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Go Figure, Dansk Magazine

Af Moussa Mchangama
You’ve seen them before. Either the naughty little rococo-style shepherdesses of the 18th century tableaus or the ones your grandma used to have. Deer jumping around, trimmed poodles or romantic couples in love. Figurines in porcelain have long been forgotten as a true form of art, with mainly antiquarians and the elderly keeping it alive.

But the winds are changing. While her whole interest started exactly because of that public opinion on porcelain, the work of Danish artist Louise Hindsgavl surprises and renews the genre. Celebrated internationally, her contorted and grim yet strangely beautiful figurines aren’t just pretty mantelpieces. They comment on the parts of society and the human mind that most of us want to hide.

"Most of my pieces start with an anger or an uncomprehending of inter-human situations. I try to deal with these repulsive sides of mankind, and by doing so I hope to stimulate a bit of reflection and make the world just a tiny bit better,” Louise Hindsgavl says, noting that she’s well aware of the cliché and her main audience being educated and intelligent. 

"But I still think we need someone — at any time — to help us remember our imperfections and ugliness. My starting point is often the incomplete human,” she continues. Not wanting to wag her fingers at anyone, her development over the last years has been remarkable.

"My intention is to make us more comfortable and familiar with our darker sides. Everyone has them. It’s my own take on this genre. They started out being pretty simple, but now they’ve become more crude and intense, while showing more elegance and complexity.”   

With her works being represented at very international galleries (like Nancy Margolis Gallery in New York and Galleri Christoffer Egelund in Copenhagen, the latter having just very successfully represented her at The Volta Show in Basel), upcoming exhibitions in Hong Kong and Copenhagen and a new collaboration with the old and acclaimed Danish design brand Kähler on a new range og figurines, she’s not your average small artisan. And she wants to continue evolving the genre.

"It’s so important to me, that the work I do doesn't portray the idyllic world traditional porcelain does. It would be both boring and an artistic failure. In my experience, too much work pressure over a long period constrains my ability to get new ideas — and they’re so important for my development,” she says.

And while her pieces are becoming quite fashionable themselves, she’s not at all a slave of fashion.

"I choose what suits me, and I’m quite classic in that way. I channel al my creative energy in my work, not my wardrobe,” she explains, adding that she does find fashion inspirational.

"But I find fashion very inspirational. Garments that make it both unthinkable and impossible to go grocery shopping. The extravagant sort, where it becomes sculptural formations on and around the body. That’s very inspirational. Maybe that’s why, I have a soft spot for shoes…”