Leise Dich Abrahamsen on Simplicity
In a Moment of Stillness
We met Leise Dich Abrahamsen in her atelier on Frederiksberg: A place that shows an ongoing process of creation — something that has been built and conceptualized for decades. Leise and her art quietly hum of her experience, resulting in a juxtaposition that keeps surfacing during our conversation.
“I always end up with the same result: That my art signifies a place of calmness,” Leise tells. “There is so much noise in the world. We run around aimlessly and the next crisis is always underway.” She explains that her art signifies a space of stillness, but that it is not static. “I despise stagnation: I must always be moving.” A condition that seems to manifest in her life, her personality as well as in her art.
“When I was young my style of painting was completely figurative,” Leise says smiling.
It was in the 80s and there never seemed to be enough colours to add. “Over the years I have peeled off layer by layer — I just kept simplifying. Back then I liked to be able to tell the whole story and due to the figurative nature of my painting, it was immediate and easy to understand. But that meant that I had actually wrapped up the story with not much left for the viewer to explore.”
In The Herbaria Collection, it is the immediate nature and its cyclic movement that shapes the motifs. The nonfigurative has taken the place of the figurative and the bolder colours of Leise’s youth have been toned down, although not muted. Sitting across from her, while she is rolling her cigarette, you can feel that surge of energy that has morphed into a different kind but equally as strong a determination.
Through trial and error — good times and hardship — Leise has composed a selection of core elements. They are not an alphabet exactly but act as the building blocks of the stories Leise tells: An archive of shapes, forms and colours. And as a direct correlation of Leise herself, these elements are in constant transformation.
“I like when something is a little off. It creates movement and I won’t mind if it is not perfect. This is something I think about all the time and try to incorporate even when I create a black dot.”
Work of Art
It can be easy to assume when observing the finished result of Leise’s work and her atelier that it is somewhat easy. Simple. “But it is not. It is showing up every day, even on bad days when I think I am no good.” She laughs before she continues: “When that happens I become so unimaginable wretched because I think to myself ‘Oh no there is nothing more in there’. That was it.”
However, Leise is a woman of discipline and if it means sitting around in her atelier feeling like her work is terrible then so be it. Because the inspiration will eventually return. “I never know for sure that it will come back to me and honestly I am completely beside myself at these times. But it is like I have to go through instances of emptiness. I sit here and I stare at my worktable until something shows up, and it always does.”
Even in times of struggle, Leise maintains an aim to stay, in her own words, pure. “I shy away from influences and trends. Instead, I lean on and trust my own intuition.”
Home Away from Home
The conversation falls on the atelier, and a certain sense of irony arises from the fact that Leise is a woman of movement, of hard work and always being on the go — and then physically staying in the same place. This year will be her twentieth of owning this particular space. And acquiring the atelier still stands as one of the best decisions Leise has made for her work as an artist. “The big window creates a connection with the outside world, inviting people in — and letting me take in the quiet rhythms of the street and the people that live in and visit Copenhagen.”
As such her work is ever-changing, although one thing is always present. In parallel to her colourful compositions, she will always be working on something in black and white.
“I like the almost absurd simplicity of this,” she says and points to the art print In The Fall from The Herbaria Collection. “That so few elements bundled together create movement. You do not really know if it is on the way up or down or if it is falling outside the frame completely.” That is the point of those core elements Leise has spent years creating. That the simplicity of them can create a sense of life and maybe a moment of contemplation.
“I like that a piece like this creates an intermission. So afterwards you might just experience that something feels a bit more content. You know?”