What is your earliest memory of art, and when was the moment you knew you wanted a career as an artist?
I started quite early out making drawings and paintings. My first painting I remember I did when I was about 13 years old and since then I've never stopped doing this. I simply cannot live without it. It may sound a bit pretentious but somehow from an early age I knew this was going to be my calling in life. One year after beginning to paint my family and I went to Oslo in Norway because my older sister was going to be married there. Her coming father in law took me to the National Gallery in Oslo, where I saw many of my heroes from the French Impressionists. But what really made an impact on me, that still today influences my way of thinking, was my meeting with Edvard Munch's work. In particular the work "puberty' which is still haunting me today.
Is there something specific you look for when choosing the location of your next piece?
When I was a boy and a young man I always went out into nature to draw and paint. Now, so many years later I have returned to many of the same places and have started to do same practice as then. The difference is the way to see has changed. And that small fact actually makes it feel necessary to do this practice again. Today I go out each and every day in nature or in my surroundings to work. Or maybe rather to observe, study and draw. Often on my walks I see something. A tree, a bush. Quite ordinary things. But I see these becoming works in my head when I meet things in nature. So I choose from that. Everything about it is very natural and actually not complicated. That is a part of the project. Actually, I would not call it a project but rather a way of being. I try not to think about doing art. It’s somehow uninteresting like this. I’m more interested in trying to show these visions I get. What meanings or emotional people put into these visions, are a projection rather than my thoughts. But it is interesting to see that some people connect to the visions. It tells me something about our common way of seeing the world, whatever and wherever you may be as a human being . Somehow we have inner pictures in common. It’s in us. So I never think too much about art. It only disturbs the way I work.
Per Adolfsen, HOUSE BY THE STREAM, 2021, 60 x 42 cm
What are the questions or themes you explore in your work?
Throughout the years I have worked with many themes and techniques. Always trying to find an understanding of myself and the world that surrounds me. Always trying to find an understanding for my existence. So it’s kind of ironic how I feel right now and that it is quite obvious what to do today. Just doing landscapes. Just with a pen on a paper. But it also feels quite logical. Obviously...trying to read my environment without putting something like answers or an intellectual approach into the work. I like the naivety and the pure approach. It feels right. As simple as that. I think people today live so much in their brain. We do.....so this is kind of a relief to me to do things the way I do them. It makes so much sense and frankly it demands actually not many words . Well you asked me for an interview, so I try to give you some words anyway.
What’s your studio like?
My studio is quite messy, full of drawings and seems out of control when you enter the room. But to be honest I’m there rarely these days, due to the fact I do my works wherever I am. This was never born because of the corona lockdown, but because of my own history. My life and maybe also because of where I come from. I don’t know for sure. I started working like this about 2 and a half years ago and denied to do an exhibition for a very long time. Eventually, in summer 2020 I decided to show my work in public in Berlin. I feared it somehow would change the purity of my working process, but luckily it has no influence what so ever. So since the show in Berlin I had the luck to participate in many shows around the world.
Per Adolfsen, A WINTER DAY BY THE STREAM, 2021, 42 x 30 cm
You have just had a show in New York at the 532 Gallery Thomas Jaeckel, how was that experience, especially during such a strange year?
Lately I had a solo exhibition in New York Chelsea at 532 Gallery Thomas Jaeckel. I was quite excited to show my work sampled in a solo show. Also because of the situation with corona restrictions. I could not go to the opening myself because of that, so I followed everything here from Denmark. Somehow though it fitted into my project. The artist is absent. Well I think I learned that my presence is not that important. I was very surprised by the fact that so many found their way to see my exhibition. They came to see my work and not because of who I am. That makes me feel humble. Per Adolfsen in person is not needed. The work is important. And best of all was I could continue my daily practice here. Doing the works and studies. I am really thankful to my gallerist who did a really great job with making this exhibition a success in difficult times.
Finally, What is next for you in 2021?
Next up I cannot tell yet, but it will soon be announced.