NEW YORK _ Chase Contemporary is delighted to announce the grand opening of its new 5000 square foot Manhattan gallery space in SoHo with a solo show of large-scale watercolor and mixed media linoleum works by Danish artist Ole Aakjær. The opening event will be held on Thursday, November 18th from 5-8pm at 413-415 West Broadway.
Copenhagen-based Aakjær takes on SoHo on the heels of his first solo museum show at the Vejle Kunstmuseum in Jutland, Denmark. Showcasing some 50 intricate works by Aakjær underscores a commitment to promoting living artists who are becoming increasingly celebrated throughout the world. Aakjaer, who has a background in advertising, meticulously layers his distinctive portraits that celebrate the power of women with cultural and literary references. Ornate ink work comes into play with tattoos often sprawled across the face, neck, shoulders, and upper body.
Text and characters, inspired by music, literature, poetry, film, religion, psychology, and cartoons are painstakingly applied with ink and watercolor. His distinct figurative paintings rely on bold colors and symbols to convey deep psychological empathy. For instance, The Whale Song reveals Aakjaer’s use of a “halo” motif, incorporating the allegory of the mandala- a circular configuration of symbols that allude to a spiritual journey. Mandalas can refer to a belief in finding peace in the symmetry and design of the universe.
By appropriating postures and techniques from the history of portraiture and poses from fashion photography, advertising posters and billboards, and by incorporating elements such as celebrated decorative motifs, funereal memento mori, and tattooed insignia, Aakjaer intensifies the uncanny, the mysterious, and the suggestive object of desire. Symbolic screens across the figures’ faces, necks, and torsos make them available for interpretation as templates for psychic and emotional projection. His portraits echo the highly charged images found both in fashion photography and poster art, specifically from international magazine covers such as Vogue, Cosmo, Glamour, and the Danish Alt for Damerne (such as Danish supermodel Helena Christensen with her riveting, unabashed, and challenging stare.)
Ole Aakjær (b. 1962) is a Copenhagen-based, internationally-renowned watercolor artist. Influenced by comic book writers and artists Milo Manara, Enki Bilal, and Jean Giraud (pseudonym Moebius), Aakjær in the mid-1980s published an album at Carlsen, Denmark’s main comic book publisher at the time, fulfilling his childhood dream. He operated an illustration studio since 1992. After 25 years as CEO of his own advertising and design agency, Aakjær was burnt out creatively. Reclaiming his childhood fascination and playfulness, he turned to watercolor painting in 2014. International success came quickly when Aakjær’s first paintings sold and his first solo exhibition sold out. Many subsequent shows in Montreal, Oslo, Paris, and London, sold out, leading to an international breakthrough and permanent gallery representation in Copenhagen, New York, Paris, and Montreal. His first solo museum exhibition was held at the Vejle Kunstmuseum, Jutland, Denmark, in 2021. Upcoming solo museum exhibitions include the Chinese Contemporary Art Museum, Chongqing, China, in 2022. Aakjær has participated in more than 70 solo and group exhibitions since 2014. The artist lives and works in Denmark.