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Anne Vilsboell’s work revolves around deconstruction, change, construction and reinvention in a subtle, metaphysical, poetic way. In her own life and in her artwork she examines reluctance to change. For more than 3 decades she has physically travelled the world, taken part in art working processes, confronting herself with different cultures – always being and staying “her(e)” in changing groups. She believes in a universal resurrection where “what dies and decomposes provides vigour to that which germinates.”
Anne Vilsboell lives in France, Rajasthan, India and Denmark.
Extract from book Anne Vilsboell – the language of paper, Edition Heede & Moestrup, 352p. 2011:
A METAPHYSICAL WORLD THROUGH ARTISTRY AND CRAFTSMANSHIP
Anne Vilsbøll’s art is the result of intense innovative and inspirational research into the hidden potential of paper as a tool for modern means of expression. She has been acclaimed as one of the pioneers among a number of remarkable artists who during the past sixty years have searched to revive the lost form of the ancient craft of papermaking as a contemporary art form.
Like the ancient scribe, or medieval apprentice she has learned her craft with consummate devotion to artistic traditions. Her art begins with experiments with ancient and modern papermaking techniques which her sensibility creates into new forms, textures, colors for her paintings, sculptures, and diverse objects.
Anne Vilsbøll ‘s art is the product of three decades of assiduous investigation seeking to penetrate the secrets of handmade paper based on traditions established both in the West and the East. Extensive travels and study throughout the world have strengthened the artist’s resolve to provide new insight and inspiration to the viewer about the potentials of handmade paper as an art form. The viewer experiences in her artwork the symbiotic result of craftsmanship and artistry as indivisible and complete. The Renaissance artist’s employment of paper as separate supporting medium for color, line and space has been intentionally blurred by Anne Vilsbøll’s art . Instead, she offers an alternative and new way to read and experience the paper work as both a pre‐conscious creative act, which is inseparable and integral with the art of the craft of papermaking. Craftsmanship and artistry are inseparable. It is this need for establishing the integrity of the craft in opposition to the modern time mass industry and technology which has led her to state: “ I do not think I shall ever let go of the paper. It is essential to my work.”
Anne Vilsbøll’s art, is nothing less than kalaidascopic. Her paintings reveal ever changing new means of communicating her inner visions of the external world. She commences at times with sketches based on ideas or sensations experienced and accumulated from her many travels. She has stated: “My thoughts are from the moon.” However her art based on her passion of observations of the life and nature are grounded on assiduous notes, sketches, photographs and musings which she files away like a fastidious librarian. At some given point before the work takes on its own creative life, she draws from this well of documents for ideas and inspiration for the inception of each new artwork. From this she explains : “ I deduce that I know what it is I paint.”
She believes that the ultimate aim of the artist as creator is to imbue life into inanimate form to extract from it living beauty and order. Handmade paper is transformed into semblance of “the other;” paper as trompe l’oeil acts to suggest incompatible materials and objects such as metal, glass, leather, jewelry , embroidery, furniture etc. She invests, the natural, the inanimate matter, the organic pulp with new and spontaneously conceived forms derived from her experiences and impressions about the world. She studies and annotates her sensations as she journeys throughout the world. In the tradition of the romantic artist Eugène Delacroix , nature is a dictionary which the artist reads and filters through his/her imagination to recreate an inner vision of the exterior reality. As stated in the artist’s own words, she yearns: “To fly with the birds to build a bridge and create order in chaos.” The artist’s role, as in the biblical metaphor of the Creator, is to imbue life from confusion and disorder; to breathe life by constructing order; to animate and construct from chaos a vision of radiantly new forms expressive of metaphysical symbols about life and nature. She asserts that : “ The real world is not enough” and acknowledges that in this way : “Perhaps my paintings help me to seek a metaphysical world.”
The artist’s images are based on external observation which are reassembled to include also meanings stimulated by readings of legends; philosophical and spiritual teachings of the ancient and modern world . Her keen eye and sensitive analysis of different world cultures are metamorphosed into works which contain new and meaningful forms and colors to symbolise diverse cultural traditions found in the West and the East. She is fascinated by historical legends and philosophies old and new; aspects of Indian mythology and rituals, Danish history and contemporary literature such as the personality of Karen Blixen; all have inspired Anne Vilsbøll’s artistic visions in creating brilliant colorful forms shapes and patterns. She is passionate to represent specific aspects and moments of cultural history. The Danish subjects in her work for example, The Tower Bed of Queen Juliane Marie,symbolize for her Scandinavian spirit the “ lived historical time .”
Anne Vilsbøll’s subjects reflect her diverse interests as art teacher, art historian and poet, world traveler and specifically her role and identity as woman as artist. Her former experiences as art student, teacher and art historian led to a pivotal meeting in January 1983 with Georgia O’Keeffe in Abiquiu , New Mexico. “If I did not meet her,” she concluded :“I would have continued as an art historian.” Artworks such as “Between the Lines “and “La Lionne” were inspired by another great woman artist and personality. Her fascination with the Danish writer Karen Blixen’s hats and her metaphor of lion hunting likened to a tempestous rendezvous with life became a stepping stone for Anne Vilsbøll’s realization that as artist , every new creative act, like lion hunting, is a passionate confrontation of emotions experienced by the artist on the commencement of a new work.
The singular meeting with O’Keeffe impacted Vilsbøll’s shapes and color studies, many ofwhom are indebted to O’Keeffe and to early American modern abstract experimenta- tions with color’s function as light , form and space. For Vilsbøll, color has different venues, as scientific color theory, as an optical tool as well as for symbolic and formal means. The ancient myths of India are symbolized by brilliant use of brilliant reds, blues, yellows . At the same time her use of radiant colors is indebted to American abstract painting practices from O’Keeffe’s generation up to the 1970s to the present. The artist’s color paintings nevertheless, are the result of personal synthesis employed at times to interpret a myriad of ancient and modern artistic practices. She admits to “collecting “color from different cultures. She stores color when she travels . From India she extracts the country’s reds, yellows and from Sri Lanka the generic solar oranges. Not unlike Vincent van Gogh in Provence Anne Vilsbøll sees color as the indigenous element specific to a geographical area which she identifies as the quintessential character of the area of the land and its culture. Color is not only to be, it is to be savored, observed and collected but according to her the pigment is also to be “touched” in her paintings.
Her paper art embraces old traditions but also respects Baudelaire’s concept of modernism, “il faut étre de son temps.” She invests for important commissions for modern institutions and corporations designs reflecting the contemporary spirit and functions of their respective architectural functions and structures. Her four large paintings executed for the dining room of the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, located in an old warehouse in Copenhagen, are composed of simple bold forms and colors inspired by their present interior and exterior surroundings which echoe architectural forms and color from the building’s exterior surrounding Asiastisk Plads. Yet, buried into the compositions of the paintings are elements which the artist’s memories associates not only with present Danish architecture but also with one of the most important 15th century forts in the Mewar region which is located outside her second home in Udaipur in Rajasthan, India. This in sum can be viewed as an example of the artist’s creed about art.
Handmade paper art remains a beacon of hope for Anne Vilsbøll to sustain our modern generation with the belief that we can remain comforted that art continues to revive ideological mythology in the present modern times we live in. Her art orders and constructs from chaos to provide us with visions of a metaphysical world and which at the same time continues to create a bridge between the past and present.
Dr. Bogomila Welsh‐Ovcharov, Professor Emeritus, History of Art, University of Toronto, Toronto,
Bogomila Welsh-Ovcharov is an art historian who has won international renown for her work on Vincent van Gogh and his contemporaries. She received her PhD from the University of Utrecht, and for the past 25 years has taught art history at the University of Toronto at Mississauga. Welsh-Ovcharov has created a number of exhibitions on van Gogh, including one at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris that earned her a Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académique. In the award citation, the French government made reference to her numerous scholarly contributions to French art history. Her publication record, including books, essays and articles on van Gogh and late 19th century painting, has placed her at the pinnacle of her field.Her books include:” Van Gogh in Perspective” (1974, Prentice Hall); “Vincent Van Gogh: The Birth of Cloisonism” (1981, The Art Gallery of Ontario/Rijksmuseum Vincent Van Gogh); and “Van Gogh à Paris” (1988, Musée d’Orsay, Paris); “Vincent van Gogh in Provence and Auvers ”, 1999 as well as numerous articles.