Flow­er­ing Art

A Dan­ish artist ex­plores new cre­ative hori­zons in Xi­amne

Beijing Review - - CULTURE - By Jacques Four­rier

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

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