“If my art touches your heart, I have found purpose in life.” — Arngrim Larsen
A major power outage around Schiphol Airport threw a wrench in my visit with visual abstract artist, Arngrim Larsen in Gothenburg, Sweden. Unable to fly out, but thanks to technology, I was lucky enough to still meet this soft-spoken, articulate, and thoughtful artist, who lives and breathes abstract art.
Colours and patterns
Arngrim Larsen’s art is borne from his feelings and it is his therapy to understand and accept himself and the world. In our first meeting, Arngrim had already explained to me that he sees colours in and around himself and others. “Like other people can hear music in their heads, I see colours and patterns and they need to be expressed.”
A new work starts within himself, from an inner-process of personal feelings and thoughts, manifested through colours and patterns. And depending on the process that takes place, a new work will fall within a specific series, like the “Unfolding of Heart” or “Voyage of Thoughts”.
“Unfolding of Heart”
A painting within his “Unfolding of Heart” series, will start with a ground feeling that overcomes him. Meditating on this feeling, a colour that is deeply connected to it, will start to represent itself. Arngrim then has found his background colour and he can start thinking about a pattern. Arngrim explains: “From the colour, a pattern emerges and with a painting knife, I commence painting it. All in my head. It is an inner-process allowing me to easily change it, over and over again, until I like it. I don’t start with the actual painting until I am comfortable with what I want to convey about the feeling I am working from. Only when I have a clear picture painted in my head, I will start with the actual artwork.”
“Voyage of Thoughts”
A painting within the “Voyage of Thoughts” series, on the other hand, starts much more intuitive. For this, Arngrim will start with taping his paper on a board and then lets one or more colours come to him as he applies the paint. Stepping back, going back in, applying colours until the background is finished and a pattern has started to emerge. Lines follow, one after the other, like a conversation; a voyage of Arngrim’s thoughts.
This series is particularly special for Arngrim. It is with this series when his artwork first became truly personal. “For the first time since I started practicing art full time, I had written down my thoughts, my heart, for all to see. And it was such a relief. A realization that this is what I am supposed to do.”
Naming a work
Although his paintings come to life very naturally, naming his work once it is done, feels like a “task”; It is a “thing”. Difficult and often a struggle because a name can have a negative impact on the work. He explains: “An artwork should go beyond its name. I like to give my audience a “spark”, from where their experience with my work begins. I do not want to define the process for them. They should be able to take it where they want or need it to go.”
Art as a therapy
Arngrim has a strong desire to share his artwork. “I would like more people to get in touch with themselves. Art in so many ways is a real way to do just that. Whether poetry, music or visual art, it all can help us with that. We have done it for centuries and it is what makes us human. If my art touches your heart, I have found purpose in life.”
Finalizing our meeting, I ask whether being an artist makes him lonely. “Not necessarily lonely” he explains, “Alone, perhaps, since creating is a solitary process for me. I can say on the other hand that I am lonely without my art, in a negative way. An artist is what I am. I am devoted to it, and it makes me happy.”