After a day of walking in Copenhagen’s drizzle, we stopped at a Danish restaurant on the Nyhavn canal, famous for its colorful houses in Copenhagen. Having a blanket while enjoying a hot traditional Danish coffee in the cold winter was an interesting experience.
The more it got darker, the colder the night was, hence we had to move inside. It was also a cozy and relaxing space with colorful paintings, golden lights and lovely windows.
We kept talking to each other so passionately that we didn’t notice an old gentleman sitting at a nearby table. It was only when he approached the painting at our table and drew some more strokes on it, we were then really surprised and started talking to him.
It turned out that he was the owner of this ancient house which had been leased to the restaurant, and also the owner of all the paintings in this restaurant and many paintings in nearby restaurants. He is a famous Danish artist and writer, who has published 60 books of all kinds, mainly novels of the history of Nyhavn Canal, the culture of Danish and many poems.
I hesitatingly shared that I was practicing drawing and showed him my latest work. He had a quick glance at it and asked me if I wanted to hear his opinion. I nodded enthusiastically. Then he asked, “Do you really want to hear it? You may not like it”. I replied that it would be my honor to receive a honest feedback from a famous artist like him.
He smiled and said: “You drew pretty well, very alike, even myself couldn’t draw like that. However, it didn’t have anything of your own, just like a photocopier and it’s not called art. If you want to establish your own signature, you have to destroy your perfection. The importance is that do you dare to do it? ”
Wow, it was a shocking comment. Well, he really spoke my mind. The more I paint, the more I find myself indulged in the perfection, I want the picture to look alike in every little detail. When I drew my brother, at first I liked to try the acrylic color with new drawing style. However, when I had spent a lot of effort to create a perfection, I was afraid to destroy it, fearing that my not-yet-defined creative would ruin the painting. That’s exactly what he said. If you want to create art, you have to dare to destroy old works. What a profound comment of an experienced artist.
Then, he gave me a tissue dipped with yellow acrylic and asked me to freely add to any painting in that room of the restaurant. Wow, another shocking request. I was really embarrassed because I didn’t know how to do it without ruining his work. He constantly encouraged me, so I just did it.
Do you know what I added in these paintings? The answer lies in the video clip below
I really appreciated the goodness behind his actions, no matter how I drew on those paintings, it was important that he wanted to show me he was willing to let me destroy his completed works, so do I have the brave to destroy my own paintings?
That was an incidental and interesting encounter, and a good lesson about art and life.
Traveled on Feb, 2019.