A House by the Sea
Else Fischer-Hansen, a rather underrecognized artist, began as a naturalistic painter studying in Copenhagen at the Emil Rannow’s School of Painting. She continued her education traveling abroad to Italy and later Nice, France where it is believed Henri Matisse’s work played a key role in her development as an artist. Fischer-Hansen’s attendance at a graphics art school in Nice coincided with Matisse’s existence in Nice’s suburbs- Cimiez- wherein the famous Fauvist spent the remainder of his days. Given the era, the context of Europe, and spanning influence that stimulated painters and graphic designers alike, the concept to depict scenes in their purest state leaving behind realistic representation, as Matisse expressed, was groundbreaking. Fischer-Hansen found inspiration from the newfound perspective and incorporated elements of the style as a means to amplify the beauty within her art.
The artist’s naturalistic approach soon transitioned into abstraction during the 1930s as a result of the Abstract Movement. Scenes from her home in Rågelie, a former fishing village, lead to a desire to produce lyrical capturing’s of human emotion felt by the artist in that moment of painting. Nature, light and air were crucial elements in Fischer-Hansen’s compositions and were painted in the simplest of form. The artist deemed her work to be “psychological images”, as a response to a more than year-long hospitalization. It is speculated Fischer-Hansen dealt with manic and bi-polar disorder, leaving her to act irrational and violent. Her marriage with Egon Mathiesen, an influential Danish colorist, was quite abusive and dangerous as the artist was mentally unstable.
One can question this erratic behavior is suggestive in her paintings. Yet, the direct opposite is presented. Light, soft and airy colors consume each canvas with smooth singular brushstrokes. The practice reveals a meditative and lyrical experience. The sun and sea in particular were of vital inspiration to the artist.
Her dedication to form and color remained evident and later transferred into the Cobra movement in the 1940s. The short-lived yet influential collective was committed to a rebellious and political style of painting. In 1941, Fischer-Hansen participated in the famous Tent Exhibition in Dyrehaven as a means to encourage collaborative art-making during the political unrest of World War ll. This movement implored for freedom to explore line, form and color while moving fluidly between pictorial representation and abstract invention. Abstraction persisted in her practice until 1980, where she joined the Colorists, an association that suited her poetic sensibility.