TCG Nordica Stimulating reflection on human worth as expressed in various Art Forms. Wed, 12 Aug 2020 12:29:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Past Worlds | Concert Wed, 12 Aug 2020 12:26:36 +0000

Saturday August 15th
08:00 PM

F.3 -B.1 the Second Avenue of Rain Town, Kunming
TCG Nordica International Arts Center
+86 13908804673

Presale/Regular: 70/90 rmb
Family ticket (two adults and two children aged 7-12): 110 rmb
Children aged under 7 years are free

Buy your tickets on our WeChat or in the door.

The world of the past full of life and stories are brought to us and kept alive in the words of songs and poems. Having a mind to taste a little bit of those times, we decided to make this concert.
Stories are places filled with descriptions, approximation and guesses of the past, where we can give free rein to our imagination. Whether it is the chanting melodies of the European Middle Ages or the Tang poets entrusting their emotions to the moon, I think that if we use music as the vehicle of passing these treasures on, we can combine them into a new splendid story. 
For this concert I have freely composed melodies for the words of five Tang Poems. These will stand side by side with improvisations over old Scandinavian melodies.
To join me I have invited the talented young musician George who will join me in common creation. I have also invited the spirited dancer Chen Jia who with her flowing limbs will make words come alive.

Text: Zhang Yu


Chen Jia – Dancing

Zhang Yu – Composer, Strings, Percussion and Singing
George – Piano
Exhibition | The Stars Scattered In the World are All Past Dreams Thu, 06 Aug 2020 10:07:35 +0000

Artist: Yang Xueyong
 Curator: Cui Fuli

Opening: Saturday August 8th,
 Duration: 2020.8.8-2020.9.9
Weekly Opening Days: Tuesday-Sunday

Location :
TCG Nordica International Arts Center
润城第二大道商1栋3层日新路与前兴路交叉口 F.3 -B.1 the Second Avenue of Rain Town, Kunming

Surgical mask and Lottery Ticket
20*15 cm, 2020

 This is not a dream series  – Creative Speech 

Every street and community has its own lottery. “Lottery” has a mythological meaning in which fates can change overnight, are dreams everyone can indulge in. The people who buy lottery tickets comes from all kinds of social strata, different ages and backgrounds, but they all have some things in common: They all want to be rich overnight and to change their fates. They also believe that this time they perhaps will be the “lucky ones”. As a result, the masses with this hopeful attitude have invested in this low-risk, high-return industry and indulged in it.

The ‘This is not a dream’-series has 365 works in total, utilizing techniques og traditional realistic style combined with the “scraping music” of lottery to create symbols. Combining the lottery number, lottery text and auspicious Chinese graphs with the traditional realistic style to create a visual effect that cheats our vision. The single graph for wealth symbolizes the desire for luxury goods, smart cars, the newest smartphone and other electronics, high-grade cosmetics, etc., all according to the individuals’ different situations, dreams and desires. There are many symbols of material welfare in my pieces of art: real estate certificates, passports, graduation certifocates from famous universities, marriage certificates, safety vaccines, empty medicine packings, ivory and rhinoceros horns, monkey brains, panaceas, train ticket from spring festival, health insurance cards, divorce certificates, cooking oil, healthy bodies, hearts, kidneys, birthday cakes, koi and so on. These symbols are also shaped according to contemporary and ever-changing circumstances: a telling example is the recent pandemic with the omnipresent need for PPE and various more doubtful means to protect ourselves against COVID-19.

These items are all wanted by people, but many items that many people cannot afford to buy, and there are even items that no matter how rich you are, because they cannot be found or perhaps doesn’t even exist. 365 can represent the individual 365 days of desires and dreams, where these symbols are placed and presented together. It is the concentrated presentation of the psychological landscape of people in present day society and it is also the reflection of all kinds of desires, worship of money, impetuousness, depressions, helplessness, hope, abnormalisms, speculations and so on in the present society. And people don’t think about it. Is this really a dream? Or not?

– Yang Xueyong  2020

洛阳纸贵 彩票
20*15 cm, 2020

Independent curator review 

Yang Xueyong’s ‘This is not a Dream’ is a series of comprehensive material works created by “scraping music lottery”. Most of the works are high-grade luxury goods, college notices, marriage certificates and other images from daily life. However, behind every seemingly wanton and teasing image, is reflection of the inflated desires of countless vulnerable individuals. Each “lottery ticket”reflects not only the “sentient phase” of the new consumerist society, but also a fresh and real individual. Perhaps, the viewer will unconsciously associate his way of creation with the critical attitude of the artist, and I do not deny Yang Xueyong’s concern and reflection on reality in his works. But what I am more concerned about is the potential truth, cruelty and helplessness of his work, and this kind of desire has become more and more “pollution-free”. Yang Xueyong plays a dual role in the process of creation. He seems to be both a dreamer and a cold-minded viewer. He is not only the subject, but also the object, he is a dreammaker, but also a broken dreamer. ‘This is not a dream’ is mixed with contradictions and ambiguous. 

– Independent curator and art critic Cui Fuli March 11, 2020

Yang Xueyong

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Edvard Grieg | A Rumble from the Mountains, a Dance in the Fjords Sat, 18 Jul 2020 23:49:29 +0000 This is the twentieth essay in the series, where TCG Nordica every week introduce a famous Scandinavian artist’s life and work.

Signed picture of Grieg (1888).

Edvard Grieg is the Nordic composer whose music is most well-known throughout the world. This is largely due to the music he composed for the theatre play Peer Gynt by Henrik Ibsen, where evergreens such as the lovely “Morning Mood” and the absolute banger “In the Hall of the Mountain King” are to be found. A more complete work is his magnificent piano concerto, which is one of the most played in the world.

Grieg conducting a choir of pigs – perhaps more friendly teasing than malicious satire?

As the life of European artists of his time goes, Edvard Hagerup Grieg’s (1843-1907) story is conspicuously familiar. He was born into a bourgeoise family on the western coast of Norway in the city of Bergen. He grew up in a home with music, his mother starting to teach him piano when he was six years old. At the age of 15 Edvard met the famous Norwegian violinist Ole Bull who recognized Edvard’s talent, and convinced his parents to send him to Leipzig, the centre of European music at the time, to study music. Though he enjoyed the many concerts there (the conservatory students had free access to the general rehearsals of the legendary Gewandhaus Orchestra), Edvard was never satisfied with the teaching in composition there, of which he later wrote: “Naturally, I did learn something there, but my individuality was still a closed book to me.”

A young Grieg around the time he went to Leipzig in 1858.

Still, Grieg’s path to become a great composer continued. In 1861 he had his debut as a pianist at a concert in Sweden, and after a spell back in Norway, where he had some of his own music performed at a public concert for the first time, he went to Copenhagen in 1863 for further studies. Here he met Danish composer Niels Gade, a pioneer of the “Nordic sound” and a great name in Europe at the time, though less known today. Later he would often come back to Denmark and it was here Denmark that Grieg met Nina Hagerup, his first cousin, a soprano whom he married in 1867. Late in Grieg’s life he wrote of her:

“I loved a young girl who had a fantastic voice and an equally fantastic ability to convey [music]. That girl became my wife and my partner in life until this day. For me she has been – I dare say it – the only true interpreter of my songs.”

Edvard at the piano accompanying Nina. Painting by Norwegian-Danish painter Peder Severin Krøyer.

At a trip to Rome in 1869/1870 Grieg among others met the superstar pianist Franz Liszt and the Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen, who later invited Grieg to compose music for his play Peer Gynt. Grieg was generally spending a lot of timing touring through Europe as a conductor, but he preferred to spend his summers in Norway. In 1884 he bought a plot south of Bergen where he had a villa Troldhaugen (“Troll’s hill’) build. Later Troldhaugen would be the setting for Grieg’s famous piano piece “Wedding Day at Troldhaugen” written to celebrate Grieg and Nina’s silver wedding anniversary.

Troldhaugen now houses a museum for Edvard Grieg.

Grieg’s relationship with Nina without doubt provided the inspiration for his (love) songs, but what about all his other music? Since his time in Leipzig Grieg had suffered from an illness in his lungs, which would kill him in the end, but unlike his great German source of inspiration Robert Schumann, Grieg had no major personal crises that shaped his artistic career. Rather, Grieg drew on his surroundings for inspiration: The Norwegian folk music and the landscape around Bergen where he grew up – some of the most dramatic in the world.

Hill in Nærøy Fjord, Painting of a landscape not far from Bergen by Grieg’s contemporary Anders Askevold.

Like the slightly later composer Jean Sibelius (1865-1957), whom we have written about earlier, was in Finland, Grieg was a central actor in building a national identity for Norway. His dramatic piano concerto creates pictures of Norwegian mountains in the mind of the listener, while other of his works are filled with a radiant light, that can only come from the summers he spend in Norway, with their long days and short nights. Even more than the Norwegian nature, Grieg’s music is full of elements from Norwegian folk music: A lot of his piano music is more or less direct arrangements of tunes, but in almost all is music the influence is felt. Again, the piano concerto comes to mind: The opening motif in the piano in the first movement is a common element in the vernacular music, and so is the dance rhythm and harmonies in the final movement.

Grieg portrayed by Erik Werenskjold in 1902 a few years before his death.

Recommended listening:

The music to Peer Gynt in its full length runs 90 minutes. It is now usually condensed into the form of two orchestral suites with highlights. In the suites the choir and solo singers of the original score are removed. This is a pity. Listen instead to this recording with Grieg’s own Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, where the Piano Concert in a minor also is to be found:

After this essay we will take a summer break and return in the autumn with more essays.

Text: Skjold Andreas Arendt

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Jørgen-Frantz Jacobsen | Passion on the Faroe Islands Sun, 12 Jul 2020 08:14:10 +0000 This is the nineteenth essay in the series, where TCG Nordica every week introduce a famous Nordic artist’s life and work.

“I believe that everyone must rejoice in his destiny, in the fact that he has lived at all and achieved a destiny. Destiny is the only sure asset.”

Jørgen-Frantz Jacobsen (1900-1938) is the author of the novel “Barbara”, the only Faroese book that have become an international best-seller. The author himself however died the year before the book was published in 1939.

Tórshavn in 1899, the year before Jacobsen was born.

The 29th of November 1900 Jørgen-Frantz Jacobsen was born in Tórshavn, the capital of the Faroe Islands. His father was a merchant of mixed Danish, Faroese and Swedish descent, while his mother was Faroese through and through, and he grew up speaking Danish with his father and Faroese with his mother and siblings. In 1916 he moved to Denmark where he after finishing high school started studying History and French at the University of Copenhagen. In 1922 he fell ill with tuberculosis and long stays at treatment centres delayed his studies until he finally acquired his master’s degree in 1932. 

Jacobsen (second from the left) together with three other Faroese authors and pioneers of modern Faroese literature. 

Throughout his time in Denmark he engaged himself in Faroese nationalism (the Faroe Islands being a part of the Kingdom of Denmark, then and now), and he wrote on Faroese history, culture, language and nature. In the many letters he wrote to his friend the great Faroese author William Heinesen (from where the quote in the top of this essay also is taken), Jacobsen expressed a love and acceptance for life itself, with both its beauty and hardships: 

“It is precisely the enormous tension between sorrow and joy that makes life great … I have had my greatest moments when the sparks have flown between sorrow and joy. And death is fundamentally the brilliant relief to life… Life is great and demonic, worthy of being loved and obeyed. And the greatest thing in life is again resignation.”

The unforgiving nature of the Faroe Islands hints at where Jacobsen got his views on the greatness of life and the need for resignation to it.

Among the sorrows of Jacobsen’s life of homesickness to the Faroe Islands and tuberculosis, his perhaps greatest sorrow was the relationship to his cousin Estrid Bannister, with whom Jacobsen was deeply in love. Estrid on the other hand saw Jacobsen only as a friend (if a close one) and she often told him of her many relationships with other men. This difficult relationship provided one of the main inspirations for Jacobsen’s Magnus Opus he began writing in 1934, the novel Barbara. 

The other great inspiration came from Faroese history of which Jacobsen had a deep understanding. The novel is based on the semi-historical legend of the 18th century Beinta Broberg who through her beauty and elegance caused the death of her first two husband’s and great sorrows to the third. But in contrast to the legend, the enchanting woman in Jacobsen’s novel (here called Barbara) is not evil: The story tells of a Danish priest coming to the Faroe Islands and though warned by the locals of her earlier relationships that both ended in disaster, he falls head over heels in love with Barbara. She also loves him and in spite of an affair between Barbara and a visiting French sailor, they marry. However, the arrival of a young student from Copenhagen spells disaster: On a visit in the line of duty to the remote island of Mykines the priest is caught by bad weather and cannot return home for 11 days. When he finally returns Barbara has left for Tórshavn with the other man. When her new love leaves for Denmark without her, Barbara stands in the end, not as seductress who has got what she deserved, but as a pitiable human being who’s tragic inability to control her own emotions causes the unhappiness of herself and the people around her. 

Mykines, the little island where the priest in Barbara is forced to stay for 11 days. 

The whole story is permeated with the burning jealousy of the priest (Jacobsen based the character on himself) and is placed in the lyrical setting of the harsh landscape of the Faroe Islands. 

In 1938 Jacobsen finally succumbed to his illness after nearly 16 years. His Faroese author friends had Barbara published in 1939 and it immediately became a success. It has been translated into many western languages but, as of yet, not Chinese. It has however been made into film twice, first in West Germany in 1961 and then in Denmark in 1997 – the latter can be found on Chinese streaming services.  

Text: Skjold Andreas Arendt

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Karin Larsson | A trendsetting designer long before her time Sun, 05 Jul 2020 00:31:15 +0000 This is the eighteenth essay in the series, where TCG Nordica every week introduce a famous Nordic artist’s life and work.

Karin Bergöö was born in 1859 and grew up in Hallsberg where her father was a successful businessman. Karin’s artistic talent showed itself early and she began to study art at the Arts and Crafts School (Slöjdskolan) in Stockholm. Following this she went on to the Art Academy (Konstakademien) 1877-1882.

After leaving the Art Academy she moved to the Scandinavian artists’ colony in the little village of Grez outside Paris. While she was there, she met Carl Larsson and fell head over heels in love with him – we have published an article about him that you can read here. They were married in 1883 and their first daughter Suzanne was born in 1884.

From art to the home

They moved back to Sweden in 1885, first to Stockholm and then to Gothenburg where Carl worked as a teacher at Valands Art College. Karin had stopped painting and devoted all of her energy to their large family (eight children) and the home.

In 1888 Karin’s father Adolf Bergöö gave Carl and Karin a small house, Lilla Hyttnäs. The couple transformed the house from a simple timbered cottage built in 1837 into one of the world’s best known and most personal artist’s residences.

From home to art

Karin’s creative power and artistic taste is a very important component in Carl’s art. The bold interior decoration, the modern textiles, the rustic furniture – most of which she designed herself. One could say that their artistic talents coexisted in powerful symbiosis – she created the home that he depicted and together they created the motifs that have come to characterise the picture of Sweden that is cherished the world over.

Karin has finally emerged from the shadow cast by her husband. The breakthrough came with the exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London in 1997, from which the following text is taken:

“Karin was Carl Larsson’s muse. So thoughtful and quiet, he portrayed her as his idol, forever young. She was, in fact, hard-working, hard-headed and highly creative. Carl relied upon her as a critic of his work. She trained as a painter at the Academy of Fine Arts in Stockholm and Paris. After the birth of Suzanne in 1884 she turned her artistry to decorating the home, especially to weaving and embroidery. She also designed furniture and her own and her children’s clothes. Her most creative period was between 1900 and 1910.

Karin’s textiles were absolutely original. Pre-modern in character they introduced a new abstract style in tapestry. Her bold compositions were executed in vibrant colours; her embroidery frequently used stylised plants. In black and white linen, she reinterpreted Japanese motifs. Technically adventurous, she explored folk techniques and experimented with others. A good example of her bold weaving is the tapestry ”The Four Elements” that she composed in 1903 to be hung above the new sofa in the dining room.

At Sundborn the Larssons developed an aesthetic partnership. He was effusive, covering the walls with foliage and flowers, she arranged the living flowers, but in her designs austere and often abstract. The colours of the interior seem to have been jointly decided. Their combined contributions created a perfect whole”

Published with the permission of
Translation:Zhang Yu 

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Buxtehude: Splendour in the Pipes Sun, 28 Jun 2020 08:53:40 +0000 This is the seventeenth essay in the series, where TCG Nordica every week introduce a famous Nordic artist’s life and work.

The only surviving painting of Buxtehude is Johannes Voorhout’s cheerful “Musical Company”, where we find Buxtehude in the lower left corner playing a viol.

Readers of this series will perhaps have noticed that even though we have by now introduced artists of all kinds and from almost all parts of northern Europe, they are all relatively recent. The oldest one was born in 1822 less than 200 years ago – a relatively short period seen in the larger picture of the history of civilization in Northern Europe. There are several reasons that explain why it is so, even if there are few or no good reasons why it should be so. 

One reason is simply that the art of earlier times is often less accessible. Language can be a barrier, and artworks gets destroyed or become lost to a variety of reasons. Descriptions of performing artists such as actors, dancers and musicians are plenty, but only relatively recently have technology found ways of capturing sound and moving pictures, making these artists available to people across time and space.

Another, and perhaps more important reason is that as art gets older it can seem to have little relevance for us. The world of 350 years ago is simply a lot stranger to us than the much more recognizable world of 150 years ago. As social, political and religious contexts change so does art. It is often more difficult to fit early artists in to the histories of modern states taught in schools, exactly because those states (and their art) have changed dramatically since.

The house where Buxtehude lived in Helsingør, Denmark.

The life and career of Dietrich Buxtehude (1637-1707) is an excellent example of this complexity. He born either in Holstein in northern Germany where the Danish king ruled as duke at the time, or, more probably, in Helsingborg, a part of Denmark until 1658 when it became a part of Sweden. Buxtehude followed in his father’s footsteps as an organist, first in Helsingborg in the years 1657-1658 and then in the Danish city of Helsingør 1660-1668. In 1668 he became organist in Marienkirche in Lübeck, Northern Germany, one of the most prestigious positions an organist could obtain at the time, and he stayed there until his death in 1707. While the texts of his vocal music are all in Latin and German, there are some indications that he spoke Danish with his family. Also, in his obituary a Latin Lübeck newspaper wrote that he “recognized Denmark as his fatherland”, though by now it should be clear that the Denmark mentioned in the newspaper was quite different than the Denmark today.

The organ in Skt. Mariæ Kirke in Helsingør, Denmark, where Buxtehude worked in the years 1660-1668. The façade of the organ looks as it did in Buxtehude’s time, but the instrument went through several internal changes through the centuries. In 1997 it was restored to sound as it did in Buxtehude’s time.

How Buxtehude identified himself is in many ways quite unimportant to us. His music, in any case, had nothing especially Danish about it. While it is filled with a radiant light, this is not the light of the Nordic summer nights we find in Nordic composers 200 years later, but rather the heavenly light of German high baroque: A special Nordic style in classical music simply hadn’t been invented yet. Buxtehude’s instead played and wrote in “Stylus Fantasticus” or the Fantastic Style, an Italo-Germanic style of music in vogue at the time, characterized by short contrasting episodes in the music, elaborate ornamentations and virtuoso improvisation-like passages. Most famous of all Buxtehude’s music is his majestic prelude in C major, but he composed a whole treasure chamber both organ and other music of which a few highlights are recommended in the bottom of this essay. His music is regarded as one of the finest examples of this style, and he as one of the greatest organ composers of all time. 

The last page of the manuscript to Buxtehude’s great oratorio “Membra Jesu Nostri”. The music is written down using tablature notation indicating fingering instead of pitch. In the lower right corner Buxtehude added a dedication of the work: “Soli Deo Gloria” (“God’s glory only). Other great baroque composers such as Bach and Händel followed a similar practise.

In 1703 the ageing Buxtehude was considering retiring from his busy position in Marienkirche. Two of the late baroque giants, Georg Friederich Händel and the now largely forgotten Johann Mattheson, both of them still young at the time, went to Lübeck to see if they could get the job. In accordance with the custom, one condition to get the job was to marry Buxtehude’s oldest surviving daughter (just as Buxtehude had married his predecessor’s daughter). Upon seeing the daughter both of them declined the job and left the day after their arrival!

Another story showing the respect and influence Buxtehude commanded among musicians at his time, tells us of how a 20 year old Johann Sebastian Bach, the greatest western composer of all time, in 1705 walked roughly 400 kilometres from Arnstadt to Lübeck, where he stayed for three months to hear Buxtehude play the organ, and in Bach’s own words, “to comprehend one thing and another about his art”. Bach’s own compositions shows clear influences from Buxtehude.

The great Marienkirche in Lübeck where Buxtehude was organist more than half his life. In 1942 the church (including, sadly, the organs) was completely destroyed during an allied bombing raid on the city. After the war the church was rebuild.

If societies of earlier times can seem foreign to us, then the art they produced is surely one of the best ways of bridging that gap. Listen to Buxtehude’s music and step into a world full of splendour. 

Recommended listening:

Buxtehude’s organ music is part of the standard repertoire for organists today and several recordings of his complete organ works has been made. Here are three of the most beloved of Buxtehude’s organ pieces in a recording by Italian Simone Stella:

BuxWV 137: Prelude, Fugue and Chaconne in C major

BuxWV 149: Prelude in g minor

BuxWV 160: Chaconne in e minor

Apart from his famous organ compositions, Buxtehude also wrote a lot of other music. One gem is the “O fröliche Stunden” (“Oh happy times”), here with the wonderful soprano Emma Kirkby, from an album on which other of Buxtehude’s vocal music also can be found. 

BuxWV 84: O fröliche Stunden, o frohliche Zeit

Text: Skjold Andreas Arendt

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Edvard Munch Sun, 21 Jun 2020 07:48:26 +0000 This is the sixteenth essay in the series, where TCG Nordica every week introduce a famous Scandinavian artist’s life and work.

If we have to name one Norwegian painter, and one only, it will for sure be Edvard Munch (1863-1944). Reference works all over the world have articles about him and even if his name was not recognized, one of his paintings is a best known worldwide. It is “The Scream”.

“The Scream”

Postcards, T-shirts, reproductions, and new artworks use this image.

It has become an icon for expressionism, the new art style at the time of Edvard Munch. Munch painted several versions of it as well as wood cuts. It expresses despair, protest, anxiety.

An Andy Warhol print version of “The Scream”.

On a background of a multi-red sky, a person is leaning on a fence, a line leading endlessly to the background of the picture. The motif of a distorted face in a black silhouette is like a visual sign for a cry. It is a picture of emotions more than of what a man looks like. Typical for Edvard Munch’s pictures, it is painted with long brush strokes and strong colours that does not submit to the rules of painting at the time. It was sensational in its own time and in retrospect, it has become an icon of expressionism as a style. It is not about rendering the subject according to what it looks like, but by how it feels. Proportions, colour reproduction and details in the subject are expressions of moods in the painter. Whoever sees the picture recognizes the feeling. This picture belongs to the new fresh and raw way of painting called expressionism. The pictures say something that words cannot express.

This same style of painting is seen in “Despair”.


This is an edition of The Scream in which a person leans to the same railing, the same sky shows the connection to The Scream. The painting is titled “Despair” and we see the same long, sensitive lines painted with strokes that empty the paint in contiguous coats.

Edvard Munch spent years before he arrived at this expressive art. He painted his way through the current styles of painting where Impressionism was prominent. Impressionism reproduced a subject based on how it was visually perceived. Munch’s search for showing emotions in the picture was expressed early on by his choice of motive. “The Sick Child” is an emotional painting of one of Munch’s loved ones on her death bed, where the mother mourns. The picture shows the mother’s grief, but also the artist’s despair at losing a loved one.

“The Sick Child”

From “The Sick Child” to “The Scream” a new art style was created. Influenced from what Edvard Munch saw of art on his travels, especially in France, he left what he saw as a romantic imagery with emphasis on the impression of colours. From then on, we see an art of expression that changed people’s perception of what a painting can be, from the beautiful to the expressive.

It did not happen without protest. When Edvard Munch first showed this type of paintings in Germany, the exhibition was closed after a few hours. The images were too challenging.

“Evening on Karl Johan Street”

The cultured elite did not want to see themselves portrayed in such a way. The secret emotions: Unhappy love, jealousy, depression, loneliness, despair should not be something the viewer was forced to endure at an art exhibition.


Psychology was a new science in which doctor Sigmund Freud put forward theories about sexuality as a driving force in human behaviour. Edvard Munch painted this force into pictures that were perceived as obscene. “Vampire” as an expression of desire, has colours and lines that emphasize the fierceness in the relationship between woman and man.


Madonna is a returning theme with Munch. Framed with sperm in undulating motion around the image, it leaves us in no doubt about the strong feelings described.

Edvard Munch lived in a small cabin on the seashore of Åsgårdstrand, a town by the Oslo fjord in Norway. His art expresses his own strong emotions. In some portraits he painted of famous people, emotions are revealed, often with a dramatic light, shadows and colours, but without detail.

Munch painted several portraits of fellow artists. Here is one he painted in 1892 of the Swedish polymath playwright August Strindberg.

Edvard Munch’s art has been left as one of Norway’s best-known contributions to world art. His paintings were collected at the Munch Museum in Oslo. His entire collection has now moved to the new national museum, soon ready for opening in central Oslo.

“Self Portrait with Cigarette”

Text: Alfred Vaagsvold
Translation from Norwegian: Grethe Raddum

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Aron of Kangeq | Carver of Legends Sun, 14 Jun 2020 04:16:19 +0000 This is the fifteenth essay in the series, where TCG Nordica every week introduce a famous Nordic artist’s life and work.

When Aron was born in 1822 in the settlement of Kangeq close to Nuuk, few would have guessed that he would grow up to become the father of modern Greenlandic Art (as opposed to traditional decorative and religious art).

Kangeq, where Aron was born, around the turn of the 20th century. The settlement was abandoned in the 1960’s.

Aron was, like many other people in Greenland at the time, at first engaged in catching seals. It was tough business and when Aron fell ill with tuberculosis around the age of 30, he had to stay in bed and would only be able to return to seal hunting for shorter periods later in his life. Aron, however, was a member of the Moravian mission, and because of this he could both read and write, a skill that he soon put to good use.

Hunters setting out to sea in their kayaks.

In 1848 the Danish geographer Hinrich Rink came to Greenland (a Danish colony at the time) for the first time and he fell in love with Inuit people. He devoted himself to promotion of self-rule and Inuit culture, and among other things Rink in 1858 invited Inuit to write down and illustrate legends until then old orally and send them to him. 

Aron responded by writing down several legends and richly illustrating them with comic-book like woodcuts bringing the stories to live. Below are eight woodcuts depicting the legend of the hero Aqissiaq. The seventh and eighth depicts Aqissiaq first racing then wrestling, both to a draw, with another famous inuit, an

The legends and illustrations that Rink received was edited and published in both Greenlandic and Danish, in a book in which Aron’s contribution not surprisingly took the seat of honour. Recognizing Aron’s talent, Rink send him paper and colours, that Aron used draw vivid illustrations of Inuit stories, such as the gory one below where a hunter (standing behind a pillar in the second drawing) upon coming home finds his whole family brutally massacred.

In another watercolour drawing we are shown the story of old Kiviok (furthest left) who returns home after a journey of many years. The first person who greets him is his son, who was an infant when Kiviok left, but now a full-grown hunter, standing on a whale (second from the left).

In 1869 Aron finally succumbed to the tuberculosis. After his death, his drawings and woodcuts were mostly forgotten, but in the 1960 they were rediscovered, and has since then exercised great influence upon Greenlandic art.

Some of the woodcuts deals with the encounter and conflicts between the Inuit and the Norsemen, who had colonized parts of Greenland during the Viking age. The Norsemen disappeared from Greenland for unclear reasons at least 300 years (probably more) before Aron made his woodcuttings – a testament to the persistency of oral history. In this cutting we are shown the Inuit Kaisape standing over the body of the Norse chieftain Ungortok.

Text: Skjold Andreas Arendt

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Tools of Expression | Mixed Media Arts Event Tue, 09 Jun 2020 05:37:59 +0000

Tao Fa brandishes his brush in a flowing manner pregnant with freedom, visibly spirited. Space, time, mountains, water, clouds, birds, people, ghosts and gods are all connected and all have expressions.

Tao Fa’s conjures up realms with paint and ink. I want to strike my harp and explore those realms with tunes, I want to search for the place where the tangible and intangible collides and becomes one.

I also have the pleasure to present Tao Fa’s friend Qian Li. His guqin and my guzheng are separate, but through improvisation we will make them sing together. We will also interact with Tao Fa, and with a bit of luck, we will unite our three different “Tools of Expression” to a greater whole, in which we can catch  glimps of the enigmas nature and life itself.

After the performance we invite you to a cup of tea, to enjoy Tao Fa’s paintings and to talk with us about art, life and whatever you feel like.

张羽 Zhang Yu – Guzheng
千里 Qian Li – Guqin
陶发 Tao Fa – Painting and dancing
Selma Lagerlöf | Modernist and Popular Storyteller Sun, 07 Jun 2020 07:32:14 +0000 This is the fourteenth essay in the series, where TCG Nordica every week introduce a famous Scandinavian artist’s life and work.

Lagerlöf portrayed by Swedish painter Carl Larsson (you can read our article about him here).

The Swedish author Selma Lagerlöf (1858-1940) is the first out of four great Nordic female storytellers. She is followed by the Norwegian Sigrid Undset (1882-1949), the Danish Karen Blixen (1885-1962, you can read our previous article about her here) and the Finnish-Swedish Sally Salminen (1906-1976).

These four authors all have in common that their authorships are placed in extension of the Nordic literary movement ‘The Modern Breakthrough’ – which in turn where followed by another literary movement, ‘The Popular Breakthrough’.

All these four women also possess a remarkable ability to tell stories. Apart from that they are very different authors. 

Largerlöf on a 1959 Soviet Union stamp.

The Modern Breakthrough was launched with the lectures by the Danish literature critic Georg Brandes at Copenhagen University in 1871. Brandes did away with the romantic and mythical understanding of nature that had dominated the 19th century, and he criticized the Church. Instead he advocated for a realistic literature and a biological understanding of humans, that opened possibilities to write about topics what had until then been seen as improper topics for serious literature: The sexuality of men and women.

Selma Lagerlöf was born the 20th of November 1858 at the small manor Mårbacka in Värmland in central Sweden. In Stockholm she took an education to become a teacher and then worked as a teacher on a girl school for ten years. This is the period in which she began writing. 

Mårbacka as it looked before a major rebuilding in 1912.

Lagerlöf had her first great breakthrough with her novel Gösta Berling’s Saga from 1891 about the irresist ible and romantic priest Gösta Berling. As the majority of her stories, the novel has its roots in tales from Lagerlöf’s own home country in Värmland – and with real people as inspiration for her colourful characters.

Lagerlöf’s longest novel is loosely based on reality and chronicles the tale of the Swedish farmers from Dalarna who upon a religious awakening emigrates to Jerusalem (1901). Lagerlöf herself journeyed to Palestine in 1900-1901 to collect material for this grand story.

    Her famous children’s book The Wonderful Adventures of Nils (1906)is at one and the same time a fantastic tale of a naughty boy who gets turned into a ‘Tomte’ (a kind of mischievous Scandinavian Christmas gnome) and a book about Sweden’s nature and geography. Of all Lagerlöf’s books this one is the most read.

A staging of The Wonderful Adventures of Nils performed during Children’s Day celebrations in Shenzhen 2017.

The Emperor of Portugallia (1914) tells the tale of the poor and disillusioned worker Jan in Skrolycka whose life is changed completely upon the birth of his daughter Klara Fina Gulleborg. It is the most tragic of Lagerlöf’s tales (the daughter ends up as a prostitute) and it is the one closest to reality.

Throughout Lagerlöf’s work are traces that lead us to her own childhood that, if adventurous, not always was happy. For a period of her childhood she was suffering from a paralysis in her legs preventing her from walking. She always had a very close bond to her parents – so much harder then,  must it have been to watch her spirited, yet drunkard father lieutenant Erik Gustaf Lagerlöf loose the family home Mårbacka in 1889. Recreating the ruptured childhood became a driving force through Selma’s life, and in 1910 she bought back Mårbacka, using funds from the Nobel Prize in literature that she received the previous year.

Lagerlöf receiving the Nobel Prize in literature in 1909. Drawing from Svenska Dagbladet (Swedish Daily).

Selma Lagerlöf’s works has many aspects: The struggle for female emancipation, an indignation towards social injustice and not least an irresistible humour and kind and loyal irony towards the in part real characters who roam act in her books. She has written religious tales, ghost stories, family chronicles, and descriptions of places not just in her own home country but also for instance in a novel based in Sicily, with the curious title The Miracles of Antichrist (1897), that tells of a worker rebellion against the petrified Church. 

First and foremost, however, all of Lagerlöf’s works follow an inner logic, where the plot always takes precedence over everything else. That makes Selma Lagerlöf one of the most virtuoso writers in Northern Europe. And with that, she also leaves her clear footprints in later Swedish literature, not least in the children’s books of Astrid Lindgren (1907-2002) in whose stories the plot always takes precedence over any potential message.

An aged Lagerlöf in her study at Mårbacka.

Lagerlöf never married but had a very close and affectionate relationship to two other women, the author Sophie Elkan and the politician and women’s rights activist Valborg Olander.

Selma Lagerlöf died 81 years old the 16th of March 1940. At that time, she was energetically engaged in helping German artists and intellectuals escaping Nazi Germany. Both as a human and as an author Lagerlöf was exceptionally generous.

Lagerlöf in 1881.

All of the works mentioned in this essay has been translated into English.

Text: Peter Andreas Arendt

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