"Most people in the creative field will struggle getting motivated or inspired often or even all the time. The difference between someone that creates a lot of work and are seemingly inspired all the time and the rest, is that artist knows how to trick himself into a creative mode. It could be by looking at art that inspires you, listening to music, watching an inspiring series, anything that you find inspiring." - ULDALEN
Henrik Aarrestad Uldalen (1986) is a self-taught artist whose creative production revolves around classic figurative painting, presented in a contemporary manner. Henrik explores the dark sides of life, nihilism, existentialism, longing and loneliness, juxtaposed with fragile beauty. Though a figurative painter, his focus has always been the emotional content rather than narratives. The atmospheres in his work is often presented in a dream or limbo-like state, with elements of surrealism.
WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU SAW THAT INSPIRED YOU TO CREATE?
I suppose the current state of the world inspired me to create. I have always had a predisposition to pessimism, and perhaps with good reason, but by surrounding myself and diving into this black pit on a daily basis I actually get to tire myself so much on the subject that I actually leave the studio in the evening feeling like just having fun and do enjoyable things. I like to think of it as my therapy session. No one likes therapy, it's painful and traumatic, but you might leave the unburdened.
We see influences of neoclassical styles in your work. We love those artists that are currently returning to the classic and making them new again. What excites you about your process?
I was massively into the french academy and the neo-classicist when I started out painting. Their sense of beauty and sensitivity always fascinated and spoke to me. It has since grown to bore me a lot. I'm trying to break free of my beginnings and that way of painting. The process of neo-classicist painting is not at all appealing to me anymore, I crave to work without plan. My guess is that I will never really be able to shake it completely off, it's been such a helpful vehicle for me to realise my earliest dreams and aspirations.
Picasso once said you have to work to find inspiration. Do you agree or like many others believe that inspiration comes by being open and waiting for it to land on you?
I believe that inspiration can magically drizzle down on your head and it will be wonderful, but if you want to make art a living you'll have to find yourself another way of jolting yourself into creative mode. Most people in the creative field will struggle getting motivated or inspired often or even all the time. The difference between someone that creates a lot of work and are seemingly inspired all the time and the rest, is that artist knows how to trick himself into a creative mode. It could be by looking at art that inspires you, listening to music, watching an inspiring series, anything that you find inspiring. I like to force myself to sit down and do a random thoughtless sketch of anything. By the time I'm halfway done with the sketch I remember why I love painting. Since it's only a sketch and I feel quite detached to the work, I have little problems playing with the medium or experimenting along the way, and often I discover something in the process of this exercise.
What subject matters are you touching on with your work?
I mostly touch upon topics of existentialism, longing, loneliness, apathy, you know, all the usual party tricks.
How important is being vulnerable in the creative process?
For me it's vital. I have always considered myself an expressionist trapped in the body of a neoclassicist painter. Expressing my true inner life is all I want to do with my art. That said, I believe that any mark deliberately put down to express how it is to be a human in this day and age is or can be art. Even lies. I believe that's why so many of us are obsessed with beauty in the arts. To escape the reality we're in and give ourselves a breather before heading back into the black.
What elements are important when creating a piece of work? When you are done with a piece what do you look for to feel COMPLETE?
I try to make something that feels both substantial yet light and effortless. Dark in concept, light in execution. I find myself wanting to balance between the worlds, saying something loud and clear but muffled in fog. It's difficult to say what I want and when it's there, but when it is I just know it.
If you could sit down with anyone and have a conversation who would it be?
If I could sit down with anyone and have a conversation, but also be smart enough to understand the guy, it would be Stephen Hawking.
Favorite facial feature to paint and why?
I love painting noses for some reason unknown. This subtle and contourless hump can so drastically change its form by the gentlest of touches, it almost fascinates me.
What do you want to accomplish with your career?
I used to want it all. I used to have ambitions that would stretch far beyond my capabilities. Somehow I shed them all, and now I just want to make true art that expresses my most inner desires, emotions and fears, without thinking about my career. Perhaps I'll make my best work as a result of this shift of focus.