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Erik Thommesen

Erik Thommesen is self-taught as an artist. To start with he studied zoology, but began drawing and painting in 1936. In 1937 he made his first sculpture in clay, and the following year he carved the first one out of wood, which should become his preferred medium. He made his debut in 1937.
 
In the following years Erik Thommesen (1916-2008) regularly joined in exhibitions with other young, Danish artists. In the years 1944-49 he was affiliated with the artists’ group Høst-udstillingen, and in 1949 and 1951 he participated in the great Cobra exhibitions in Amsterdam and Liège respectively.
 
In response to the many experiments of the post-war years he and Ejler Bille founded in 1951 the group Martsudstillingen, which focussed on tradition-bound values.
 
Erik Thommesen is an enquiring artist, who also draws upon other cultures and art of former times. His works display inspiration from for instance African sculpture and Egyptian art. He seeks beyond themes that are typical of the time and tries to express something of common and universal value. He is like no one else, and the spectator seldom has any doubt that a sculpture is created by him.
 
His sculptures are always based on the human figure. Not a precise, figurative representation of the human being. Almost everything that would make the figure recognisable as a human being – arms, legs, and face – has been cut away. Only the most essential remains – the human being as body and being. At the same time many of his sculptures express solidarity and humanity, and in sculptures with titles like ”Mand og Kvinde” (“Man and Woman”) values like solidarity and love are evident.
 
There are also sculptures in granite and bronze created by Erik Thommesen. But the greater number are carved in hardwood. The sculptures have no pedestals, but rise directly from the ground like a column. The work process is slow, demanding and meditative. He does not give any thought to external effects or decoration – it is the form, the rhythm and the motion in the sculpture that matter.
 
In the plaza in front of Holstebro Kunstmuseum is one of Erik Thommesen’s major works – the bronze sculpture ”Mand” (“Man”) (1974).
Erik Thommesen, foto Klaus Holsting