Only Art Can Save Us
”I've never seen myself as an artist - my work has been more about telling people what art is.”
In connection with his 90th birthday, we met Danish artist Poul Pedersen in his home and studio in Paris to discuss his lifelong career. Despite his recognition as a leading figure in the so-called Aarhus avant-garde, Poul Pedersen never considered himself an artist. Read more …
His role, he explains, has been to examine other artistic ideas to test to see if they hold water. Thus he gained recognition for recreating Polish-Russian artist Kasimir Malevich’s arkhitektons and his magnum opus “The Stolen Alphabet,” composed of selected letters stolen from the works of other artists.
“When we’re working with art – we have a chance. And that’s the only chance we have.”
Poul Pedersen is a firm believer in the transformative power of art. Art, he claims, is our only real chance to experience humanity and human connections. The film opens with the artist’s final happening performed at the opening of the exhibition “The Alphabet of Silence” – an exhibition marking the artist’s 90-year birthday at Museum Jorn in Silkeborg. Here Poul Pedersen painted the words orange, black, grey, white, blue, yellow, red, and violet on white canvas with green paint. The work is titled “With His Sharp Brain, the Colorblind Discovered That Green Was Missing.” The work is a tribute to Poul Pedersen’s long-term friend and collaborator, Danish artist Anders Bonnesen.
Poul Pedersen (b. 1933) apprenticed as a building painter in 1952 but debuted as a self-taught artist at the Experimental Stage in Aarhus in the 1960’es. He is considered one of the main figures in the 1960s’ so-called Aarhus avant-garde. Since the 1980’es, he has resided and worked in Paris. He is known as the “letter painter” due to his work with letters in art, including “The Stolen Alphabet”. Poul Pedersen is a member of the artist collective Jylland and Den Frie Udstilling. In 1996, he was honored with the Danish State Art Fund’s lifelong grant. He received the Eckersberg Medal in 2007.
Poul Pedersen was interviewed by Nanna Rebekka in his home and studio in Paris in May 2023. Additional footage is from the documentary ‘Det Stjålne Alfabet’ (2001) by director
Cinematographer: Philip Peng Rosenthal
Producer and editor: Nanna Rebekka
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2023
Louisiana Channel is supported by Den A.P. Møllerske Støttefond, Ny Carlsbergfondet, C.L. Davids Fond og Samling, and Fritz Hansen.
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