Lars Physant

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Lars Physant
Born Lars Physant
(1957-04-24) April 24, 1957 (age 60)
Copenhagen, Denmark
Nationality Danish
Known for Painting

Lars Physant (born April 24, 1957, Copenhagen, Denmark) is a Danish painter whose conceptual expression has its roots in naturalism and realism.[1] Amongst his earliest influences are C.E. Eckersberg Christen Købke, J.Th. Lundbye, Wilhelm Hammershøi, Vermeer van Delft, Claude Monet and Georges Seurat.


Lars Physant started drawing at a very early age. As a teenager, he would draw on very small pieces of paper, which could easily be hidden away, so no one would see them. In 2005 he eventually showed these drawings to the public in his retrospective exhibition, El transit de la llum, in Castell de Benedormiens, Castell d’Aro, Spain.[2]

In 1986, he created the illustrations for the Danish and Norwegian editions of J. R. R. Tolkien’s book Tree & Leaf[3] which were shown in 22 exhibitions all over Scandinavia. In 1987, he began working on a book on the history of Rome’s squares Rom - pladsernes by.[4] His aim was to depict each one of Rome's 40 squares by drawing and painting outdoors in the open air (au plen air), like the painters of the Danish Golden Age used to do. No help from a photograph could be used. Many exhibitions stemmed from his 8 months Italian experience.[5] In 1996 Physant created paintings for the second book on Rome by Ole Askov Olsen, Glimt af et glemt Rom, describing unknown places of the city. This time photographic references were allowed.

The encounter with Rome, the Mediterranean culture and especially the light in the region inspired him tremendously and when he in 1994 had the opportunity to spend a year in Barcelona working on an exhibition for his gallery in Copenhagen, it proved to be a turning point for him and he settled permanently in Barcelona.[6][7]

Lars Physant's trip to Rajasthan in 2009 caused a deep impression on both his spirit and his work. He had the opportunity to do some painting during his stay in Udaipur and afterwards he travelled 2,500 kilometers by road, stopping off at several cities, constantly being inspired by his perceptions of the landscapes and people, visiting temples and other sights until he reached Varanasi. This site, sacred to Hindus, provided him with an exceptional, death-related experience, which is expressed particular in the painting entitled Lyspassion II - Sankt Hans Dag. Manikarnika Ghat. Varanasi. Physant has reflected the intens sensations his visit to India inspired in him in a series of works and several exhibitions i Spain, Belgium and Denmark.

In 2012 Klaus Rifbjerg proposed to Lars Physant to create works to visualize the book af poems FERIAS by Federico García Lorca which Rifbjerg and his wife Inge had translated into Danish. This allowed Physant to immerse himself with great interest in the life and work of Lorca. This interest extended to Lorca's contemporaries, the historical circumstances of the era, and, given his passion for music, Physant also went deep into the world of flamenco. The result was the 28 paintings that illustrate the bilingual Danish/Spanish version of Ferias, published by Gyldendal in 2013. In 2014 the paintings and the poems were exhibited at the Museo Casa Natal Federico Garcia Lorca at the poet's birthplace in Fuente Vaqueros, Granada in celebration of Lorca's 116th birthday. The extensive knowledge Physant acquired in this process allowed him to actively participate in discussions about the poet in Andalusia alongside acknowledged specialists in the field such as Ian Gibson, Juan José Téllez, Manuel Francisco Reina and Juan de Loxa or the expert in the culture of flamenco, Lourdes Galvez del Postigo.

From the very beginning of his career, one of Physant's greatest wishes was to paint a portrait of H.M. Queen Margrethe II of Denmark. The wish came true in 2014, when he was commissioned the portrait by The National Museum of Denmark to mark the monarch's 75th birthday. The portrait, entitled At skabe billeder af billeder (Creating images from images), is a significant painting illustrating the queen's intellectual side, referencing her studies in archaeology as well as her artistic side. It also alludes to the latest research findings on the history of the kingdom of Denmark.


In 1992, he began referring to his division of canvas as Introspective Naturalism to describe the representation of the inner and outer world, with the outer world in a realistic manner placed in the center of the paintings’ surface and the inner world as an abstract expression on the edges of the painting’s surface. He wrote, “Any type of perception of the external world to the limit of our body is always mixed with the reality which is kept in our inner self: the state of mind, memories, drowsiness, wakefulness, lived images, excitement after a discussion, sun blinding effect which makes immediate after images like photonegatives, flash-backs, experience of cold or extreme heat, etc…”.[8]

Also in the 1990s, as a step forward in his research within the fusion of realism and abstraction, he developed the expression Samlet, splittet virkelighed (United divided reality). Examples of this expression are found throughout his work, and in 1999 that he physically split the surface of his paintings and added the relief dimension.[9]

From then on, he would break up the canvas, and the shape of most of his paintings would become irregular, emphasizing the fragmentation of our reality. The fragments would sometimes be totally separated, leaving irregular spaces between them. His technique is to use acrylics and oil on canvas on relief wooden structures.[10]

The parallelism with music and musical concepts is always present in his work - a painterly way of conceiving “theme with variations”. Like in Edward Elgar’s Enigma Variations’s, the relief structures contain many different visions of the same original theme which itself is never exposed.

Psychoanalysis is another important inspiration and reference.[11] The role of the unconscious within the perception, and how the process of improvisation and composition is always related to how the mind works metaphorically and metonymically is present throughout his work.[12] Also, the way memory stores and distributes perception layer upon layer is like the transparent layers of paint used. The investigations of Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan have left strong marks in his art, i.e. his painting “Wo Es war, soll Ich werden”.

Simultaneous perception[13] has been a theme of his latest exhibitions, whereby he emphasizes the idea that the complementarity of different emotional states is the way to get on more qualified terms with inner and outer reality. This is one of the themes in Else Marie Bukdahl’s text “Flerhed af blikke” (Plurality of views), referring to Niels Bohr’s theories. [14]

As a consequence and evolution of the previous expressions, Lars Physant is working with the concepts Contrapunctual realism and Multiversal realism, focusing on the visual perception[15] itself. It is intended as a parallel expression in pure painting to that of Peter Greenaway within cinema and video art, which assumes the fragmentation and complexity of the 21st century as a challenge to artistic articulation. Contrapunctual realism refers partly to the influence from the Canadian pianist Glenn Gould’s working methods and his way of conceiving interpretation.

Portrait Painting[edit]

Physant applies his personal concepts also in his portrait paintings, which always have held a central place within his work. He started drawing portraits from live models when he was 13 years old. In the portrait he seeks the humanity and the unconscious in order to compose the total work.

Physant has portrayed Danish and international musicians, writers business people and members of the Danish royal family. In 2014 he portrayed H.R.H. Princess Benedikte of Denmark in the work Multiversal Realisme i 12 faser (Multiversal realism in 12 phases) for her 70th birthday. In 2015 the Danish National Museum commissioned Physant to paint a portrait of H.M Queen Margrethe II of Denmark for her 75th birthday. The painting entitled At skab billeder af billeder (Creating images from images) was presented on April 14, 2015. The title refers to the queen's own works of art and to Physant's own artistic project. After the revelation of the portrait, a booklet exclusively about the portrait and its symbolism and references to Danish history was published. Among the contributors of the booklet, which is named after the painting, are the director of the National Museum of Denmark, Per Kristian Madsen, and specialist of portraits, Thyge Christian Fønss.

As well as his other paintings, Physant paints his portraits as fragmented image on relief wooden structures without a frame; a technique that is unique to the genre.


Lars Physant's self-portrait, commissioned by Vendsyssel Kunstmuseum, is an interpretation in painting of the Four Temperaments expressed in Carl Nielsen's Second Symphony Opus 16. The portrait consists of four paintings that constitute a single portrait. Each of the four works represents one of these classic temperaments; choleric, phlegmatic, melancholic and sanguine. Each of the four parts is further divided into four parts of the portrayed temperament. About this portrait, Physant writes: "From a metaphorical point of view, we could imagine that the sixteen faces making up this self-portrait are complimentary variations on the idea of a SELF-PORTRAIT, a FACE or the THRUTH. We are invited to face the truth of this face and thereby (possible) get a little closer to it."

Paintings in books[edit]

  • At skabe billeder af billeder - Portræt af H.M. Dronning Margrethe II af Danmark, Nationalmuseet, ISBN 978-87-7602-328-7
  • ARCHIPIÉLAGO - retrato polifónico de Rafael Argullol, Oriol Alonso Cano, Ediciones del subsuelo, ISBN 978-84-941646-9-9 (page 101)
  • FERIAS, Federico García Lorca (suite of poems by Inge & Klaus Rifbjerg), Gyldendal 2013, ISBN 978-87-02-15640-9
  • Glimt af et glemt Rom (View to a forgotten Rome), Ole Askov Olsen, Tanning & Appel 2003 ISBN 87-413-6424-4 Paintings by Lars Physant
  • Rom – Pladsernes by (Rome – city of squares), Ole Askov Olsen, Tanning & Appel 1996 ISBN 87-413-6343-4 Paintings by Lars Physant
  • Tree and Leaf, J. R. R. Tolkien, Danish edition published by ZAC 1987 OCLC 464041668 Cover design and illustrations by Lars Physant
  • Træ og Blæde, J. R. R. Tolkien, Norwegian edition Tiden Norsk Forlag A/S 1995 ISBN 82-10-03923-7 Cover design and illustrations by Lars Physant


  1. ^ "Lars Physant Biography". Lars Physant. Retrieved 2013.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  2. ^ ""La realidad calidoscópica" (2005)". El Periódico de Catalunya. Retrieved 2005.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  3. ^ Tolkien Society
  4. ^ Bogpriser Dk
  5. ^ Modern art Museum
  6. ^ Arthus Gallery He chose to move to Barcelona.
  7. ^ ""Comments by Christian Schultz-Lorentzen" (1995)". on the Rome III book. Retrieved 5 April 2013. 
  8. ^ Introspective naturalism
  9. ^ United divided reality
  10. ^ ""Retaules de f’isica i art" (2012)". El Punt Avui. Retrieved 2012.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  11. ^ ""Antològica del danès Lars physant" (2012)". Bonart. Retrieved 2012.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  12. ^ ""Momentets Skønhed Intervew by Lisbeth Bonde" (2008)". In Weekendavisen. Retrieved 2008.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  13. ^ ""Lars Physant expone sus trabajos en el Palau Monja" (2012)". La Vanguardia. Retrieved 2012.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  14. ^ Simultaneous perception
  15. ^ ""Vídeo, la obra de Lars Physant en el Palau Monja" (2012)". News España. Retrieved 2012.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  • Nuria D’Asprer, “Barcelona: passatges de traducció” Edicions Xoroi, 2013
  • Rafael Argullol, Vicenç Altaió, Roger Pierre Turine. exh. cat. Simultaneous perception, 2012
  • Lisette Vind Ebbesen, E.M. Bukdahl. exh. cat. Panta rei, 2011
  • Else Marie Bukdahl, Lisbeth Bonde. exh. cat. The complexity of seeing, 2008
  • Lisbeth Bonde, interview “Momentets Skønhed”, 2008
  • Jørgen Gleerup & Lars Nymark, ”Vær velkommen Herrens år”, Forlaget Aros, 2007
  • Else Marie Bukdahl. Exh. Cat. Flerhed af blikke, 2007
  • Pere Gimferrer, Klaus Rifbjerg, Enrique Badosa, Arnau Puig, Arne Haugen Sørensen. Exh. Cat. El trànsit de la llum, 2005
  • Lisbeth Algreen, Lone Raadam, Jørgen Reeckmann, ”Linjer i landskaber”, Alinea 2003
  • Kasper Monrad, ”Under samme himmel. Land og by i dansk og tysk kunst 1800-1850”, Thorvaldsens Museum 2000
  • Lise og Louise Svanholm,”Danske Portrætter 1985-1995”, Gyldendal 1995

External links[edit]