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HENRIK SIMONSEN | STUDIO VISIT IN BERLIN
June 22nd 2018
Danish artist Henrik Simonsen is well known for his abstract and colourful work of the natural elements. Often inspired by childhood memories, sketches done over several years and from travelling around the world, Simonsen creates intriguing landscapes which fascinates collectors all over the world. This week we visited Simonsen in his studio in Kreuzberg, the very creative part of the former East Berlin and today known as a hotspot for artists. On a warm and partly sunny summer day our conversation covered Simonsen’s passion for his art, life philosophies and the importance of having a long perspective.
by Henrik Riis
STUDIO VISIT
Simonsen’s grew up in the Danish countryside and from childhood he was drawn by the beauty of the nature surrounding him. His work is often referred to as “Nordic Expressionism” and as a viewer it is not difficult to see how he grew up with the tales of H C Andersen; The majestic trees growing into the heavens from the perspective of the grass - or intertwining thorny branches creating a fortress which surely requires a secret word for passage.

In the summer of 2013 Simonsen decided to move to Berlin after having spent thirteen years in Brighton, United Kingdom. Simonsen explains “Time has a tendency of passing quickly. In your 20 and 30’ies you think that time is unlimited. I turned 39 in 2013 and it seemed the right time to have a think about what needed to change in my life and where I wanted the next chapter to take place. I felt I had to make the physical move also to push myself creatively” . After looking around he found a studio in an old warehouse among other artists, a few of them fellow Danes. Berlin seemed to be the perfect location; a city which has quickly become the hub for artists in Europe with affordable studios and a buzzing with life.
Henrik Simonsen

Blue Butterflies , 2017

77(w) x 101(h) cm
30.51(w) x 39.76(h) inches
11 layer combined lithograph and screenprint on Somerset Satin 410gsm paper

Image size: 72 x 95cm
Edition of 60
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£ 1,080.00
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When entering Simonsen’s studio on the third floor, you walk into a warehouse building which was a sewing factory in the last century. Old and heavy metal doors that squeak and complain when you open them, and once inside you find yourself in a room with white concrete walls and big windows on one side flooding the room with natural light. Buckets of paint and brushes are everywhere and at one end of the room a big canvas lies flat on a table. When moving closer I see the fine pencil drawings of a bush with branches, thorns and leaves - some marked up with a thin layer of white paint and with a surrounding background applied in a deep blue colour. “When starting on a new work my process is never the same” says Simonsen, “sometimes my initial line-drawings are covered when I build the layers of paint on top, and other times I reverse the method where lighter colours are used and leave the line-drawings visible which create such fine details” . Not always having a clear knowledge of what a painting will look like, allows it to develop organically on the canvas; just a plant would do in nature. It is when you see the early stages of one of his paintings that one clearly understands that it is the nurturing of each brushstroke and his patience that results in his incredible pieces. Having a long perspective is important in many ways, also when building a career as an artist.

Since 2012 Henrik Simonsen has been doing annual solo shows at Findlay Gallery in NYC and most recently also in Palm Beach, Florida, and during the years the artist has built a loyal group of collectors on the East Coast in the United States. Eyestorm have been proud to represent Simonsen on his printed editions for more than a decade and we have seen a continuous strong interest in his editions not only in the US, but also in Hong Kong, Singapore and Europe. A question which naturally come to mind is; Can we expect solo exhibition outside the US?. Simonsen smiles and replies “Right now most of my paintings are exhibited and sold on the East Coast. My last solo show in Europe was in Copenhagen in 2014 and it feels like it is the right time to focus on showing the paintings closer to home as well as in Asia. It is something I’m working on and I’m confident this will happen.” . Simonsen never seems to be in hurry and peace and quiet is something we quickly agree on as being vital to both of us in our lives.
Henrik Simonsen

Gold Dusk , 2013

94(w) x 113(h) cm
37.01(w) x 44.80(h) inches
19 colour screenprint on 400 gsm Velin Arches Blanc paper with hand-applied gold and copper leaf, uniquely hand-finished by the artist.
Image size: 90.6 x 75.2cm
Edition of 15
PRICE (INCL. VAT)
£ 3,600.00
Only 2 left at this price
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After a couple of hours in the studio we leave to get lunch nearby in a small street next to a canal which springs off the river Spree. The outdoor restaurant and the look and feel of Kreuzberg in general has many similarities to Frederiksberg, part of Copenhagen in his native Denmark. But we quickly agree that is also where the comparison ends. Simonsen explains

“I really like Berlin and it feels the right place to be right now. In this city you can be yourself and no-one will give you a strange look if you stand out from the norm. I’m not sure my art could flourish in the same way had I moved to Denmark. Berlin has so much offer and with the city slowly positioning itself as the new capital of Europe, it is going to be an exciting place to live in the next few years.“

In March Simonsen returned from a six weeks journey in New Zealand and travelling is increasingly playing an important role as inspiration for new work. The first part of the trip he spent three weeks with a group of fellow travellers and a guide, walking through the wild nature of New Zealand, sleeping in tents and cooking meals in small huts along the way or over campfires, and then spent another three weeks travelling around New Zealand on his own. Being back in Berlin, Simonsen is full of energy and with an inexhaustible pool of memories to draw from to create new paintings and print editions.
Henrik Simonsen

Blue Grass , 2018

87(w) x 87(h) cm
34.25(w) x 34.45(h) inches
6 layer screenprint on Somerset Satin 410gsm paper

Image size: 80 x 80cm

To see larger and more detailed image (1Mb file opens in new window), please click here
Edition of 60
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£ 820.00
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“Mysterious” is a word often associated with Simonsen’s artwork and the viewer will quickly see that underneath the landscapes and his use of unnatural colours, there is a story of wildly beauty to be revealed; And Henrik Simonsen is a great storyteller which clearly surface during our lunch. In 2015 his travels took him to Antarctica, and the way he talks about the voyage is simply captivating. “There were three ships departing from the most southern part of Argentina heading for Antarctica. Within a few days we were in the middle of a storm in Drake’s Passage, a passage feared by most sailors for the unpredictable weather - and it did get quite rough. One evening I was in the shower when the boat did a sudden move and I tried to reach for something to hold onto. The closest object was the wall-mounted soap bottle which I managed to grab and pull out of the wall, and in the fall I got myself rolled into the shower curtain falling into the bathroom, landing in the sink … still holding the soap bottle in my hand. But I was fine, and our ship was the only of the three ships making it to Antarctica.” .

As casually as Simonsen had told the story, I sat back with images in my head of two sinking ships with adventurous tourists on board. “Oh no” continued Simonsen “One ship fought the storm for so long its engines overheated, causing an engine fire that meant they had to put down anchor and wait for the storm to pass. The other ship got hit by a block of ice the size of a car and it breached the haul, smashing portholes and bending the steel plates, but luckily above the waterline so they also had to come to a full stop and ride out the storm for two days - and then return to Argentina.” . Had I ever wanted to go Antarctica, this was the moment I decided that it would never be for me. Simonsen points out several times that the challenging journey was worth it, as the beauty of the wide natural scenery, the ice and water and the sun, was incomparable to anything else.

After the trip to Antarctica we saw a new body of work from Simonsen, where blue, red and golden tones had a strong influence, something clearly visible in the print edition Blue Butterflies and the most recent Blue Grass from 2018.

With new inspiration from his trip to New Zealand as well as many exciting plans on the table, I’m confident that this year will be an exceptional one for Simonsen.

You can find available print editions by Henrik Simonsen on his artist page here.
Henrik Simonsen

Ochre , 2015

108(w) x 88(h) cm
42.52(w) x 34.65(h) inches
7 colour screenprint on Somerset 410gsm paper
Edition of 60
PRICE (INCL. VAT)
£ 820.00
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When Eyestorm first started showing Danish artist Henrik Simonsen’s work thirteen years ago, we were unaware of how successful and collectable that work would become. One of our most popular artists, Simonsen’s screen prints are exquisite representations of nature, expertly balancing a rich colour palette with delicate brushwork to create deeply alluring organic forms.
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Danish-born artist, Henrik Simonsen uses nature as the central theme in all his works, an influence of his Scandinavian heritage - a region with a longstanding tradition for art inspired by natural forms.
£ 820.00
DO YOU OWN AN EARLY PRINT EDITION BY HENRIK SIMONSEN?
Red with Dragonflies
The Danish artist Henrik Simonsen has seen a steady increase of collectors fascinated by his abstract and colourful artwork inspired by the natural elements; a style often referred to as 'Nordic Expressionism'.

If you own a print, which is now sold-out and you wish to sell, we have clients who are looking for select pieces. You can get in touch with us via the Contact page, which you can find here.
 
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