A Danish artist explores new creative horizons in Xiamne
Almost pushing 60, Lars Søren Ravn has dedicated his entire life to painting and graphic arts, even dabbling in sculpture with some success. Now, this self-taught, freethinking libertarian from Denmark has found a new creative haven in Xiamen, in southeast China’s Fujian Province. And perhaps more importantly, he also met and married Chinese writer Zi Fanmei.
Xiamen Dada meets Young Wild Ones
In the 1980s, a new art scene was emerging in Northern Europe, the Young Wild Ones, influ- enced by Joseph Beuys, the Fluxus movement and expressionist painters. This generation of young Danish artists were critical of the mainstream artistic creations. Ravn, an aspiring young painter from Vejle, in the southeast of Denmark’s Jutland Peninsula, was immediately captivated.
“My late mentor was Peter Louis-jensen. I was his assistant and he had a big impact on me. It was very experimental. It was not only about art, it was about creations that would make a difference in people’s lives,” he recalled. “He was a pioneer. He devised a water heater powered with solar energy, sold organic food and explored all kinds of alternatives that had to do with recycling and environmental awareness. We did things that would become commonplace later in the 1990s.”
During that period, Ravn was a volunteer in a bookshop and became acquainted with China. “We were selling posters, books and items imported from China,” he said. But the defining moment came when he was 20. “Someone gave me a book in Danish about Chinese art and culture in the 1930s. That was the first book I ever read about the topic in China.”
“I did an exhibition in Dandong, north China’s Liaoning Province, just after the Summer Olympics Games in October 2008,” he
by Lars Søren Ravn