This is Art Nordic Spotlight – a series where we highlight some of the young and emerging talents exhibiting at Art Nordic. In this episode we meet Carla Kjærgaard, better known as Carla K. She takes us into her unique universe of twisted creatures with human features and lots of expressions. This is your opportunity to get to know her and her art better.
An intense gaze keeps you glued to Carla K’s art. The look can be mournful, frightened, angry or indifferent. Either way, the colorful creatures intensely hold your gaze. At least in most cases. Other times, the subject is bodies. Bodies that are entangled, either in each other or in an embrace of themselves. It is the fascination with people and the inner world that brings Carla K’s paintings to life:
“My inspiration comes from both inside and outside. It can be my own memories or the abundance of a certain emotion, but it can also be the fascination with people and everything we hide behind the facade. What we try to hide away, I want to bring out in my work,” explains the young artist.
An internal fire sets the canvas ablaze
Carla K has been drawing and painting for as long as she can remember, but the turning point in her artistic development was when she developed severe anxiety at the age of 10:
“It gave me a sense of comfort to express my inner anxiety-ridden world visually. It was nice to create something that made sense to me when everything inside didn’t. If you don’t understand what’s going on inside yourself, I definitely recommend going to art,” says Carla K, who to this day paints for completely different reasons.
Today, it’s about the inner fire: “I still paint because it makes sense to me, but it’s mostly about an inner fire of anger or feeling ignored and misunderstood. Growing up, I never really felt like I could allow myself to get angry or rebel,” Carla K says and continues:
“When I was little, I was always afraid that people wouldn’t love or like me if I got mad at them. That still sticks with me, so today I express most of my frustration and anger in my art.”
The impulse sets the line
Besides Carla K’s inner fire, it’s the observation of people and their secrets that drives her hands to shape human-like and expressive creatures with her brush:
“I use art to reflect on impressions from the outside world. For example, I find it super interesting to observe and paint the many different psychological layers of human beings. What I express most in my paintings is everything behind the facade. Everything that we don’t always dare to talk about or face – but that we all have in common,” explains Carla K.
Perhaps that’s why Carla K’s art is so captivating. She explains how the captivating motifs get onto the canvas as an impulse:
“My creative process begins with a sudden and strong need to create. It’s not far from thought to action – as soon as I feel the need to create, I do it. Often I don’t even have a picture in my head before I start. One line just leads to the next out of pure impulse,” says Carla K and continues:
“The best results actually happen when I don’t think about what I’m drawing or painting, but just let my wrist take over. Then I can sit and daydream and think about everything else while I’m drawing. As soon as I start thinking too much, it often starts to lose expression and authenticity.”
“It’s healthy to challenge yourself. You grow from that – just as your art can also grow from a little challenge”
A bubble of acceptance
For Carla K, it’s also the notion of other people’s expectations and hopes that can ruin her creative process. So as well as avoiding overthinking the technicalities of a drawing, she also avoids overthinking the expectations of others.
“I paint for myself, not for others,” she states and continues:
“I am an artist because creating art is one of the most valuable things in my life. Only when I create art do I feel free to express my inner world without shame. Here I am in my own little bubble of acceptance and freedom and can express exactly what I want. I can express anger and frustration without having to worry about others being repulsed, offended or overwhelmed by it.”
Although she paints for its own sake, it is still the encounter between her work and the viewer that gives Carla K a unique experience:
“It’s the most amazing feeling when others find interest or value in what I have created from my inner self. I find it incredibly beautiful when another person can relate to one of my works. It means that our two inner worlds can relate to each other, creating a deep and sudden understanding and acceptance of each other.”
And that’s what visitors can expect to see at Carla K’s stand. Her work takes you behind the scenes and encourages reflection. Meet Carla Kjærgaard at Art Nordic 2021 at Lokomotivværkstedet in Copenhagen on November 26-28 and get a taste of her art here.