A portrait of Ole Aakjaer
Ole Aakjær (b. 1962) is a Copenhagen-based, internationally-renowned watercolor and ink artist best known for large-format, highly symbolic works that celebrate the power of women. His distinct figurative paintings rely on bold colors and symbols to convey deep psychological empathy, while exploring the complexity and strength of their subjects. Aakjær portrays women as vulnerable yet empowered, sensual, fearless, seductive, and independent. 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 allude to the woman’s mysterious thoughts and feelings.
Aakjær struggled as a sensitive, passionate child and youth in search of stability and calm. He turned to drawing and painting as a source of comfort and escape. 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. With a brazen nod to his previous career in his use of oversized keywords, Aakjaer’s large scale watercolors and techniques are unparalleled. The combination of ink and watercolor require great mastery as there is no room for error or corrections. The desired result must be achieved on the first application. This is in many ways the poetry of the watercolour – and of Ole Aakjær’s work.
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 Coppenhagen, New York, Paris, and Montreal. Upcoming solo museum exhibitions include the Chinese Contemporary Art Museum, Chongqing, China, in June and July, and Vejle Kunstmuseum, Jutland, Denmark between July 16 and September 19 2021. Aakjær has participated in more than 70 solo and group exhibitions since 2014. The artist lives and works in Denmark.