With The Light In The Centre

Lena Olsen and her work is a fine example that a genuine artist cannot be suppressed. Life itself can offer much in the way of adversity; one can as a child or youngster be formed and pushed in other directions, but if there is something of an artist inside, then at some time or other the creative talent breaks through.

For some it happens early, others later. An artist doesn't became a lesser artist because of this - just look at Lena Olsen! She has only devoted herself to painting during the last half score years, but has nevertheless attained a maturity and independence of expression which only few, more experienced artists achieve.

'I'm inspired by Nature', claim many painters and Lena Olsen is one of them. But no mater how many times this statement has the effect of being an excuse or a rather hollow assertion, one is left in no doubt whatsoever that this is not the case with Lena Olsen; one can quite simply sense Nature in her pictures.

Lena Olsen is born and bred in Frederikshavn and indeed to this day continues to live in the town of her birth and yet it is neither the sea nor the large, chequered landscape of Northern Jutland which occupies her. She simply doesn't fit into the usual clichés but goes her own way; for instance when she's inspired by a small lake in a local wood at the southern edge of the town. She has visited and portrayed this motive for many years; when the light is refracted or mirrored on its quiet surface, when Autumn leaves drift quietly down to its banks, when the reeds bow before the wind and in the wood itself when she discovers trees and roots covered in the intense colours of final decay, moss that has captured the early morning dew or the westering sun between the silent trunks. It's a lyrical painting, striving for beauty and a yet with a hint of melancholy. Lena Olsen searches for Nature when it shows itself in 'The Blue Hour'; the transition day and dusk.

Originally she was trained to be a Laboratory Assistant followed by further training as an Environmental Technician. Later she was teacher-trained but the urge to express herself in the language of colour was insistent and now she has taken the decisive spring; to live for painting and to make a living from it. Here she comes to use all her energy.
She has already completed several, important commissions with the result that the necessary selfdiscipline has at the same time been aquired. To paint isn't just a desire but also a profession, form here it's only a short step to being a professional and it is in this way Lena Olsen works. Every morning she is to be found in her studio, maybe gingerly walking around the canvas, stopping to put on some music before throwing herself into the process of painting. Then follows a period of three, maybe four hours, of deeply concentrated work until that day's portion of artistic energy is expended. The rest of the afternoon is used for the many practical chores which are also a part of an artist's life. Customers, art dealers and galleries, purchase of frames, colours and brushes plus enquiries for help with a lithograph or picture - for example from the local sports club. A time must be found for everything and when there's a house and garden, husband and children, then the 24 hours a day can offer are soon spoken for. But work as an artist is not neglected - for this is the path Lena Olsen has chosen and she doesn't give way.

Atmosphere and personal experience can be read in her work. Both the pictures and the materials have changed in recent years. The pure colours in juxtaposition with each other are replaced by a more refined expression; where an interplay between earthern colours, golden shades and poetic blues can be seen on the canvas. Also the brush strokes have changes and sought a greater freedom whilst the previously 'closed' pictures, which expressed the artist's mental makeup, have now been replaced by a greater frankness. Light in earnest has now entered into the pictures and in Lena Olsen's own words it's not just the light but hope she paints.
And then there are the colours. It began with acrylics, but they were too lifeless and plastic-like, so in recent years Lena Olsen swears by the 'old fashioned' oil paints. They don't just smell of proper paintings but they also contain another depth of colour than that which can be attained by acrylics. They carry within themselves that good long process because they take so long to dry. This gives time for reflection and yet at the same time for tries ones patience. This it not the worst thing at a time when everything has to go so quickly. When the canvas is eventually dry the picture may have to be reworked with oil crayons to give more structure and life to the motive.
For many years Lena Olsen's compositions have been influenced by the vertical - tree trunks, posts and such like, but recently the canvas has been successfully 'turned' and she thrives on the new possibility. Intense sun and lightfilled landscapes have been among other things developed in connection with a recent large embellishment commission. Precisely such commissions are a new challange for Lena Olsen. Where paintings normally come from within and express the artist's state of mind, embellishments have a different goal. Here one paints for a specific room, maybe even a specific theme or group of people. It is here the thoughts are to be found - the focus is moved from me to you.
Recently the contours of persons and faces have begun to appear in Lena Olsen's art; Quite unconsciously - nor can she explain where they come form. But they are there, one can see them with the naked eye and on begins to feel a new dimension in the artist's form of expression. Just where this will lead no one is able to say, but one is left in no doubt that it will bear fruit.

Lena Olsen has taken a decision and this she will follow, giving both pleasure to herself and last but least to the public, who can look forward to many warm sense impressions in the future form an artist who values highly the artistic virtues, while the picture itself remains firmly place in the centre.

Steffen Lange
Editor and Art Critic