Ebay) for around 3 €. I later got it verified by experts at a major auction house. It’s these kinds of amazing finds that makes collecting so much fun. That and of course enjoying great artworks in my own home every day.
AT: What are your goals and expectations for the future?
ADL: My hopes for the future are maybe quite modest, I just hope that my career will go on pretty much as it is right now. I am very happy about where I am right now, the collaborations I have and the possibilities I have.
Installling “Estimated time of arrival” at Gether Contemporary, 2019 | photo credit by David Stjernholm.
Asger Dybvad Larsen (1990) is a Danish painter currently living and working in Aarhus, Denmark. Larsen works mainly on the physicality of the painting and the transformation of traditional paintings materials. His works are both painterly and highly tactile and are identified most clearly in their dialectical conversation with the medium's traditions and its classical structure. In his practice the personal sign of the individual gesture is rejected in favour of an art that tries to achieve a form that does not refer to anything other than itself.