Young, daring and goal-reaching. The one who does not follow rules. One day, he simply decided that he doesn’t want to be yet another email in someone’s mailbox, just borrowed a car and drove to Illums Bolighus with his art works. Now, a couple of days ago, he was already exhibiting the art works for a number of visitors. “I’m a visual artist. My outlook, no matter what I do is artistic…” – humbly says Arun Benjamin Christensen, making me believe that artists must have a different – a soft, tender and slightly bit crazier approach to our “normal” daily life.
Art equals energy
Looking at the art works of Arun one can feel a slightly bit romantic though very modern approach. Yet all pieces have got the hidden thought that one has to “husk from the shell”. “For this particular exhibition I was very inspired by trees and nature as well as the dynamics of it. I’m very fascinated by the androgynous and uniformed. I show this fascination by creating figures, which are a mix of tools and man. This is to illustrate how we are perceived as tools or work machines. In this way they operate as a cynical commentary to modern life. And the motivation to create art comes from a feeling, which has to come out somehow. It’s as if I owe it to the world and myself. In fact, I feel uncomfortable if I don’t make art.” – says Arun. “When I work with my art I go into this process where the juicy stuff comes when I feel outcome independent. It’s very difficult to label that as a topic, a theme or style, because it’s still energy. What sneaks in is secondary. This abstract energy has to find its own way out.”
Arun can definitely be described as a goal-seeker. Who nowadays is bold enough to go, have a meeting without an appointment and actually be courageous enough to represent ourselves? “I decided to drive out to Illums Bolighus with a couple of art works and talk to the person in charge of buying and selling art. Without any appointment I got 10 minutes of her time and she loved one of the pieces, which now is on display. It’s a very Scandinavian, design-oriented work called Tree Life. She thought it would fit perfectly into Illum’s style and wanted many more pieces for the exhibition. This gave me the opportunity to finish a series of work, which I had worked on for some time. It’s like what I had of work, graphical, drawings and ideas, came together into these series of illustrative works which now are on display. By trying something different I reached something different. And now I’m exhibiting for three months.” – shares Arun.
Trees of Love
I wonder if the fact that Arun is half Danish and half Indian changes his perception into his art. “Oh yes, definitely – a lot of restlessness. Being half Danish and half Indian and having traveled a lot as kid (Arun lived 7 years in East Africa during childhood), I haven’t always felt rooted. I use my restlessness as a dynamic, a motivation to get my art out there.” says Arun. And probably that is why the gets inspired by trees, since they have got the roots…
One of his most interesting and newest pieces, called “Threes of Love” is probably the most personal and most romantic artwork exhibited at Illums Bolighus. “I was attending several graphic courses while unemployed and during one of these courses I picked up on some great tools on idea generation. I was taught the importance of getting away from the computer and using my hands to idea generate. As an Artist this suited me perfectly. So I started to draw a lot and take pictures of trees. While I was working with the two trees and some text, I found that there is an interesting relationship between these two worlds. We are born without any language skills, but at some point we start to label the work around us with words, we start to communicate with each other with words. When is nature really nature? As we perceive the world through words, taking the words and making them an integrated part of the nature was very interesting.” – claims Arun.
“The words I had in the artwork in the beginning didn’t make any sense. It was just something I had written down quickly. It was first when I was finishing the work that I asked my girlfriend Henriette if she could contribute with a poem. She said yes, she dug into her personal poems and we found this one, a very personal one – it matched perfectly.”
Words and visuals, without a doubt, complement each other perfectly creating a synergy with the two. That is what Henriette, Arun’s girlfriend thought when searching for a poem to complement one of Arun’s art pieces. “When I write poetry it comes from that place Arun described before – that very abstract place, a place of inspiration and passion. The poetry I write usually arises from an emotional situation, when what I’m feeling and experiencing is better put down in words and metaphors, than written down as diary or spoken. So to me poetry is a way of expressing things that cannot be expressed in any other way. And back then I was trying to find images and metaphors that were describing this experience of anxiety and doubt and fear around declaring your love. Should I say this to him, should I actually admit that I have these feelings for that person or should he say them first, or if I say them will it change everything? Cause it is a promise, it is a commitment when you tell somebody you love them. So that’s what was surrounding this poem.”
Yet I wonder – did the two came up with something unseen and unheard – a mixture of a poem and a picture? Arun says that it is collaboration, it still has what I intended to have and the words certainly add value to it and his girlfriend, Henriette adds: “I often find, when looking at pieces or art that has words in them, that those words look sometimes very random. They are only put up there for their graphical value. They don’t come from an essence, a passion, so they become a decorative feature rather than actually mean something. And I think you want something that actually means something. And I’m a storyteller. I paint pictures and stories with words…” – smiles Henriette.
And it seems that the synergy of the two – visuals and words are not the only synergy. I bet the relationship is also adding a “spice” to both of their arts – visual art as well as poems. “The trees have become to symbolize us now…” – says Arun, smiling at his girlfriend Henriette. “I like you the way you are, honey. I don’t need a tree…” – she answers back with a smile.