Crowds of people and mythic creatures appear clustered on the canvas in richly patterned clothes washed in cool hues of purple and blue with warm touches of luminous orange. These are the works of Danish artist Rune Christensen whose compositions are inspired by his travels around the globe, melding different cultures, histories and narratives to create a powerful sense of vitality. Wanderlust, his first solo exhibition at Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, London, is as much a celebration of the beauty and diversity of our world as it is an expression of longing.
‘The feeling of wanderlust has haunted me my whole life,’ says Christensen. ‘I have a restless desire to move, experience and learn, and although I’ve spent many years travelling across the globe, I’ve never been able to completely satisfy that hunger.’ Whilst the artist is now, for the most part, based in Denmark, painting enables him to connect to his memories of travelling while also imagining new worlds. Part of this process involves embracing a spontaneous approach to image-making. Christensen rarely plans his compositions, and although he might refer to photographs that he’s either taken or collected, these are used more for atmospheric inspiration. ‘I paint my thoughts, things I’ve seen, read or listened to, textures and smells, interactions between people,’ he says. As a result, each of his paintings incorporates a vast array of references to different cultures, fashions and beliefs which are unified by the artist’s distinct graphical style and controlled colour palette.