TCG Nordica http://en.tcgnordica.com Stimulating reflection on human worth as expressed in various Art Forms. Mon, 06 Apr 2020 02:26:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.1.4 Karen Blixen: The Storyteller http://en.tcgnordica.com/2020/karen-blixen-the-storyteller/ Mon, 06 Apr 2020 01:37:23 +0000 http://en.tcgnordica.com/?p=8567 This is the fifth article in in the series, where TCG Nordica every week introduce a famous Scandinavian artist’s life and work.

Karen Blixen was born Karen Christentze Dinesen in 1885 into a landed upper-class family on the Rungstedlund Manor, Northern Zealand, Denmark. She grew up lacking nothing: She had multiple servants, her own horses, good education with multiple trips abroad and her family was rubbing shoulders with the nobility. But all was not well.

Her father Wilhelm Dinesen had had an eventful life, fighting in wars and living as a hunter with Native Americans in Wisconsin, before returning to Denmark becoming a landowner and politician. He also wrote books. But in 1895 after some political failure, he hanged himself.

Karen (second from the left) with her two sisters and their teacher. Picture from 1894. The contrast between the strict Victorian clothing and the self-dramatization of Karen’s later portraits is striking.

If her father had found it difficult to fit in to the bourgeoise society he came from, how much more difficult must it have been for Karen, who was highly intelligent, but as a woman, was much more restricted in her life choices than her father had been. Though excellent, her education had never been minted at her making a career for herself, but at making her an acceptable wife to some male specimen of her own class. She never accepted the simplified black-and-white values of good and bad, that she had been taught.

Blixen in front of her childhood home, Rungstedlund. Today it houses the Karen Blixen Museum.

Karen wrote her first poems when she was only eight years old, and she continued writing fairytales and plays (that she performed with her sisters) and making drawings and illustrations to Shakespeare and Dickens. She started taking drawing lessons, and in 1907 she got some short stories published under the pseudonym “Osceola”. For most of her life Karen would publish under pseudonyms because of the influence it would have had on the reception of her works if the readers and critics new she was a woman. 

She fell in love with the Swedish baron Hans von Blixen-Finecke, but it didn’t work out, and in 1910 she went to Paris to study painting. She didn’t find any happiness there either and she wrote that she was “so tired of the whole existence that I could vomit”. 

In her early poem “Wings” the ending goes like this:

“Wonderful is the earth in summertime
when all the roses from their clothing burst,
but in its prison my heart sings
only of wings, only of wings”

If Karen was to find these wings, she would have to take more drastic action.

Karen on safari in 1914.

Karen gave up on her painting aspirations and in 1914 she married Hans’ brother baron Bror von Blixen-Finecke (thus joining the nobility as baroness and taking the surname Blixen) and emigrated with him to British East Africa, where they started a coffee farm together.

The house where Karen lived outside Nairobi is today, like Rungstedlund in Denmark, a museum dedicated to her.

During her long stay in Africa, though marred by illness, economic troubles and marital problems (she was divorced from Bror in 1925), Karen found a freedom she had never experienced before:

“Here was finally a place that was able to give that freedom from all conventions, here was a new form of freedom, that I so far had only found in dreams.”

Karen together with Denys Finch Hatton.

In Africa she met the British big game hunter Denys Finch Hatton, with whom she developed a romantic relationship. He took her on safaris and even took her flying in his own little biplane, thus literally giving Blixen wings, and she repaid him with her storytelling. Later Karen and Denys would become estranged and in 1931, shortly before Blixen returned to Denmark because of economic troubles, Denys died in a crash with his airplane. It was also in Africa that she started writing on a more serious level. She would later publish her memoirs of her time in Africa as “Out of Africa”. In 1985 the book was the basis (though Hollywood took its liberties) of the movie of the same name that, won multiple academy awards including the best picture and made Karen Blixen world famous.

A portrait bust of Blixen made by sculptor by Lis Hooge Hansen.

In 1934 after Blixen’s return to Denmark she managed to get her book “Seven Gothic Tales” published in the USA under the pseudonym “Isak Dinesen”. She had originally written it in English, during her stay in Africa, though she translated it to Danish and had it published in Denmark in 1935. This enchanting book was her great debut. It consists of seven fantasies of a semi-magical old Europe, where Blixen meditates over the nature and power of storytelling, often with stories inside the story, thus creating a layered structure, where the outermost story is perhaps Blixen’s and her readers own lives. This is also suggested by the use of mirrors as an image throughout the work, suggesting that stories are (twisted) mirrors of the real world.

Blixen photographed in one of many dramatic portraits.

Since she was a child Blixen had told stories. She cultivated an image of herself as a storyteller throughout her life, comparing herself with the legendary Scheherazade from the Arabian Nights and letting herself be depicted in countless wonderful and very self-consciously eccentric portraits. She never remarried, and though this might have been connected to the illness she contracted during her stay in Africa, it definitely contributed to the mystic, even mythical image promulgated of herself.

It is perhaps as a storyteller that Blixen found her true wings. One of the characters in the short story “Second Meeting” written in 1961, a year before her death, says: 

“Certainly it is a great happiness to be able to turn the things which happen to you into stories. It is perhaps the one perfect happiness that a human being will find in life. But it is at the same time, inexplicably to the uninitiated, a loss, a curse even.”

Thus, Blixen, as opposed to her father, did in the end find her wings, though they didn’t come without costs.

Blixen in her home, Rungstedlund.

In 1962 Blixen died 77 years old at Rungstedlund, highly successful both in Denmark and abroad, and recognized for a number of remarkable works including “Seven Gothic Tales”, “Out of Africa” and “Winter’s tales”.

Blixen in 1952 with the “Golden Laurels”, an award given to authors by Danish bookstores.

All of Blixen’s major works are available in English. “Out of Africa” has been translated into Chinese, and the movie of the same name can be found on IQIY and Youku.

Text: Skjold Andreas Arendt 

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Mathias Skeibrok, Norwegian sculptor 1851-1896 http://en.tcgnordica.com/2020/mathias-skeibrok-norwegian-sculptor-1851-1896/ Sun, 29 Mar 2020 00:52:32 +0000 http://en.tcgnordica.com/?p=8555 This is the fourth article in in the series, where TCG Nordica every week introduce a famous Scandinavian artist’s life and work.

Mathias Skeibrok was born 1851 in Skeibrok, a small place in Lista in the south of Norway. He died in 1896, only 45 years old. His parents were poor farmers and he was the second out of five children. As a boy he worked on his parents’ farm, first as shepherd, later as fisherman. The whole family worked together, fishing and farming. In his spare time, he liked to make drawings and do wood cuttings.

How did this boy become one of the most remarkable artists in Norway in the 19th century?

In school Mathias’ teachers recognized his talent for making remarkable drawings and he carved in wood better than anyone. Mathias didn’t have access to many examples of art that he could draw on for inspiration, but close to his home there were simple stone carvings from the Viking age. Also, the furniture in his home had decorative woodcarvings that could inspire him. In this way his interest in art came out of his own talent, and not the other way around.

As a young man he was a construction worker at the lighthouse in Lista and in his spare time he cut portraits in wood with his knife. His friends were astonished at the likenesses he created.

“Edvard Grieg”

The lighthouse boss saw that Mathias Skeibrok had talent and recommended him to a friend in Oslo who ran a woodcarving company and was in need of a new and talented craftsman. Oslo, the capital, was the centre of art in Norway. It was a place with possibilities and Mathias used his income from the woodcarving company to study sculpturing. His portraits in the naturalistic style became popular and he made an income by selling them. In 1874 one portrait of a famous Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg got him enough money to travel to Copenhagen in Denmark for further studies. 

At the time the prevailing trend in art was romanticism, where the artist depictured people in glorious and beautiful ways. In line with this Skeibrok wanted to depict figures from old Nordic history and mythology. He later departed from that idea however and started the movement realism in Norway.

Ragnar Lodbrok” as he is being killed by snake bites. 
The text below says “How the piglets would squeal if they knew how the old boar suffered” referring to the revenge his sons would take at his killers.

In 1876 he received a public scholarship and went to France. In Paris the ideas in art was to create sculptures of people in their daily lives, not in artificial romantic settings. Mathias Skeibrok had been well known for his busts, mostly ordered by rich people to honour popular men but influenced by Parisian artists, he created in an oversized dimension, a sculpture of the legendary Viking Ragnar Lodbrok in severe pain, portraying his body in fine detail. This sculpture was accepted at the World Exhibition in Paris 1878.

“Tired

Mathias Skeibrok’s most important work was a sculpture of a tired working girl, sleeping on her chair. This work fully shows Skeibrok’s talent for portraying. In realistic detail a tired girl is shown. Her clothes, tools, the chair she is sitting on, everything is correctly formed. This sculpture is not only an outstanding work when it comes to sculpturing, but also original in choice of topic: The idea was to display the situation of working girls at a time when industrial workers had very few rights. The model might have been Skeibrok’s own sister, as she worked at home. This sculpture was the first to introduce the Realism, the dominant art style in Paris at the time, into Norway.

“The mother watches a sick child”

Another realistic sculpture of Skeibrok is “The mother watches a sick child”. It has no roots in history or classicism, but is showing the daily life of ordinary people.

The front wall of Oslo University.

In 1885 Skeibrok won a competition for decorating the front wall of Oslo University. This work was in a classic style. It shows him in the phase of styles between historic romantic and realistic to naturalistic.

Ride, ride”

While “Tired” (Træt) was perhaps depicturing Mathias’ sister, the little playing child in “Ride, ride” is his daughter. His first wife died in 1886 after one year of marriage. He married again in 1892.

Skeibrok was a man of great talent, and after his time in Copenhagen and Paris he returned to Norway where he taught at the art academy in Oslo. One of his students was the famous artist Gustav Vigeland, the most well-known sculptor in Norway, ever.

A collection of the works by the great sculptor Mathias Skeibrok is exhibited in a little museum close to Lista, where he was born.

Information taken from Norwegian Artist Dictionary. Photos are from Vestagdermuseet, Lista.

Text: Alfred Vaagsvold

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Jean Sibelius: Composing a voice for Nature http://en.tcgnordica.com/2020/jean-sibelius-composing-a-voice-for-nature/ Sun, 22 Mar 2020 01:47:40 +0000 http://en.tcgnordica.com/?p=8526 This is the third article in in the series, where TCG Nordica every week introduce a famous Scandinavian artist’s life and work.

Of the Scandinavian composers Finnish Jean Sibelius is today the most well-known and his symphonic works are regularly played in concerts halls all over the world.

Johan Julius Christian Sibelius (later he changed Johan to the more fashionable French Jean) was born in 1865 in what was then the Grand Duchy of Finland, an autonomous part of the Russian Empire. His father died when Sibelius was only four years old, and it was his aunt Julia who started his music education by teaching him piano and beating his fingers every time he played a mistake. No wonder then, that he preferred to play the violin his uncle Pehr gave him when he was ten. Sibelius quickly took a liking to the violin and decided to make a career out of it.

The 11-year-old Sibelius.

In spite of some success on the violin he had to give it up in the beginning of the 1890’s:

“My tragedy was that I wanted to be a celebrated violinist at any price. Since the age of 15 I played my violin practically from morning to night. I hated pen and ink – unfortunately I preferred an elegant violin bow. My love for the violin lasted quite long enough and it was a very painful awakening when I had to admit that I had begun my training for the exacting career of a virtuoso too late.” Unfortunately for him, but fortunately for us, he had to overcome this hate for “pen and ink”.

He never lost his love for the violin though, and his wonderful Violin Concerto is the most performed Violin Concerto composed in the 20th century.

Composing music was not foreign to Sibelius. His first extant composition was written already in 1881, and from 1885 to 1889 when he studied at the Helsinki Music Academy (later renamed the Sibelius Academy) he started lessons in composition. These continued in Berlin and Vienna in 1889-90 where he met the cusp of European composers. It was also here he acquired his lifelong habit of drinking too much champagne and smoking too many cigars (only broken from 1908-1914 after a spell with throat cancer, caused by this last habit).

Sibelius (far right) and a group of Finnish artists depicted by Akseli Gallen-Kallela (far left) at one of his nightly revels.

In 1892 his first big compositional success came with the tone poem “En Saga”. This was one of many “tone poems” and other compositions inspired by Nordic and Finnish legends. Sibelius was closely connected to groups of artists who promoted Finnish culture and advocated for independence from the Russian Empire. His 1899 tone poem “Finlandia” is the most famous in this respect. It was composed as a protest against increasing Russian control, and with its menacing brass opening it heralds the rising up of the Finnish people against Russian oppression. 18 years later independence finally came on the heels of the Russian revolution, and Sibelius’ music has been credited with helping to create a Finnish national identity in this formative period.

Ainola. The idyllic home Sibelius built with his wife Aino. Ainola means “Aino’s home” and it is located near Lake Tuusula.

Since he was very small Sibelius had always loved nature. His biographer Tawaststjerna writes:

“Even by Nordic standards, Sibelius responded with exceptional intensity to the moods of nature and the changes in the seasons: he scanned the skies with his binoculars for the geese flying over the lake ice, listened to the screech of the cranes, and heard the cries of the curlew echo over the marshy grounds just below Ainola [Sibelius’ home]. He savoured the spring blossoms every bit as much as he did autumnal scents and colours.” 

This love for nature is present in all of his music: one good example is the ever-invigorating Karelia Suite, inspired by the landscapes of eastern Finland. Of all Sibelius works it is however his Fifth Symphony where the nature most poignantly appears.

Finland is known as the “Land of the thousand lakes”.

The fifth symphony was written during the World War I years, when Sibelius had to stay at home most of the time and there were no orchestras to play his music. One day in April 1915 he saw 16 swans flying over his house, inspiring him to write the last movement of the symphony. He described the sight as “One of the great experiences of my life!”. This “swan theme” is an almost ridiculously simple little melody. Sibelius opens the movement by stirring up a storm in the strings. After about a minute in the recording recommended below the swan theme is foreshadowed in the cellos and double basses, and after a couple more bars the tempestuous strings retreat and the Swans (represented by the French horns) emerge from the black clouds. Sibelius is not finished yet though and in a stroke of genius he adds yet another theme in the woodwinds on top of the swan theme. Magnificent!

Sibelius sketched by Albert Engström.

Nature is a part of Sibelius’ music not only in content but also in form. Especially his later music was “metamorphotic” in its structure. Sibelius’ music often starts with a single idea that organically changes and evolves throughout the music. Though the original idea might be lost in the process there is no hard breaks. This was a change away from what had long been the prevailing style of composing that contrasted multiple different themes. Thus, Sibelius occupies a Janus-like position in Western classical music, at once being one of the last in a long line of Romantic composers (inspiration from composers like Bruckner and Tchaikovsky is found in his music), but also looking forward with innovative new ways of composing that would exercise great influence on later composers.

Sibelius’ fans send him more than adequate amounts of cigars in his later years.

From 1927 and until Sibelius’ death in 1957 he didn’t compose any major works. We know that he worked on an eight symphony but was apparently never satisfied (his earlier music was a high standard to live up to) and in 1945 he burned whatever he had written down of it.

It is said that a couple of days before his death he saw a flock of cranes. “There they come, the birds of my youth” he said, and as he said it one of the birds left the others and circled above Ainola before it continued its journey with the others.

Recommended listening:

Symphony No. 5 in E flat major, Op. 82. Here in a recording with Alexander Gibson conduction the London Symphony orchestra.


Most of Sibelius’ other major works can be found in this excellent recording with Leif Segerstam conducting the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra.

Text: Skjold Andreas Arendt 
Translation: Zhang Yu


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Art, passions, life, death, and hope – an essay about Carl Milles, Swedish sculptor, 1875-1955 http://en.tcgnordica.com/2020/art-passions-life-death-and-hope-an-essay-about-carl-milles-swedish-sculptor-1875-1955%ef%bb%bf/ Sun, 15 Mar 2020 06:56:35 +0000 http://en.tcgnordica.com/?p=8511 This is the second article in in the series, where TCG Nordica every week introduce a famous Scandinavian artist’s life and work.

Photo: AHA

The Swedish sculptor Carl Milles [ˈmɪ̂lːɛs] has given generations to come and across the world a vast number of stunning and intriguing artworks to behold and enjoy. He invites the spectator to explore his universe if only we look closely and long enough to see it. 

On Lidingö, one of the many islands on which Stockholm the beautiful capital of Sweden is built, the public is invited to visit Millesgården, the Milles mansion. After passing the marble portal, visitors arrive at a green gate and then a small courtyard, enclosed by an iron railing with large wrought-iron gates displaying Carl Milles’ motto: Pray, let me work while the day is bright (Låt mig verka medan dagen brinner) – which he borrowed from a poem by his older sister Ruth Milles.

Already when one flies into the Stockholm Arlanda airport, one is actually close to Carl Milles birthplace. He was born in what today is the municipality of Knivsta. There, by the Lagga church, one finds his statue Angel playing flute. The flute itself points at Carl Milles’ mother’s grave. Although the statue belongs to his later production, it is connected to one of his earliest experiences, that of losing his mother when being little more than a toddler. 

Carl Milles is arguably Sweden’s greatest sculptor and dominated much of the Swedish sculptor scene for decades and was indeed very productive. As result we can enjoy his works in many Swedish cities, but also abroad. This essay intends to introduce its readers to but a fraction of Carl Milles’ vast production, and rather than doing so in a formal way of a chronological inventory, we will have a peek into Carl Milles worldview and passions as well as take note of some events and circumstances that appear to have had influence on him. Artistically, we will mainly focus on how he was intrigued by the interaction between hard matter like stone or metal, and the soft matter of water, a relationship he explored in his many fountains. 

One of Milles’ strong influences comes from Auguste Rodin, under whom he studied at the Êcole des Beaux-Arts school in Paris, France. Milles moved to Paris in 1897 and he remained there until 1906. In Paris he also met his wife, the Austria-born Olga Granner. Already at this time Carl Milles begins to get internationally recognized and rewarded. Due to poverty and rough circumstances, he unfortunately contracted a lung disease, which forced him to slow down his creative production. However, in 1907 Carl and Olga managed to buy the first plot of land that became the early beginnings of what today is Millesgården. This was a period when his popularity kept increasing, making it financially possible for him and Olga to also realize their dreams and visions and to gradually increase the Milles mansion. 

However, as they enjoy building their own private world, the world around them is about to change dramatically. The revolution in Russia took place in 1917, and soon after, World War I changed the world for good. The political and societal changes in Germany, Italy and Spain in the early 1900s, caught the interest of Carl Milles, who also appeared to express some admiration of the fascists. This made him controversial and he faced fierce criticism for it. His artwork also drew criticism from some artist quarters. He is said to have been a sensitive personality and he suffered in the situation. In 1931 he decided to leave a quite successful career in Sweden and settle at Cranbrook Academy of Art, outside of Detroit, USA. Another twenty productive and successful years followed, after which he and his wife returned to Sweden and the Milles mansion in 1951, although the winters were spent in Rome, Italy. 

God, our Father, on the Rainbow

Photo: Inductiveload 

This is an artwork at Nacka Strand in the eastern suburbs of Stockholm. It stands more than 20 meters tall, made out of stainless steel. Carl Milles originally came up with the idea in 1946 for the newly created United Nations’ headquarters in New York. Although the project didn’t happen there, eventually, it was modelled in full scale by one of Milles’ American students, Marshall Fredericks, and inaugurated in Stockholm in 1995. Carl Milles was fascinated by astronomy throughout his entire life. Several of his works also depict a wrestling with existential questions, faith and the origin of the universe and mankind.

Photo: Holger Ellgaard  

In this fountain God Father stands atop the arch, assisted by an angel at the foot of it handing new stars to God Father, who then places them on the heaven. A similar theme is explored in several other of his works, like The hand of God(1953) that is exhibited at the Milles mansion as well as in USA, Japan, Australia and Indonesia.

The Angel. Photo: Holger Ellgaard  

Poseidon

Photo: W Carter  

Poseidon (1931) is possibly Milles’ most famous fountain. It is made out of bronze and has the very prominent position in Sweden’s second largest city, Gothenburg, and is cherished by the city’s inhabitants. Poseidon stands on a square surrounded by the city theatre, the city art museum and city concert hall. From there he overviews the Avenue all the way down to the Gothenburg harbor.

Photo: Albin Olsson

In this sculpture we find the theme of Greek and Roman ancient mythology as well as astronomy. Poseidon is the god of the sea in Greek mythology. Originally, Milles had in mind to name the statue Neptune, which is the Roman mythological god of the sea. Neptune is also one of the planets in our solar system. The moons surrounding Neptune all have names of Roman mythological sea creatures such as Triton, Naiad and Nereid. And indeed, they are all found among the many details of the sculpture.

Fountain of Faith

In the early 1940s, Carl Milles started work on his largest fountain group yet, the Fountain of Faith, for the cemetery in Falls Church outside Washington. It is located in National Memorial Park, a large cemetery which also displays a colossal cast of Milles’ Sunsinger.

The theme for the fountain is the meeting of persons who have died. Here, mothers are reunited with their children, sisters with their brothers, and wives with their husbands. All the figures represent people who the artist knew and loved during his life.

Woman reunited with her child is one of the details in this fountain. Carl Milles had during his life several times experienced how death separated mothers from their children. He himself was only four years old when his mother Walborg died after giving birth to his younger brother Stig.

Carl and Olga never had any children of their own. However, at Milles mansion, they often were visited by the children and grandchildren of their siblings. It is an interesting detail to take note of that Carl Milles is buried at the Milles mansion. This is noteworthy as in Sweden burials by law take place on sacred ground. This exception was granted by the Swedish King at the time.

According to one source, Carl Milles had just finished a short poem to be read at the inauguration of a replica of Angel with flute, when he apparently peacefully passed away in his armchair.

For further reading please visit www.millesgarden.se from which site this essay has benefitted greatly. 

Text: Stefan Rizell 
Translation: Zhang Yu

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The Master Builder: P.V. Jensen Klint http://en.tcgnordica.com/2020/the-master-builder-p-v-jensen-klint/ Sun, 08 Mar 2020 01:08:04 +0000 http://en.tcgnordica.com/?p=8471 This article is the first in a new series, where TCG Nordica every week will introduce a famous Scandinavian artist’s life and work.

The life of Klint

Peder Vilhelm Jensen Klint (1853-1930) is one of the greatest architects in Danish history, yet he himself would be everything else than pleased by being called an architect. Instead he would have preferred the title “Master Builder”.

Holsteinborg Castle as it looked when Klint lived there.

Klint grew up on the castle of Holsteinborg (H.C. Andersen incidentally wrote some of his fairy tales there) where his parents worked at the dairy. These grandiose surrounding no doubt contributed to Klint’s lifelong interest in architecture. However, it was only much later in his life that he started to design buildings. Before that he was educated first as a construction engineer, then as a painter, while also working as a mathematics teacher and trying his way at sculpting. We can see how he for many years had been working with subjects that was related to architecture in one way or another, but it was only when one of his friends in 1896 wanted to build a Villa, that Klint then aged 43 finally took the step. 

The villa Klint built for the composer Thorvald Aagaard in 1907. Notice the shape of the gable, and the brickwork along the roof.

Klint was a man of strong ideas regarding architecture, and from the beginning he was firmly opposed to the “academic architects” who (as Klint saw it) had a less than firm understanding of the technical details of construction. His ideal was medieval “master builder”, who was an architect, engineer and manual construction worker all in one person. To implement his ideas Klint started a movement of teaching brick masons to design buildings themselves. The simple villas with a focus on quality brickwork that this movement built are found all over Denmark today and are highly prized because of their durability and comfortability as a living space.

A typical Danish brick masons villa: Simple, but of high quality.

Klint also attacked the prevailing architectural style of the time, Neoclassicism. Neoclassicism was a style that took its inspiration in the architecture of ancient Rome and Greece. Klint thought that this style with its Mediterranean origins fitted neither the Danish climate or mentality, with its excessive decorations and its favoured building material, marble, which was foreign in Denmark. 

The Marble Church in Copenhagen is a good representative of the Neoclassicism.

In looking for an alternative to Neoclassicism, Klint once again turned to the Middle Ages: The Danish castles (such as the one he was raised on) and village churches that was found all over the country, built in that quintessential Danish building material, the clay brick, and in a style that had developed organically over a long period of time to fit the landscape. This was where Klint found the inspiration for his architectural style.

A Danish village church, of the type that is found in almost every Danish village.

Grundtvig’s Church

Klint’s unchallenged masterpiece is the Grundtvig’s Church, named after the Danish hymnwriter and educationist N.F.S. Grundtvig. It was built in the years 1921-1940 by only 11 masons so Klint could oversee quality more closely. Klint conceived it as “the cathedral in the style of the village church” and it indeed incorporates elements from both the Danish village churches and the big medieval gothic cathedrals found throughout Europe. 

In the manner of medieval churches Grundtvig’s Church was placed on top of a hill in Copenhagen giving clear lines of sight to and from the church in the surrounding areas. The surrounding buildings’ exterior was also designed by Klint to match the church, thus giving the church its own “village” which together with the gigantic size of the church creates an otherworldly, even eerie, atmosphere.

While inspired by medieval architecture, the style of the church is of course deeply original. From top to bottom it is built by yellow bricks, that inside the church have been hand polished, creating a lightness and making the hard bricks look soft. The total effect of the church, both inside and outside, is astonishing and like no other.

The influence of Klint

Klint’s work and ideas have had immense influence on later Danish architecture. Before him the clay brick was looked down upon as a building material not worthy of any serious architecture, but with Klint this changed completely. A good example of this can be seen in Aarhus University (see the picture), that is not only built in the same yellow brick so loved by Klint but is also inspired by Klint’s use of “crystalline” shapes.

All Klint’s three children were involved in either design or art and continued their fathers work ethic of attention to details and quality. Especially famous is Kaare Klint, the oldest son, who became a famous furniture designer. 

“The Church Chair” by Kaare Klint

Text: Skjold Andreas Arendt
Translation: Zhang Yu

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There is no winter that will not pass and there is no spring that will not come. http://en.tcgnordica.com/2020/there-is-no-winter-that-will-not-pass-and-there-is-no-spring-that-will-not-come/ Tue, 18 Feb 2020 06:55:29 +0000 http://en.tcgnordica.com/?p=8464

“Art gives us wings and carries us far far away” — Anton Chekhov 

 In the beginning of 2020, the COVID-19 virus silently started to spread in China, and then the world. It has cold heartedly taken many people’s lives and attacked  people’s health.Suddenly we have been dragged into a war without notification.
 In just a short month, we have experienced shock, fear, anger, grief, helplessness, and anxiety for the future. More than that, every family and individual has paid the price of their freedom. When locked down at home, many people’s only wish is to get back the life that the virus destroyed. Suddenly survival has become an urgent need for Chinese people even though we are in the 21st century. 

However, though disaster is heartless, humanity never loses its heart. So even though we are in the middle of disaster, the longing for beauty and goodness still rises from the human instinct. In this extraordinary situation, we see noble actions by ordinary people, and their stories touch all of us. In fact, greatness is formed by persisting every day, just as even the most powerful rapid is formed by the smallest of streams! Therefor, in these times when the virus recklessly swallows life and threatens all living beings, in the middle of disaster, each and every one of us need to choose to do good. No matter in small or in large, everyone has the ability to do good!


As a member of society, TCG NORDICA’s mission is to share the beauty of art with the world, because we believe that art does not only create beauty, but also provokes reflection, and expresses the innermost thoughts and feelings of mankind. 


Picasso believed that art could wash away from the soul the dust of everyday life. M. Edwards believed  that art could heal scars. So we wish to, limited by our own ability, do our best to accompany all of you with art and culture. 

In these extraordinary time our team wants to provide to all of you an FREE online platform, and to provide bilingual activities within three different fields. We will all get through these difficult times together by supporting each other among our families and friends!

1.    Arts and culture
a.    Music and Heart 
b.    Visual art
c.     Online English club
2.    Family relationships, parent-child activities 
a.    Family relationships
b.    Art oriented indoor activities
3.    Individual Care – Physical and Mental
a.    Body and Mind
b.    Deal with the Fear
c.     Trauma and healing

Due to technological limitations, online activities can only be held in smaller groups. We ask anyone interested to please sign up in the comments field below. We will accept attendees in the order that you have signed up. 


When registering please leave the following information: name / WeChat ID / class of interest.


After leaving your comment we will have someone in our staff contact you directly. 
Furthermore, anyone signed up for the winter camp who has NOT received a personal notification, please contact us. 

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TCG Nordica Spring Festival Break http://en.tcgnordica.com/2020/tcg-nordica-spring-festival-break/ Wed, 22 Jan 2020 09:46:17 +0000 http://en.tcgnordica.com/?p=8460 TCG Nordica will be closed due to spring festival holiday, from January 23rd to February 6th, 2020.
We welcome you to visit from February 7th.

TCG Nordica wishes you and your family a happy Spring Festival.

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Zai’s solo exhibition ‘Empty World’ http://en.tcgnordica.com/2019/zais-solo-exhibition-emptyworld/ Sun, 22 Dec 2019 02:25:51 +0000 http://en.tcgnordica.com/?p=8435
Artist:Zai Pengfei
Curator:Zhou Fengyi
Arts Consultants:Martin Haarr(NO)
Opening:2019.12.21 19:00pm
Duration: 2019.12.21-2020.2.25

Preface

Zai’s Lies 

I haven’t known Zai Pengfei for a long time. Before I met him, I heard that he went to study in Oslo University in Norway through TCG Nordica Artists Exchange Program. When I visited his studio for the first time, he showed me many of his art works he has created since university. His works in different stages carry different looks. Whenever I asked him about his original intention to create these works, he always smiled and responded to me, “I don’t know”, “it was for self-comfort”, or “I was just bored”. 

During our conversation, I found that Zai was full of ideas. He is very sensitive, and his mind is so active that new creativity can be ignited any time. However, he is not good at expressing himself. Perhaps when these things have been kept in his mind for a long time, it became hard to find a place to release them all. In this sense, many inspirations are floating in his mind like a boat without the topsail. But certainly, his heart has never stopped looking for directions. Therefore, during his time in Norway, his rebellious and helpless mental state made him more anxious and uneasy. 

During his time in Norway, because of cultural and climate differences, it intensified his nostalgic sentiments and loneliness. His questioning of “Who Am I”, the fear of growth, the confusion with life, and the longing for love all stimulated his desire for self-identification. These emotions will be gone as time goes by. The only thing can be perpetuated would probably the lines and squares on the canvas together with some fragmented memories. 

He handed his confusion and fear to time. Anxiety and uneasiness became the motivation for his creation. He expressed his vague emotions through “lies”, which became a remedy that helps ease his anxiety. He tries to build a bridge. However, the purpose is not to cross the river but just to enjoy the process. He wants to make himself tired. He wants to carve every cornerstone and feel the weight of it by himself. He also wants to kill time at the expanse of time because time is the biggest enemy of “time”. 

I see “lies” as the inspiration of his works and time as the object to be crusaded, because we live in such real and complex world. It is for this reason that such works become significant and valuable. The issues behind those works are not just individual concerns, but reflect the shared struggles in this contemporary society, especially among young folks. Zai’s Lies play the main role in the life situation of most youth groups. In between the tension of survival and dreams, infinite life and time, a sense of urgency has become a normal state of life. 

“Zai’s Lies” is a true lie and also a white lie, which is a channel for his self-release. Like a painkiller, we know that it can only paralyze the nerves temporarily, but it won’t bring ultimate healing. Despite this fact, people still choose to rely on it most of the time. 

Zhou Fengyi 
2019.12.14
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Bach goes to Nordica | Concert Dec 28th http://en.tcgnordica.com/2019/bach-goes-to-nordica-concert-dec-28th/ Wed, 18 Dec 2019 08:51:48 +0000 http://en.tcgnordica.com/?p=8413

Time
Dec. 28th
8.00 pm.

Tickets
120 RMB in advance
150 RMB in the door
75 RMB for children aged 3-12
FREE for children below 3

Place
F.3-B.1 the Second Avenue of Rain Town, Kunming

Bach and his music

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) is widely considered to be the greatest composer of all time. He wrote an incredible amount of music and his music has exercised an immense influence on western music. In spite of this, Bach was in his own time more famous as a performing musician than as a composer. 

 Especially famous was his virtuoso improvisations on keyboard instruments and this also spilled over into some of his compositions: During the concert Peter Arendt will play Bach’s three great harpsichord toccatas (played on Nordica’s grand piano).

“Toccata” comes from the Italian “toccare” and means to “touch”. It is a form of written down “improvisation” where the performer first “touches” the instrument in a short flourish where he tests the possibilities of the instrument and shows off his own skill. This is followed by a longer more structured main body of the piece.

In between the three toccatas we will hear a number of Bach’s most famous chorales and soprano arias, arranged specially by Peter for this concert so as to include Pipa and Erhu. 

The Musicians

Betty and Peter in their home in Denmark

Betty and Peter Arendt
Danish Betty and Peter Arendt are both classically educated musicians (as soprano and organist respectively). They always have made Western classical music but have also for decades travelled around the world and made music together with musicians from many countries: Armenia, Honduras, India, Madagascar, Philippines, Tanzania, Thailand, Zimbabwe, to name a few. Since the beginning they have always returned to Bach though, whose music they continue to perform at concerts, and have recorded on two CD’s. 
They have been in Kunming two times before, where they have performed both Chinese and Danish music.

Zhang Yu and Sun Yuming

Zhang Yu 张羽
Zhang Yu plays a variety of instruments, but in this concert, she will focus on the Erhu – an instrument whose timbre fits Bach’s melodies wonderfully.

Sun Yuming 孙毓茗
Sun Yuming is a professional musician from Kunming, who plays Pipa. She and Zhang Yu are old friends of Betty and Peter, and have toured in Scandinavia with them several times, where they have played both Chinese and Western music together.

Skjold Arendt
As the son of Betty and Peter, Skjold has been singing since he was a toddler. In this concert he will sing the bass parts in the chorales.

Program

Toccata for Harpsichord in D-major (BWV 912) – piano (11:30’’)
(Presto)
Allegro
Adagio
(Andante)
Con discrezione
Presto

Aria from Cantata no. 36 (BWV 36,7) – soprano & piano

Air from Orchestral Suite no. 3 (BWV 1068,2) – erhu, pipa & piano

Choral from Cantata no. 1 (BWV 1,6) – soprano, basso, erhu, pipa & piano

Toccata for Harpsichord in e-minor (BWV 914) – piano (7:30’’)
(Allegro)
Un poco Allegro
Adagio
Fuga

Choral from Cantata no. 79 (BWV 79,3) – soprano, basso, erhu, pipa & piano

Choral from Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248,42) – soprano, basso, erhu, pipa & piano

– interval –

Toccata for Harpsichord in G-major (BWV 916) – piano (9:00’’)
(Allegro)
Adagio
Allegro e presto

Aria from Cantata no. 82 (BWV 82,3) – soprano & piano

Total time: approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes including 10 minutes break.

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Lucia Concert http://en.tcgnordica.com/2019/lucia-concert-2/ Tue, 10 Dec 2019 07:43:39 +0000 http://en.tcgnordica.com/?p=8403

Time: Dec 14th 20:00

Tickets
In-door: ¥40
 Pre-sale: ¥30
Under 12: ¥20
Under 3 free entrance

Tradition has it that Lucia should wear ‘light in her hair’, which in practice means a crown of electric candles in a wreath on her head. Each of her handmaidens carries a candle as well. Parents gather in the dark with their mobile cameras at theready.

The star boys, who like the handmaidens are dressed in white gowns, carry stars on sticks and have tall paper cones on their heads. The brownies bring up the rear, carrying small lanterns.

There is a special atmosphere when the lights are dimmed and the sound of the children singing grows as they enter from an adjacent room.

Check out TCG Nordica’s WeChat to buy tickets in pre-sale.

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