Do you know The Danish Rockstar / Author Lars Muhl?

Do you know The Danish Rockstar / Author Lars Muhl?
Lars Muhl, Danish Rockstar and Esoteric Author.

I am so excited. I have recently interviewed Lars Muhl, the Danish Rockstar, who was big in the 1980s and ’90s and now is more famous for his esoteric books (some would call them spiritual books). I have read one of them “The Seer” about Lars’ own spiritual journey and it is highly recommendable. I could not put it down.

Anyway, I have been thinking a lot about what I could do to aid all the young kids out there, as well as frustrated / stressed parents who suffer from anxiety, performance pressure, comparison pressure, addiction, depression….you name it. That is why I decided to ask Lars Muhl about his take on all this. So two months ago I wrote his assistant an email and asked if he would be up for an interview. I honestly did not think I was gonna get a reply, but what could I loose by asking, right? What I wanted to ask him was: Why does he think it has gotten “this far out” with our mental health in a time where we have more than many of us need (materialistically) and where we have so much knowledge from the past to learn from. Why are we not doing better mentally and physically? And, how does he think we can solve this major challenge.

I was extremely surprised and happy when I received an email back from Lars Muhl himself, stating that he would do the interview and dear reader. I have now done it and soon you will be able to read it!

My little family <3

It became a very interesting, controversial and for me even more mind-opening interview, which I cannot wait to share with you when I am back from H O L I D A Y in Bulgaria in a week from today (Yes, we leave today). I will be residing for a week in the countryside surrounded by wonderful nature, fresh veggies and fruits from the huge garden of my Mum in Law, Iskra and I can’t wait. As you may have read, I live in amazing Berlin, which I truly love, but I do miss nature and I really wish for our son Jordan who is soon 2 1/2 years-old, that he can experience longer periods of time in nature where “the real” life unfolds and where we are more offline than online <3

A very big smile from me to you,

Nina

Read the entire interview with Successful Painter René Holm

Read the entire interview with Successful Painter René Holm
René Holm by Dino Mari

It is 11.00 and I am in Berlin Friedrichshain to meet the famous Danish painter René Holm, who has a studio both here in Berlin and one in Denmark. René greets me with his black hat, black T-shirt and black shorts. He opens the door to a super cool flat in a building that used to house a factory. The flat has high ceilings, is stylish, minimalistic and done with class. It is full of amazing art pieces, both René’s work and the work of others.

The first room we step into is his studio and I feel a thrill of excitement. I had not expected to get s sneak peak into his work in progress. This magic space where creativity flows and turns into art pieces manifested on a canvas. “Wow, can I take a look?” I ask. “Yes, sure” René replies and adds that he often has clients who come to see his unfinished work and some even buy it before it is done. “I work on several pieces at once and move around between them. Last night I worked on this one and painted the wire a bit longer” he says and points to a large picture on the wall of a girl by a lake (see below). We talk about his art for a while before he makes me a cuppa tea and we sit down to start the interview.

René Holm standing infront of one of his paintings, which is still a work-in-progress. Photo by Nina Hall

Nina: Who are you René Holm?

René: Well first of all I am a Danish artist who is very curious about telling stories through my work. I am a painter, which is easy to see if you see my work. I love all the different layers, the different techniques in paintings…ehm, cause painters they work in very different ways. You can see painters that almost don’t have any layers. If you see my work, you can really see that I am a painter.

So to come back to your question: I am a painter and I want to tell stories to the viewers and that is probably why I find it interesting to work with people who struggle most in their lives. Not that it is something that I do personally. Well I do have some concerns and thoughts about my work all the time of course, but mostly for me it is interesting to visit people that we hear about in the news or we see on the streets. Then you know, you have thoughts about them and our kids have thoughts about them and we talk about it in our family. So for me it is important once in a while to meet those people.

Now I want to meet the refugees. I want to meet the homeless people. All those that I don’t meet in my daily life. So, it is kind of like a research in the beginning. Almost like somebody who travels around and tells stories to a newspaper. I keep all those experiences for myself. You know, we can Google everything but to see the people and to maybe feel their pain, smell the smell of a homeless, hear their stories, you know in the street. It is something else than if you google everything. So I come home with all those experiences, feelings and I always bring my camera.

Nina: When you go out?

René: Yes, so I can take pictures of people. And then I come home after a trip to somewhere and I have many pictures of somewhere or of a group of people. Then it takes me a while to figure out why this is interesting. Why is this interesting for the viewer. How can I take those people into my work and put them in a new or different environment and through that tell stories to the viewer. Cause for me it is important as an artist and if I see art, that the artwork can have a dialogue with the viewer. So if it is hanging in your home or in a company and 4-5 or 10 people are standing in front of it then maybe they can have a good discussion. It is not about if they want the work in their living room, but mostly if it can give a good discussion about ”no I think he is looking for that or searching for that”.

Quite often I have people who write me long emails about that they have seen my work. I don’t know them and they write me very honest stories about how that painting reminded them about a certain thing in their life. And that is a big thing for me, that they actually take time to do that. It is just a good feeling that my work actually does something for somebody. That keeps me going into the studio every day.

So first of all, when I go into the studio it is not for the…. (René pauses)…of course I want to sell it, cause I need to sell my art, cause I have tons of expenses. But it is never with that option or that point of view when I start to do a series of work. Cause after almost 20 years of course I know which paintings are easier to sell than other paintings. And especially with my new and very dark series of paintings I know that they are harder to sell because they are so dark. Most people want to have bright paintings in their room and also because of what they tell.

Nina: Why do you think so may of us don’t like dark paintings in our homes? We talked a bit about this when I arrived today, before we started the interview, and you said ”actually life is both light and dark”. We have the night that is dark and it can be beautiful biking home in the dark. But we automatically associate the darkness with something negative. Do you think that could be a reason why many of us refrain from having a darker pictures?

René: I am sure that is one of the reasons. It is because the darkness is a mental thing and a physical thing. And for me the darkness is really beautiful when I ride my bike through the city or a park at night, you know to take a piss with my dog late at night. I often stand in the street and I am almost the only one there and you see the light from the light poles or the stars or the moon or whatever. Then you have the mental part, which will strike every human in life and we will all loose somebody close to us eventually.

I have friends who have been in a dark period. It can be from a divorce, it can be from work, stress or whatever and then we all need to find our way back to life. And that is why all the paintings have small light points.

Maybe you can recognize this picture René is standing infront of? It is the same as the one you have seen above of the girl by the lake. However, this photo was taken some days before the other one. Fascinating to spot the massive change the painting has undergone.True work-in-progress. Photo of René Holm in his studio in Berlin by Dino Mari.

So either they are holding a light to kind of guide them through life, or they are searching for the light on the other side. And it can be the beauty there that they are looking for, but it can also be you know, to come back to life.

Now you ask me why people don’t want to have dark paintings mostly, and I think some people they can see the beauty in them, but a lot of people…I think they are kind of afraid to have them. Not only to look at, but also because it can send a wrong signal to their friends or family you know. Why do you have something so dark?

Nina: ”What are you hiding from us…haha”

René: Yeah, and especially as a Dane, you know we need to be so positive. We are that most……..

Nina: Most happy nation, right?

René: I don’t know where it comes from haha…. (we both laugh)

Nina: Yeah, I also asked myself that a few times…(note to reader: I Nina, grew up in Denmark, too)

René: So I think sometimes, especially as I know Danes, you know we have to be so positive, we have to live so amazing. What we have on our walls should be like ”happy clowns” or whatever. I do know a lot of people who have dark paintings with dark themes, but that is because I do what I do. I know a lot of people who collect art, but that is 2-3% of the population in Denmark who really collect art and also see the beauty in something dark or a dramatic photo with blood.

Nina: Yes and to get through life you cannot avoid the darkness. But if you constantly avoid it because it is uncomfortable, for me at least, there is something you are trying to escape from right? If you dare to look at it and feel what it really provokes inside you, then you can also let it go. But if you always try and hide it away, it just will stay inside you. Then every time you see something dark it will feel uncomfortable until you get past this and can just see it for what it is.

René: Uhm…

Nina: I must admit I can feel like the people you describe as being uncomfortable with the dark pictures. But, at the same time it also makes me curious cause I am always searching for why I feel the way I do, so I get curious to find out, why does it make me uncomfortable.

René: Yes, some of the works that are dark and have this dark feeling or atmosphere show that there is something happening which is not part of the perfect life. Some people will see them (the paintings) but they don’t comment them cause you know, this is too dark.

Sometimes I wish that we could have some of the way of living like they have in South America, cause they really almost celebrate darkness and death in another way. And they strongly believe that there is something after death, like in other religions in the far east. So for them darkness is not something negative. And as you said it is almost something that you don’t talk about. And you know in my family, as my parents and my mother in law …. (René pauses for a while)….hvad fa’en hedder svigerforældre (that was Danish and means: what the f…. do you call in-laws)?

Nina: In-laws

René: In-laws… hahaha….It’s like…we don’t talk about not feeling good. Really not at all in our family. It is something you just swallow. And I don’t know any families that don’t have any issues. Really!

Nina: No, the perfect family does not really exist although we all try to create it.

René: Well, I know some where they really really want to show that their family is super perfect. Their kids are like super kids and I don’t fucking believe it!

Nina: Yeah and the thing is also what is the cost. What is the price you pay to try and create this perfect family.

René: That is a lot of stomach pain. When something goes wrong in a family like that, which I have seen….that all of a sudden the son or the daughter does something or the husband might come out and say: “well I have seen this other woman for five years “ or whatever…then everything just brakes totally down. Then you can really talk about darkness and finding your way back. And I often hear…and that really makes me mad…the “what would other people think” phrase.

Nina: Yes, but that is the general problem right, of people living lives they create to be accepted by the outside world.

René: And that is really bullshit! You know when people say: “what would other people think if we do so, or if I get tattoos or if I get whatever”. I am like, if you want to do it, then do it! What does it matter?

Nina: Yes, and would people really care about what YOU do in the end? Maybe they would talk about it for a few minutes and then that’s it. We always think everyone else it so occupied with that we do, but actually they are not.

René: No no.

Nina: It is all in our heads. And we are so afraid of falling outside the norm and not being accepted. And if you are like this, you can keep being like that for the rest of your life.

René: I think some people they really…if people do something different…think: “ why didn’t we do that too? You know I am working from 07.00 – 18.00 and I am doing whatever…”

Nina: Maybe just to make money…

René: It IS to make money to have the perfect outside life. And especially with all the media now, we show our perfect life. If you are on holiday it is almost like: “Don’t touch your food and put the expensive wine bottle in front of the camera” so that everyone can see how great our vacation is.

Nina: When you walk down the street and you see people at the restaurants, many of them are not even talking together, cause they are busy posting pictures of their food on social media. And does it really make you feel better when you get 10 or 20 likes? Why is it we do this? Is it to get acceptance?

René: Some people do it to tell their story and some people do it to be part of the great world, or be famous, or get accepted. I am that old that I grew up before the smart phone… haha….good for me, but as a dad of two kids… (René pauses…)

René infront of one of his paintings from the Darkness series. Although it seems dark, when the sunlight hits the painting, it reveals so much color. Just like you see in this picture here, where the sun is shining onto the painting.

Nina: How old are your kids?

René: 21 and 16.

Nina: And the 21 year-old is your son and the 16 year-old is your daughter.

René: Yes, and for my daughter it is definitely more important to show the perfect pictures on instagram. They both don’t use facebook. Or almost not at all.

Nina: So the younger generation is more on instagram and snapchat?

René: Totally. Facebook is almost done for them. They probably go through it to see who’s birthday it is today, just to say happy birthday.

Nina: Why do you think it is like that? That it is different how your daughter and your son are on social media? Are girls more into what other people think of them? (….to be continued)

René: In general I think they are. You know as a dad to both a boy and a girl, I knew that there would be more, you know what I call small problems in my daughters world, which in her world are like huge problems, then there would be with having a son. It is not that I love my son more than I love my daughter, but I just knew. You know once I was a teenager and when boys have issues they either hit each other on the shoulders or say “ok, fuck you”… and lets go play some soccer again.

With girls, they are just more mean to each other. I always told my daughter that when she gets a boyfriend, and now she has a boyfriend, since we all have cameras and I can see that people post you know pictures of them selves in bed and in underwear etc.

Nina: From the age of your daughter?

René: Yeah, they start around 14 or 15…and you know I told her this years ago, cause I know people take more nude pictures of each other. I just said to her: “don’t take any sexy photos of yourself and send to your boyfriend. If you get some, then delete them!”. Cause if you really want to hurt somebody when you brake up and you really hate the other person, then having almost a nude photo of somebody, being in that place of pain and even though you know it is wrong, but you just want to hurt that person, then you post it.

Nina: And then there is no way back. Then it is out there!

René: Yeah it is.

Nina: Yeah, this is a big issue in Denmark. I remember reading about a case with kids that posted pornographic content and it is as if they don’t understand what happens in the “real world” when you do something like that. Maybe because so much of their life is in the online world. It is a bit like you are somewhat disconnected from what is happening outside you in the physical world. You have two worlds now, online and offline. Online is something you can create and you can make a fake lifestyle.

René: Yeah really. You can fake your face…haha.

Nina: Yes, and then you build this life that you would like to live, but the more you build it, the more distant it becomes from the real life. Then you just have this huge gap, which is emptiness. I think this is why we see so many young people with big personal problems, cause you are constantly in a state of comparison. Everything is posted online, so you can also compare everything. I really wish for young people they would detox from the online world and try and live without internet for a while. Be in nature or do something else and tune back into who they REALLY are and feel that it is about them and not everyone else.

René: It is a lot about being perfect. Have the perfect legs, but, boobs, face, lips, you know. And I try to say everyday that: “No one IS perfect. I can see that one of the girls you follow on istagram or a friend has longer legs than you, but then she doesn’t have you know…this or that that which you have,” I tell my daughter.

Nina: We also don’t post our imperfections right. Girls might be beautiful, but maybe extremely stupid or you know…

René: There is a funny woman on instagram or facebook (note: her name is Celeste Barber) and what she does is that she finds those really perfect women laying on the beach or by the pool in a perfect pose. Then this woman does the pose in her environment. And you know it is so cool! She really shows how we look.

Celeste Barber on her Instagram profile.

Nina: She is also not the model-type of woman, but more the “housewife-type”

René: She’s got a tummy and morning hair.

Nina: I think she is Australian and she is hilarious! So, now we have talked about your values when it comes to bringing up your kids. I guess you would like them to be more true to who they are and not focus so much on perfection and the outer world.

René: You can try you know, but I don’t know if you succeed.

Nina: How would you describe your own childhood if you look back?

René: Well it was not about you know, being perfect. I think you always want to look as good as you can, when you get to a certain age and begin getting interested in girls. That is how it was for me at least. Me and my friend would go shopping, cause fashion was a big thing for us. But there was not all this posting thing going on. We could only try to make our hair as cool as possible with gel and all that…

Nina: And impress the girls at a party!

René: Yeah, you know…maybe by being a good dancer. But for me, it was definitely a childhood without a lot of concerns. I grew up with my parents and my brother and we lived very close to the forest, until I moved out from childhood home. I would say from the age of 6-8 years until 12 or 13, I remember that almost everyday when I came home from school with some friends, we would drop our school bags, put our knives in our belts and go into the forest and then we made arrows, bows and spears and shelters. I had a dog around me all the time. We kind of thought we were this Robbin Hood gang living in the forest.

Nina: You were also creating things.

René: Yeah, and we came home smelling of dirt. We heard there were other gangs in the same city doing stuff in the forest. Then we went out to try and find their little camp…haha.. and if they were not in their camps, then maybe we could steal their spears and bows and that was really cool!

Nina: I don’t think a lot of 13 year-old boys do that today? It is probably more computer games.

Painting by René Holm.

René: Yeah and I could also sit for hours drawing all by myself. Today I have friends with small kids and when I come and visit them, I never see 2 or 4 kids sitting at a table with tons of paper, crayons and markers and just drawing for hours. You know, today they are sitting with their phones or iPads doing like this…(scrolling) with their fingers up and down. And you know I think about it almost every time I see it.

I think you can be creative and I know the world is changing from people hacking into a stone, to drawing and that is fair enough. But, I think you will loose young kids who actually are creative if the parents don’t spot it at a very early age and you know get into a small art class  after school. But I do think you loose some talent. It is also very easy, cause you get home (as a parent) and you are very tired and you just give them an iPad with a movie.

Nina: It is the “quick fix”, but maybe long-term it is actually a very bad fix.

René: School also did not mean a lot for me! Haha….

Nina: So you were not that enthusiastic about school?

René: I was in school every day and I did my homework, but you know I would rather be in the forest or come home and draw. When I turned around 15 or 16 years-old the whole hip-hop / graffiti wave from America and New York rolled in over Europe like a Tsunami. With all the album covers with trains with graffiti on. With the Wild Style movie that came out in the early 1980s as the first movie where all the photographers followed all the graffiti painters into the tubes in New York. And I was doing hip hop and break dance with my white gloves….

Nina: You were into break dance? You are a dancer too then…Haha!

René: Yeah! I love to dance (we both laugh). So you know that whole thing really just hit me like I don’t know… maybe like what young women might have felt when they first saw Elvis moving his hips in his leather pants.

Nina: You were sold!

A very young René Holm doing Graffit back in 1986

René: I was totally sold. And there were just two books you could get. First one came out with graffiti from New York. Because you know back then we could not Google everything!

Nina: No of course. You had to get physical books. And you had to go to the library?

René: Yeah, and there was one book and one movie. And then all the album covers came with graffiti on. So I was sitting in front of the Tv with the old VHS tapes and I would put the video recorder on pause, to see trains with graffiti on. Then I was sitting in front of the tv and drawing to learn how to do graffiti.

Nina: Wow, this IS a whole other process than today where we can just google everything.

TAKI 183 graffiti.

René: I think my son Oliver was around 10 when we took like 4 hours on the internet and I gave him the whole story of graffiti from TAKI 183, who was like one of the first to do tags in NYC in the late 70s and the whole story up until today. And then after you have been looking at what other graffiti painters would do, then you start to create your own style.

Nina: So your first passion was actually graffiti and tagging?

René: Yup.

Nina: So that is how it started. Was this when you realized you would like to do something along those lines for a living? I mean, you live of painting today, but when did you find out you wanted to be a painter?

René: Oh, it was definitely not when I was doing graffiti, cause that was something really cool and it was a rush you know, to crawl out of the window when your parents were sleeping. It was really a big thing! We would sit and make drawings and listen to hip hop. I don’t remember I thought I was gonna be an artist. Maybe I thought back then it would be cool to do graffiti for the rest of my life. Then you get older and you get a job and then you maybe get your first apartment and you need to be somewhere every morning at 08.00. You begin to realize that maybe you are getting to old for this graffiti shit…haha! You know, I still thought it was cool and during the winter I would teach kids at a school how to do graffiti.

Nina: So you taught Kids graffiti skills.

René: Yup, hired by my city. I thought this was pretty weird you know, hiring me to teach kids how to do graffiti….so that they then can go out and do graffiti.

Nina: Yeah, then they need to train some people in removing it after…haha…

René: Haha…yeah! So I think 10 years after I stopped doing graffiti, I bought a canvas. I actually don’t know what made me do it. Maybe cause I had some regular jobs and I thought: “this is kind of boring” and I did it just to make some money. I always liked to do something with my hands and that was to draw or do graffiti.

Nina: Or building things in the forest…

René Holm’s studio in Berlin with work-in-progress on the walls. Picture by Dino Mari

René: Yeah. And then I thought I could try to do paintings. You know, I am not from a home with art. We had something on our walls but we did not talk about art. We didn’t go to galleries. I don’t think that my parents ever took me to a museum …haha! Then I began to paint and my friends would say: “can we buy that?”. And I would say: “sure”….and they would ask: “and how much is it?” and I would think, well what are my expenses for the canvas and a few hours work. You know….give me €100 or whatever.

Nina: And that is how it started?

René: That is how it started. Then I did some more and I went to a place to get them framed and this guy said: “Have you ever thought about exhibiting them?” and I am like: “how do I do that?” and then came my first exhibition.

Nina: When was that?

René: Ohhh…(René thinks for a while and says)…that is probably back in 1986 or 1987.

Nina: And then it just took off from there and today you exhibit all around the world?

René: Many places yeah. And you know I am not the kind of guy that is afraid of taking a chance. I actually had a job. I was selling clothing.

Nina: But you also mentioned you liked fashion.

René: Yeah yeah. It was an interest, but if I had made a choice to be in fashion I would have probably been the one on the designer part rather than the selling part.

Nina: Maybe that is due to the need to have an outlet for your creativity, cause it is such a big part of you.

René: Yeah, and you know I had a good job, a nice car, and they paid my expenses. I had a free phone and was traveling and making good money. But, I could just feel that the more I was painting, I knew I would have to do it 100% to see if I am really good at this.

Nina: Wow, so you just quit your job?

René: I quit my job and back then our son Oliver was 2 years and 3 months old. My girlfriend also quit her job. She was selling insurances. We sold out little house. Our first house. We packed everything down. Then we bought 17 open airplane tickets, which we should use in a year. Then we bought one ticket to Bangkok. We did not go to Google earth and we did not book a room. We had not planned our next flight.

Nina: Wow, and this was with a little son of 2.

René: Yeah, so he had his little red suitcase that any kid had at that time and he was allowed to pack what he could fit into that, from his room full of “made in China” toys. That was all that he could bring. Then we traveled for 10 months and had an amazing trip. That was really an eye opener to what I was planning to come home with. We were traveling around using our savings. We made some money on the house we sold and we knew we were coming back within a year. We had some money left over for when we came back, so we could start on a fresh.

Nina: This is so important in my opinion, when you want to start something. One thing is to quit your job and say I am gonna try out my dream, but you still had some money saved up as a back-up. When I first wanted to do music, I also quit my job on a whim, and I did not have a backup of savings. So, I quickly began to freak out about where the money was gonna come from and this completely blocked my creative process. So for me that was the disastrous way, where as the way you did, well at least you did not have the same financial worry.

René: Well it was not a big concern, but still it was there for it was not millions we had at all. We knew that when we came home from our trip, we had to start on a fresh in a new home and my girlfriend needs to get a new job.

Nina: And you were gonna focus on your painting?

René: And I was starting on the academy of Art for five years with no income! So it was not like our economy was of no concern, cause I was going from a good salary to zero.

Nina: So your girlfriend became the breadwinner at that time?

René: Yes, cause she got her old job back. We talked about this earlier, that a lot of people might have thought: “why don’t we do that” when they saw what we did, but they were not brave enough to do it.

Nina: Yes it is most likely the fear of not being able to control the situation, while jumping into the unknown.

René: Yes and the thought about “what will happen when we come back”.

René with one of his paintings from the Darkness Exhibition. Photo by Dino Mari

Nina: You know, I think it is cause we are so wired for the negative side effects that could happen when you do something new. The focus is most often on what can go wrong and not what you can achieve and people go: “did you think about the consequences”? But just think about what you CAN achieve by changing your lifestyle and trying something new.

René: Of course there were some concerns from our parents. I was quitting a good job.

Nina: And being the farther of a very little one, too.

René: The place where I worked offered me to be partner of the company and actually to take it over within an amount of time.

Nina: And you said no?

René: I said no.

Nina: This also shows how much you really want to realize your dream of painting and that you have to be prepared to take risks.

René: Yes, and you only live once! All our friends thought it was great what we did.

Nina: So what would you then say if one of your kids came home and said: “Dad, I want to be a painter”.

René: “Good luck. Give it all you got and if it doesn’t work out, you can do something else. If you have this dream or if you think you have a talent in something creative, be it writing, singing or painting or all the other art forms, then you should give it a try. And then say to yourself: “I am gonna give it a try 100% for say…five years”. If everyday is a struggle about how to get get food and pay the bills, then after five years you must accept that now you can only do it part-time.

Nina: So then it is time to get a job and an income and do your art on the side.

René: And maybe that will succeed. You don’t know, but you should give it a shot.

Nina: Yes, cause if you are so creative as a person and you don’t use this talent, it is such a waste! I mean, one thing is if you can live of it or not, but if you completely shut it down to have say a full-time job, I do believe you shut down such a huge part of yourself at the same time, that you will very rarely feel complete happiness. You are not using a big part of yourself and what you need to express. So instead of “either or” maybe it just has to be a mix for a while.

René: Yes, and when I was going to the Academy, we also had other types of vacations. It was not from here to luxury in Jamaica. It was not that we were less happy or did not go out that much. You know, then you find the free concerts in the parks and whatever. You’ll get through it if it is a 3-5 year period. Life is long.

Nina: And another important point is also that you had a partner who supported you in realizing your dream.

René: Oh yes, from the beginning.

Nina: Yes, so when you go out and find a partner you wish to share your life with, it should also be a person who is as risk-taking as you? Or willing to take risks with you.

René: Yes! And I would do the same you know. If my girlfriend wants to quit her job one day to start a small bakery or something else.

Nina: Yes and maybe even more cause you really know the value of doing what you love.

René: Yes, and because I see friends who live in great houses, with nice cars in the driveway and they are not all happy. They are just waiting to get retired.

Nina: So they can begin to enjoy life?

René: Yeah!

Nina: And hopefully then also with a good health, cause we don’t know how many years we’ve got!

René: You never know. Even though we do get older and older. And you know it is not that it is easier to sit here after I have succeeded. I would do it anyway. My dad had 5 or 6 stores where he sold radios and tv’s.

Nina: So an entrepreneur.

René: Yeah, he called himself an old-fashioned Kaufman.

I knew that the day would come, where he would call my brother and me to the dining table to offer us a part in the firm. I worked there after school since I was 16. But now it was really to become part of the company and eventually take it over. I knew I would say no, when he would ask.

The day came and we were sitting down and I knew exactly what was about to happen. He would introduce the idea and say that he had talked to the lawyers and all that about how we could get into the firm and take it over within five to ten years or whatever. And I was just so clear after he was done with his “speech” and I had to say: “thank you, but it is a no-thanks”.

Nina: How did he react to that?

Painting by René Holm.

René: Hmmmm, well probably you could see that there was disappointment in his eyes, but today he is SO pleased that I did not do it, because the competition in that business really exploded after five years.

Nina: And that would have been around the same time as you were to take it over.

René: Really! Not that I knew back then, but I have other friends who took over parents’ firms and I can just see that it is an issue. Even though the parents are now over 70, and some almost 80. They are still part of the firm although they have retired, cause the firm is like their kid. You will always be concerned about your kids, no matter how old you get. You know my mother will still say: “Drive safely” if I am driving to Berlin. When we go skiing, she will say: “Don’t go off-piste” and all that. I am like: “Mum, I am not 16!” haha….

Maybe they (the companies) have a hard time after some years and their parents have to invest money into the company again, because it will always be their company. Then they have some disagreements about how to run it. You know, I am SO happy that I did not do it. No matter what, even if I could have made tons of money and have had a company car back then, and I was only 20.

Nina: This was also very brave, to dare to say “no”, cause so many of us are afraid of disappointing our parents.

René: Yeah, most would probably say “yes” just to make their parents happy.

Nina: Exactly. Earlier we also talked a bit about when you have to choose which education to take as a young teenager, most of us don’t even know what we want to be. Today the young people have to make big decisions about their future early on and how can they possibly know what is the right thing for them, when many of them have not even tried what is “out there”. Or, don’t even know what their passion is, cause they have not had a proper chance to discover and develop it. It I such a pressure, and I really feel for all these kids and youngsters, who have to make these decisions and also in such a stressful environment.

René: Yes, and so early! That is what I can see with my kids. They are asked in school: “if you go to college, what direction do you want to go? What do you want to do after school?” “Well I don’t know! I have no idea” “Well, what do you like?” “I like this and that”….

I always tell my kids and I probably did so more than 200 times: “you have to make a choice in school or college about which direction to go in. This not necessarily what you want to do in five or ten years from now”. And then I say: “Look at all our friends and all the homes that we come in. This guy is a banker, this guy is buying and selling properties, this guy is living in Spain and doing that and that… What they are doing today was not what they were doing 30 years ago. It was not part of their plan. This guy who is building and selling properties used to be a lawyer. This other guy was in his dad’s company and got stress and now he is doing whatever.

Nina: So the choice you make is not a final one. Life is all about change.

René: And you know, I am a good example too…haha. So me and my girlfriend…cause we are not married but we are still parents, we never talk about you HAVE to do this or HAVE to do that. Well, you have to go to school every day and do your best at school, but we don’t expect you to come home with top grades. Just do your best. Do your homework. Be prepared when you go to school. And then life will work itself out.

Nina: They are definitely lucky to have such open-minded parents like you and your girlfriend seem to be. The support from home is so important.

Painting by René Holm

René: Yeah, cause I have examples. Most of our friends are the same age as us and so are our kids, plus minus five years. I know kids, who are almost afraid of coming home with a B and not an A+ and you know the parents expect that they get A+.

Nina: Wow, that is quite a pressure to put on your kids.

René: And I think it is really stupid and I don’t think anything good comes out of that.

Nina: No. Of course it is nice that you teach them that they have to do something to achieve things in life. If you don’t get the best grade it does not matter, as long as you did your best.

René: Exactly! That is all you can do.

Nina: In general, you cannot be the best at everything in life, so why expect you to be that in all subjects in school?

Rene’: Yes, and don’t put yourself under too much pressure when you are young, cause it will definitely come later, when you are grown up anyway.

Nina: These are some very important topics we are touching upon, although they are not directly related to your art.

René: No, but you know, every day life is part of my work. I get my inspiration from every day life.

Nina: So, what are you working on right now?

René: Right now I am working on paintings for an exhibition in Copenhagen. The good thing about this gallery is that it is not huge, so I don’t have to do like 15 paintings.

Nina: This of course helps…

René: That helps a lot…haha. So I could come with three very large paintings and actually take up the whole space. Or I could do 20 small paintings or five midsize.

Nina: Where in Copenhagen is this?

René: It is Gallery Benoni in downtown Copenhagen.

Nina: And that is in November?

René: Yes, November.

Nina: But all this information people can find on your website, which I link to at the end of this blog.

René: The same gallery will also show three of my Darkness paintings from my recent museum show in Szczecin in Poland.

Nina: Which I have been very lucky to see as they are right here now in your flat in Berlin.

René: Yes they are. They have been around those paintings. They came from my studio in Denmark to Szczecin in Poland and then I had the chance to show them here in Berlin for a five day show. Then I was wondering if I should do that or not, cause it is a lot of transport and packing, but I decided to do it. Now half of them are being delivered in Copenhagen today.

Nina: And hopefully they will end up in a home somewhere?

René: Well, one of them will be delivered to a private home today. A new and amazing penthouse flat, at the harbor in Copenhagen. Another two of them are reserved, so the customers are coming on Saturday to see them at Gallery Benoni in Copenhagen. I am excited to hear what happens. This is what happens every time I do a series of paintings. I have been so lucky that I sold a few of the paintings before I actually show them.

Nina: So people buy them before they have seen them?

René: No no, they are allowed to come to the studio to see them and then they say: “can we buy that one”…”can we have it now” and I am like: “No, you can have it in 10 months”.

Nina: So after the exhibitions?

René: Yes, so the one that is being delivered today they saw in August last year I think.

Nina: So they have been patiently waiting. “Don’t put sticky fingers on it in the gallery please!”

René: Haha…I have tried many times that people want to buy something that I have in the studio before it is publicly shown. I had a guy who waited for 4 years cause I was doing a paper show from clippings from all the free magazines you could get from around the world, with art and fashion. I always collect them every time I travel. Sometimes I could find a picture of something. Then 4 years ago I was reading in my magazines again cause I have stacks of them in my studio. Then I saw this great picture. It could be a model standing in a great environment. And I was like: “hmm it could be funny to paint on top of the page from the magazine”. So I ripped it out and I painted on top of the person. I thought: “this could do something”, cause the painting on top of the photo was kind of weird and mysterious. Then I put it aside and over the next 4 years I did one hundred.

René Holm exhibiting some of his paintings from the Darkness Series in Poland.

There was one guy who came to see me in the studio and he was like: “So what is this?” and said: “Well it is a project and I don’t know where I will show it and I don’t know when.”. Then he answered: “Oh, can I see them?”…. “Yeah. Sure” I said, and then he picked out four he wanted to buy. I called him up like 3 ½ years later and said: “Do you still want them? I see your name on the back of them”. He said: “Oh, you are finally done?”

You see for me they had to be part of the show. I could have easily taken them out. Nobody would miss them at the show cause there were so many.

Nina: But you knew that they were a part of a bigger “picture”.

René: Yeah and it is like with the Darkness painting. I could also just have given them the painting back in August last year, but for me it would be missing in the series. You also don’t just rip out pages from a book. My pictures work together and they talk together and they are about the same theme. But I also know that when it is done they will be split.

Nina: Your little family will be split up and sent around the world.

René: Yeah, but that is fine, cause then they will get their own life in a new environment. They have to be strong on their own.

Nina: It is exactly like raising kids!

René: It is.

Nina: A very beautiful way of describing parenthood.

René: Yeah you know your parents are not always around. It is like sending your kids to school for the first time. The first time they walk to school you are like: “Please do as we practiced the last three months”, you know. And the first time they have to ride their bike to school, that is not the day you want to hear the sirens five minutes later…haha.

Nina: This is all about letting go. It is a big topic both in parenting and in art. You have to be able to let go of your art and then comes the question…when is it finished and ready to be shown.

Photo of René Holm’s studio in Denmark

René: I think all artists, be it writers, musicians, dancers or painters can keep on adding something to their work. But there probably comes a certain time where you have to come up with say a new album. You know you have a deal with a record label. Or if you have to paint paintings for a show. I know the date for my next show. Of course I can call up and say: “ You know, it is all fucked up and I can’t do anything”.  But I will produce something for the show. I would rather come with four paintings than 10 paintings where six of them are not ready. So you know, the more success you get, the quicker you have to decide when something is done.

Nina: Cause you have more demand?

René: Yeah, and you have less time.

Nina: But, what about you? Now you have a name, but what about performance pressure? How do you deal with expectations from people who know you deliver a certain quality and type of work? How is it for you to exhibit your “darlings”? Is there a bit of fear even though you have done this so many times?

René: Fear not. But you are always a little bit nervous, cause when you take them out of your studio, then you say it is done. It is almost like a naked feeling. You cannot “take them back” once they are “out there” and say: “this is not done, I am taking it back to the studio”.

I remember the first time I had my really big solo exhibition in Denmark. I sold everything…they say… within 35mins.

Nina: Your first solo exhibition and you sell everything so fast. That is quite something.

René: I had shown at a few fairs and I had been part of some group exhibitions and I could see that the interest was really coming over a year. Then I had the solo show and my girlfriend was also there and people were coming up to her asking her: “what can we buy?”. I never experienced anything like it before and it will only happen a few times in an artist’s life. Then there was a great article on the news, like a whole page, and it ended with the words along these lines: “I am really looking forward to see what he is doing next time”. I am like: “doing next time?”…. Well I could copy the ones I just did, but this was the first time I really felt…oh, there is a next time.

Nina: Yes, and there is an expectation now!

René: Yes, there is REALLY an expectation and there were maybe 30 or 40 people who wanted to buy a painting but everything was sold.

Nina: So how was it when you did your next show? Did you feel more pressure or did you just think…”this is my art, this is me, so take it or leave it”?

René: See, the way it works for me is to do a series over a theme that I really go into. Then I do a series of work and I don’t know if I will do 10 or 25 paintings. Then I will find a new theme, cause this gives me the urge to keep coming into the studio every day and not just copy myself. The guy who owned the gallery from back then said: “Well you have to go back and do another 30 of these paintings.

Nina: Of THESE, so the same style?

René: Yes, the same style and the same theme.

Nina: Cause that is what people want.

René: Yes, cause he saw money and I was like: “yeah yeah, sure, I’ll do it” cause this was many years ago. Then I came back to the studio the Monday after a great night at the studio with wine and all that. I still couldn’t figure out what was going on and I had many galleries calling me up who wanted to work with me. So there I was in the studio and took out the first canvas and I was like: “no, I can’t do it”. Cause, when I was doing the last picture in the last series of paintings I had just sold, that was because I felt that it was a final picture of that story.

Then I had a show a year after at another gallery and that was quite a funny experience. I did a show about refugees coming to Denmark.

I called up some Red Cross Centers, where they live for a time, while they hope to get into this fairy tale country called Denmark. I was allowed to speak to 25 families and hear there stories and visit them in the small homes they were provided with at that time. We drank really sweet sodas and really sweet cake from the Middle and Far East and then I did the show called “Strangers”.

Nina: Can we see those online?

René: I don’t know if they are still on my website?

Then I took pictures of them and then I placed in the environment that I thought was important back at that time. And you could see that they were from the Middle East from the men’s beards and the women’s clothing. And you know there was really some expectations for this show, which was one year after the first one where everything was sold. The Gallerist was like: “Hey, we have people coming, who want to buy something and they have not seen anything in a year” and then the opening came.

Actually the paintings had the same style you know with the brushstrokes. There was just something different going on in the paintings, which was very easy to see. And ehm… there were definitely some people who were afraid to have the darkness in their rooms. You know people came in their nice cars and the women in their furs and they did not say it, but you could definitely feel how they were thinking: We are not gonna have Muhammed….

Nina: In our room…

René: In our Hall, which you enter after having passed our Mercedes and the designer chairs. People might go: “Do you support them!?”

Nina: Do you really feel this was the attitude?

René Holm´s studio in Denmark

René: You could definitely feel it! Ehh, and that was a great experience for me. You know, going to the Red Cross Center to visit those people. Doing the paintings. And normally when I open a show as I told you, I can only stand and get good or bad feedback. But this was really a good experience.

Nina: Did you sell some of your paintings?

René: Yeah, I sold some. But people also expected that I was not gonna do the same work as last time. You know I have a lot of people who follow my work and I have some who have bought five or six paintings and they say: “It is easy to see that you did the paintings, but they are all different. They are either from the homeless or the shelter or the series from China. They all have their own story, but it is hard to find new themes and subjects.

Nina: Yeah, you have to be out there and part of all areas of life.

René: That is probably why, when we travel, I always bring my family to the shit hole in the town. I went to India on my own, cause my girlfriend was like: “I don’t want to go to India, it is too dirty and too poor. It is just too bad.”

Nina: And what was it like?

René: For me it was amazing! You know the smells, the crowds, the noise. It was a great experience. I did some volunteer work for a project called Little Big Help with a Danish girl, who runs three homes in Calcutta and outside Calcutta, for homeless kids. You know I thought I would come out and get inspiration from the Kids, but they were just part of it cause it ended up being you know, the whole street life.

Nina: Did you make paintings from it?

René Holm painting from the series “Good Luck”

René: Yeah, I did a series called Good Luck.

Nina: It is so cold to hear what lies behind your picture…the background. It makes the pictures tell such a different story.

René: That is also why I have somebody writing a introduction for each show and for the catalogue. The text is not about one painting, but all of them. Especially when you have kids it is a very emotional trip to go to a place like that (Orphanage in Calcutta). I think cried every day out there. Then she asked me before I came if I would paint something out there and I was like: “Sure”, but I had no idea what I was going to see or what to expect before I got out there. So the first home was for kids at the age of six or seven and up to 18. They learn to write and read English. Go properly to the bathroom and they get three meals every day and wash them selves.

Nina: So for us very basic things.

René: Yeah, very basic. And I came to the home and I was in the very VERY poor area of Calcutta. In the early 1900 century they called Calcutta Paris of Asia. Now they call it the Shithole of Asia and it is SO poor. You have more than 300.000 kids living on the street. What they do is that they beg but they also live around the main railroad station. They collect plastic bottles and when they have 10 they can sell them and get enough money to buy a tube of glue.

Nina: And they sniff the glue?

René: They sniff the glue through a cloth. So, they try to find the best kids. The kids that are not totally addicted to glue yet.

René Holm painting from the series “Good Luck”

Then we came to the school and it was like a 3 stories building and on the top they had a roof top. I went up there and it was all dirty cause of the humidity. Some of the guys were playing a bit of soccer. They had a net-like-thing and all the buildings are really close to each other and the buildings around their building were taller.

Nina: So there was also no light?

René: Well, that is probably good in that area cause it is so warm. But the thing I noticed was that kids were hanging out of the windows of other buildings and looking down at those kids playing football. Like, they were just standing in the windows and they all know that these are the homeless kids and you also have those caste systems in India.

Nina: Ahh, so they are the lowest caste.

Renè: Yes, really! So I thought, we have to do like a really cool soccer stadium up here! So we cleaned up everything. Then we bought some paint and I was painting everything green and with white lines and circles and goals and the whole staircase up to the roof, too. Then I wrote “Litte Big Help Soccer Stadium”. Then we had the opening for the kids and that was just like the best evening ever. It was a great gift and I noticed that all the other kids that lived in the buildings surrounding the soccer stadium thought that this was cool. And the homeless kids noticed that, too! So they felt like “now we have something that they don’t have”.

I know this guy who sells sports clothes and equipment, so when I got home I went out to him and said: “Anders, we have to get 15 sets of gear with socks, shorts, t-shirts and print Little Big Help on them”. He said: “Sure” and then we sent it out to them and I got this photo from them where they were standing like a real soccer team.

Nina: Feeling proud, maybe for the first time?

René Holm painting from the series “Good Luck”

René: Super proud. So that was a great trip even though I got sick for 11 months after that.

Nina: 11 months! Wow.

René: Yeah, I really went to India and got something we can all have for a few days, but this just lasted longer.

Nina: So a bacteria?

René: Yeah

Nina: But a beautiful story!

René: Yeah, it was a very good experience.

Nina: It puts things into perspective and I like that you take your kids and show them the more dirty and dark sides of life. Hopefully, that makes you appreciate what you have got more.

René: Well, you forget it very fast and you get back to your normal life right away. But I remember the first two weeks after my trip to India, my kids should not argue in the kitchen over who took the last piece of bread or why their iPad is not charged. I would say something like: “You are REALLY lucky and there is plenty of food. Maybe not what you wish for right now, but then there is something else you can eat or drink”. So, yes it would definitely be a good experience for all kids to see a place like that.

Nina: Yes. So once more getting back to our topic “darkness”, you have to see the dark to appreciate the light.

René: For sure, but you should not go around every day and say: “I am so lucky I am alive and I should appreciate this and that”. But once in a while it is good to…..(René pauses)

Nina: Move out of your comfort zone?

René’s painters shoes

René: Yeah, and you know see things that make you think about that you are lucky. That you are lucky that you can try to live your dream, which other people cannot! They don’t even have the chance to even try to be a musician or an artist. Even though you will struggle, you will still have a place to live and probably still be able to get food every day.

Nina: And medical help if you need it.

René: For some people in big parts of the world like in India or Africa, they would never ever have the chance.

Nina: Yes, we are lucky. We are born under a shining star although many of us fail to see it. We get lost in the small problems of “the little mind”.

René: Yeah, maybe cause we look at people who have something that we don’t have. A bigger apartment, a bigger boat and that brings us back to what we already talked about: Comparison! You will always see someone who has more money, longer legs, bigger boobs, bigger boats, a more crazy life. My kids are watching a young Swedish couple right now on Youtube. It just seems like every day is amazing.

Nina: And then they dream of having a bit of that too or?

René: Well they compare. They are sailing, skiing, on a rooftop. Well this is maybe possible for a few years and you have to remember that they are actually filming everything.

Nina: Yes, you have another lifestyle, but everything is public.

René: Yeah….

Nina: Well, let me just see…I think we covered everything I wanted to talk to you about today….Oh wait, there is one more question: Do you have some advice for other artists that aspire to live of painting like yourself? Maybe one piece of advice you wish you had received back then?

René Holm’s Studio in Denmark

René: Ha! That is a good question. Well, it is definitely important to do what you want. If we talk about painting, then paint what you want. Don’t make art that other people want. Don’t make art just to please people. I would never do that. I know that my art pleases a lot of people, but as we talked about with the “Darkness” and “Strangers” series, you know that was definitely a series I did not do to please people.

I also think all artists show their work at places, which they might regret later if they get success. But that is something you could not know. That is like musicians who would play at a crappy venue just for the money.

Nina: Maybe like a wedding singer or something similar…but not the bigger stages haha.

René: And then of course it could be good to have a mentor from the very beginning. Well, there are definitely some things I wish that I had not done. But I had no one who could explain this to me or support me, since my parents are not into art. So in that sense I could not ask them about anything, cause they would just say anything is fine. Lets say that one of my kids would turn out to be an artist, you know I could definitely be a good mentor for them. Not regarding what they should do, but more what they should not do.

Nina: But although you say that there are things you should not do, you are here today and you have success.

René: Yeah, sure.

Nina: So even though we face challenges and may regret things, it is all part of the road to where you are now, right?

René: Yeah it is and you also have to accept that of course. Hmmm, but there are just some things in the art business that are….well, you know if you make a wrong step, you would never be invited to the real elite.

Nina: You mean in terms of art galleries?

René: Yeah.

Nina: So, as a painter you have to be a bit careful about where you exhibit things.

René: Yes.

Nina: This is interesting. That is definitely a good point if this characterizes the art business.

René: I would say don’t look at the space, but who you want to exhibit with. That would be my best advice. Instead of saying yes to an amazing space that shows “shit art”. There are really some bad galleries around haha!

Nina: So do your research basically. Don’t judge a book by the cover but go a bit further.

René: Yeah, and maybe don’t focus on economy as you make your decisions. It is easy for me to say, especially if you are in that moment where you really need the money and someone says: “well we can sell your stuff here” and you go…hmmm, this is really a shitty place…but…

Nina: Then your advice would be “don’t do it”.

René: Yeah!

Nina: Then find another way to make money until you find the right gallery to show your art?

René: Yeah, because there are some artists around, where you cannot point fingers at anything they have done. Even thought they were living in a shit hole, they were so honest towards their art and they were not taking any assignment that would take them away from the road they were trying to walk.

René Holm by Dino Mari

Nina: So be true to your gut feeling, when it comes to your art.

René: Yeah, cause when you succeed, no matter what you do in life, be it political or something else, people will “dig in your past”. Maybe not for an artist like me, but you can see just how much you found about me on the net. You know if you really spend time on it you can find newspaper articles that are 15 years old or more. Things I am not proud of. But as you say, it is part of my very long story.

Nina: But I guess that the most important thing in it all is that you can stand by your choices. So even if some people ask you why you made certain choices later on, then at least you can say you did what you felt was right at the time and that you felt it was good. I think it is more tricky when you go against that gut-feeling. Then you have to live with the: “oh, I knew I should not have done it, so WHY did I do it” feeling.

René: I did not know cause I had no one to tell me about it.

Nina: Thank you so much for your time René! It has been a very inspiring talk.

René: Thank you for having me and letting me talk.

Nina: And good luck with your next work! We will be following you closely.

René: Thank you.

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If you want to find out more about René Holm here are links to his website and social media:

Website  Facebook  Instagram

Coming exhibitions with René Holm in 2018:

Code Art Fair (DK) at Galeri Benoni (30th of Aug – 2nd of Sept),  Esbjerg Gymnasium (DK) presenting new work in glass and neon made for the school (Aug), Kühlhaus Berlin (DE) group exhibition during Berlin Art Week with Kurator Uwe Goldstein (Sept), Museum Frello (DK) Group Exhibition (Sept), Hygum Kunstmuseum (DK) group exhibition (Sept) Galeri Benoni (DK) Solo exhibition (Nov).

Smiles from me in Berlin to you, where ever you are!

Nina

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Pssssst……!!  If you enjoyed reading this interview, I am sure you will like my interview with Boney M singer Marcia Barrett about how her life before, during and after Boney M. You can fint it right here.

 

René Holm – A famous Danish Painter – Part 5

René Holm – A famous Danish Painter – Part 5
René Holm by Dino Mari

I have been lucky to meet up with René Holm, a successful Danish painter. We talked about how he realized his dream. His childhood. Turning down his dad’s offer to take over the family business. Daring to take risks and leaving your comfort zone. How important it is to have the right partner in life, who supports you. How graffiti influenced his life.

We talk about why he thinks iPads and iPhones are putting a lid on kids creativity. Why he does not believe in the “Happy” and “Perfect” Danish life. We talk about the internet and the challenge comparison and living “online” poses to parenting today. We naturally also talk a lot about his art. The symbolism in it. Where he gets his inspiration from. Why he likes to paint the “darkness”. In this final part of the interview René shares a heartfelt and warm experience he had when he visited an Orphanage run by “Little Big Help” in India and how his very special gift to them ended up impacting the children. Finally René shares some valuable advice for other aspiring painters who wish to live of painting. If you want to read it from the beginning, you can find Part 1 here.

(Find links to Renés website and social media below.)

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René and I are talking about how his visit to an Orphanage in India had a very big and emotional impact on him. He painted the series “Good luck” about the experience, but also ended up giving the Children of “Little Big Help Orphanage” a very special gift. The last few questions are “re posted” so you can better follow the story.

René: That is probably why, when we travel, I always bring my family to the shit hole in the town. I went to India on my own, cause my girlfriend was like: “I don’t want to go to India, it is too dirty and too poor. It is just too bad.”

Nina: And what was it like?

René: For me it was amazing! You know the smells, the crowds, the noise. It was a great experience for me. I did some volunteer work for a project called Little Big Help with a Danish girl who runs three homes in Calcutta and outside Calcutta, for homeless kids. You know I thought I would come out and get inspiration from the Kids, but they were just part of it cause it ended up being you know, the whole street life.

Nina: Did you make paintings from it?

René Holm painting from the series “Good Luck”

René: Yeah, I did a series called Good Luck.

Nina: It is so cold to hear what lies behind your picture…the background. It makes the pictures tell such a different story.

René: That is also why I have somebody writing a introduction for each show and for the catalogue. The text is not about one painting, but all of them. Especially when you have kids it is a very emotional trip to go to a place like that (Orphanage in Calcutta). I think cried every day out there. Then she asked me before I came if I would paint something out there and I was like: “Sure”, but I had no idea what I was going to see or what to expect before I got out there. So the first home was for kids at the age of six or seven and up to 18. They learn to write and read English. Go properly to the bathroom and they get three meals every day and wash them selves.

Nina: So for us very basic things.

René: Yeah, very basic. And I came to the home and I was in the very VERY poor area of Calcutta. In the early 1900 century they called Calcutta Paris of Asia. Now they call it the Shithole of Asia and it is SO poor. You have more than 300.000 kids living on the street. What they do is that they beg but they also live around the main railroad station. They collect plastic bottles and when they have 10 they can sell them and get enough money to buy a tube of glue.

Nina: And they sniff the glue?

René: They sniff the glue through a cloth. So, they try to find the best kids. The kids that are not totally addicted to glue yet.

René Holm painting from the series “Good Luck”

Then we came to the school and it was like a 3 stories building and on the top they had a roof top. I went up there and it was all dirty cause of the humidity. Some of the guys were playing a bit of soccer. They had a net-like-thing and all the buildings are really close to each other and the buildings around their building were taller.

Nina: So there was also no light?

René: Well, that is probably good in that area cause it is so warm. But the thing I noticed was that kids were hanging out of the windows of other buildings and looking down at those kids playing football. Like, they were just standing in the windows and they all know that these are the homeless kids and you also have those caste systems in India.

Nina: Ahh, so they are the lowest caste.

Renè: Yes, really! So I thought, we have to do like a really cool soccer stadium up here! So we cleaned up everything. Then we bought some paint and I was painting everything green and with white lines and circles and goals and the whole staircase up to the roof, too. Then I wrote “Litte Big Help Soccer Stadium”. Then we had the opening for the kids and that was just like the best evening ever. It was a great gift and I noticed that all the other kids that lived in the buildings surrounding the soccer stadium thought that this was cool. And the homeless kids noticed that, too! So they felt like “now we have something that they don’t have”.

I know this guy who sells sports clothes and equipment, so when I got home I went out to him and said: “Anders, we have to get 15 sets of gear with socks, shorts, t-shirts and print Little Big Help on them”. He said: “Sure” and then we sent it out to them and I got this photo from them where they were standing like a real soccer team.

Nina: Feeling proud, maybe for the first time?

René Holm painting from the series “Good Luck”

René: Super proud. So that was a great trip even though I got sick for 11 months after that.

Nina: 11 months! Wow.

René: Yeah, I really went to India and got something we can all have for a few days, but this just lasted longer.

Nina: So a bacteria?

René: Yeah

Nina: But a beautiful story!

René: Yeah, it was a very good experience.

Nina: It puts things into perspective and I like that you take your kids and show them the more dirty and dark sides of life. Hopefully, that makes you appreciate what you have got more.

René: Well, you forget it very fast and you get back to your normal life right away. But I remember the first two weeks after my trip to India, my kids should not argue in the kitchen over who took the last piece of bread or why their iPad is not charged. I would say something like: “You are REALLY lucky and there is plenty of food. Maybe not what you wish for right now, but then there is something else you can eat or drink”. So, yes it would definitely be a good experience for all kids to see a place like that.

Nina: Yes. So once more getting back to our topic “darkness”, you have to see the dark to appreciate the light.

René: For sure, but you should not go around every day and say: “I am so lucky I am alive and I should appreciate this and that”. But once in a while it is good to…..(René pauses)

Nina: Move out of your comfort zone?

René’s painters shoes

René: Yeah, and you know see things that make you think about that you are lucky. That you are lucky that you can try to live your dream, which other people cannot! They don’t even have the chance to even try to be a musician or an artist. Even though you will struggle, you will still have a place to live and probably still be able to get food every day.

Nina: And medical help if you need it.

René: For some people in big parts of the world like in India or Africa, they would never ever have the chance.

Nina: Yes, we are lucky. We are born under a shining star although many of us fail to see it. We get lost in the small problems of “the little mind”.

René: Yeah, maybe cause we look at people who have something that we don’t have. A bigger apartment, a bigger boat and that brings us back to what we already talked about: Comparison! You will always see someone who has more money, longer legs, bigger boobs, bigger boats, a more crazy life. My kids are watching a young Swedish couple right now on Youtube. It just seems like every day is amazing.

Nina: And then they dream of having a bit of that too or?

René: Well they compare. They are sailing, skiing, on a rooftop. Well this is maybe possible for a few years and you have to remember that they are actually filming everything.

Nina: Yes, you have another lifestyle, but everything is public.

René: Yeah….

Nina: Well, let me just see…I think we covered everything I wanted to talk to you about today….Oh wait, there is one more question: Do you have some advice for other artists that aspire to live of painting like yourself? Maybe one piece of advice you wish you had received back then?

René Holm’s Studio in Denmark

René: Ha! That is a good question. Well, it is definitely important to do what you want. If we talk about painting, then paint what you want. Don’t make art that other people want. Don’t make art just to please people. I would never do that. I know that my art pleases a lot of people, but as we talked about with the “Darkness” and “Strangers” series, you know that was definitely a series I did not do to please people.

I also think all artists show their work at places, which they might regret later if they get success. But that is something you could not know. That is like musicians who would play at a crappy venue just for the money.

Nina: Maybe like a wedding singer or something similar…but not the bigger stages haha.

René: And then of course it could be good to have a mentor from the very beginning. Well, there are definitely some things I wish that I had not done. But I had no one who could explain this to me or support me, since my parents are not into art. So in that sense I could not ask them about anything, cause they would just say anything is fine. Lets say that one of my kids would turn out to be an artist, you know I could definitely be a good mentor for them. Not regarding what they should do, but more what they should not do.

Nina: But although you say that there are things you should not do, you are here today and you have success.

René: Yeah, sure.

Nina: So even though we face challenges and may regret things, it is all part of the road to where you are now, right?

René: Yeah it is and you also have to accept that of course. Hmmm, but there is just some things in the art business that are….well, you know if you make a wrong step, you would never be invited to the real elite.

Nina: You mean in terms of art galleries?

René: Yeah.

Nina: So, as a painter you have to be a bit careful about where you exhibit things.

René: Yes.

Nina: This is interesting. That is definitely a good point if this characterizes the art business.

René: I would say don’t look at the space, but who you want to exhibit with. That would be my best advice. Instead of saying yes to an amazing space that shows “shit art”. There are really some bad galleries around haha!

Nina: So do your research basically. Don’t judge a book by the cover but go a bit further.

René: Yeah, and maybe don’t focus on economy as you make your decisions. It is easy for me to say, especially if you are in that moment where you really need the money and someone says: “well we can sell your stuff here” and you go…hmmm, this is really a shitty place…but…

Nina: Then your advice would be “don’t do it”.

René: Yeah!

Nina: Then find another way to make money until you find the right gallery to show your art?

René: Yeah, because there are some artists around, where you cannot point fingers at anything they have done. Even thought they were living in a shit hole, they were so honest towards their art and they were not taking any assignment that would take them away from the road they were trying to walk.

René Holm by Dino Mari

Nina: So be true to your gut feeling, when it comes to your art.

René: Yeah, cause when you succeed, no matter what you do in life, be it political or something else, people will “dig in your past”. Maybe not for an artist like me, but you can see just how much you found about me on the net. You know if you really spend time on it you can find newspaper articles that are 15 years old or more. Things I am not proud of. But as you say, it is part of my very long story.

Nina: But I guess that the most important thing in it all is that you can stand by your choices. So even if some people ask you why you made certain choices later on, then at least you can say you did what you felt was right at the time and that you felt it was good. I think it is more tricky when you go against that gut-feeling. Then you have to live with the: “oh, I knew I should not have done it, so WHY did I do it” feeling.

René: I did not know cause I had no one to tell me about it.

Nina: Thank you so much for your time René! It has been a very inspiring talk.

René: Thank you for having me and letting me talk.

Nina: And good luck with your next work! We will be following you closely.

René: Thank you.

If you want to find out more about René Holm here are links to his website and social media:

Website  Facebook  Instagram

Coming exhibitions with René Holm in 2018:

Code Art Fair (DK) at Galeri Benoni (30th of Aug – 2nd of Sept),  Esbjerg Gymnasium (DK) presenting new work in glass and neon made for the school (Aug), Kühlhaus Berlin (DE) group exhibition during Berlin Art Week with Kurator Uwe Goldstein (Sept), Museum Frello (DK) Group Exhibition (Sept), Hygum Kunstmuseum (DK) group exhibition (Sept) Galeri Benoni (DK) Solo exhibition (Nov).

Smiles from me in Berlin to you, where ever you are!

Nina

Pssssst……!!  If you enjoyed reading this interview, I am sure you will like my interview with Boney M singer Marcia Barrett about how her life before, during and after Boney M. You can fint it right here.

René Holm – A famous Danish painter – Part 4

René Holm – A famous Danish painter – Part 4
René Holm by Dino Mari

What is it like to live out your dream and live well of it? This month I have interviewed the Famous Danish painter René Holm. We talk about his childhood, his road to success as a painter, turning down his dad’s offer to take over the family business, quitting a well-paid job to follow his dream on zero income. The importance of being with the right partner when you change your career and venture into the unknown. Daring to take risks. We talk about his art and where he gets his inspiration from. Why does he like to paint the darkness? Why does he see “screens” such as iPhones and iPads as a potential block to small kids creativity?

In this 4th part of the Interview, we dig deeper into the process of creating his paintings. René Holm sold everything at his first solo show and how did he feel when getting ready to do his next series of paintings? Did he feel blocked by performance pressure? What was his reaction when a gallery owner saw money and said: “Can you paint 30 paintings like this, cause we have buyers?”. If you want to read this inspiring interview from the beginning, then read Part 1 right here.

René: Right now I am working on paintings for an exhibition in Copenhagen. The good thing about this gallery is that it is not huge, so I don’t have to do like 15 paintings.

Nina: This of course helps…

René: That helps a lot…haha. So I could come with three very large paintings and actually take up the whole space. Or I could do 20 small paintings or five midsize.

Nina: Where in Copenhagen is this?

René: It is Gallery Benoni in downtown Copenhagen.

Nina: And that is in November?

René: Yes, November.

Nina: But all this information people can find on your website, which I link to at the end of this blog.

René: The same gallery will also show three of my Darkness paintings from my recent museum show in Szczecin in Poland.

Nina: Which I have been very lucky to see as they are right here now in your flat in Berlin.

René: Yes they are. They have been around those paintings. They came from my studio in Denmark to Szczecin in Poland and then I had the chance to show them here in Berlin for a five day show. Then I was wondering if I should do that or not, cause it is a lot of transport and packing, but I decided to do it. Now half of them are being delivered in Copenhagen today.

Nina: And hopefully they will end up in a home somewhere?

René: Well, one of them will be delivered to a private home today. A new and amazing penthouse flat, at the harbor in Copenhagen. Another two of them are reserved, so the customers are coming on Saturday to see them at Gallery Benoni in Copenhagen. I am excited to hear what happens. This is what happens every time I do a series of paintings. I have been so lucky that I sold a few of the paintings before I actually show them.

Nina: So people buy them before they have seen them?

René: No no, they are allowed to come to the studio to see them and then they say: “can we buy that one”…”can we have it now” and I am like: “No, you can have it in 10 months”.

Nina: So after the exhibitions?

René: Yes, so the one that is being delivered today they saw in August last year I think.

Nina: So they have been patiently waiting. “Don’t put sticky fingers on it in the gallery please!”

René: Haha…I have tried many times that people want to buy something that I have in the studio before it is publicly shown. I had a guy who waited for 4 years cause I was doing a paper show from clippings from all the free magazines you could get from around the world, with art and fashion. I always collect them every time I travel. Sometimes I could find a picture of something. Then 4 years ago I was reading in my magazines again cause I have stacks of them in my studio. Then I saw this great picture. It could be a model standing in a great environment. And I was like: “hmm it could be funny to paint on top of the page from the magazine”. So I ripped it out and I painted on top of the person. I thought: “this could do something”, cause the painting on top of the photo was kind of weird and mysterious. Then I put it aside and over the next 4 years I did one hundred.

René Holm exhibiting some of his paintings from the Darkness Series in Poland.

There was one guy who came to see me in the studio and he was like: “So what is this?” and said: “Well it is a project and I don’t know where I will show it and I don’t know when.”. Then he answered: “Oh, can I see them?”…. “Yeah. Sure” I said, and then he picked out four he wanted to buy. I called him up like 3 ½ years later and said: “Do you still want them? I see your name on the back of them”. He said: “Oh, you are finally done?”

You see for me they had to be part of the show. I could have easily taken them out. Nobody would miss them at the show cause there were so many.

Nina: But you knew that they were a part of a bigger “picture”.

René: Yeah and it is like with the Darkness painting. I could also just have given them the painting back in August last year, but for me it would be missing in the series. You also don’t just rip out pages from a book. My pictures work together and they talk together and they are about the same theme. But I also know that when it is done they will be split.

Nina: Your little family will be split up and sent around the world.

René: Yeah, but that is fine, cause then they will get their own life in a new environment. They have to be strong on their own.

Nina: It is exactly like raising kids!

René: It is.

Nina: A very beautiful way of describing parenthood.

René: Yeah you know your parents are not always around. It is like sending your kids to school for the first time. The first time they walk to school you are like: “Please do as we practiced the last three months”, you know. And the first time they have to ride their bike to school, that is not the day you want to hear the sirens five minutes later…haha.

Nina: This is all about letting go. It is a big topic both in parenting and in art. You have to be able to let go of your art and then comes the question…when is it finished and ready to be shown.

Photo of René Holm’s studio in Denmark

René: I think all artists, be it writers, musicians, dancers or painters can keep on adding something to their work. But there probably comes a certain time where you have to come up with say a new album. You know you have a deal with a record label. Or if you have to paint paintings for a show. I know the date for my next show. Of course I can call up and say: “ You know, it is all fucked up and I can’t do anything”.  But I will produce something for the show. I would rather come with four paintings than 10 paintings where six of them are not ready. So you know, the more success you get, the quicker you have to decide when something is done.

Nina: Cause you have more demand?

René: Yeah, and you have less time.

Nina: But, what about you? Now you have a name, but what about performance pressure? How do you deal with expectations from people who know you deliver a certain quality and type of work? How is it for you to exhibit your “darlings”? Is there a bit of fear even though you have done this so many times?

René: Fear not. But you are always a little bit nervous, cause when you take them out of your studio, then you say it is done. It is almost like a naked feeling. You cannot “take them back” once they are “out there” and say: “this is not done, I am taking it back to the studio”.

I remember the first time I had my really big solo exhibition in Denmark. I sold everything…they say… within 35mins.

Nina: Your first solo exhibition and you sell everything so fast. That is quite something.

René: I had shown at a few fairs and I had been part of some group exhibitions and I could see that the interest was really coming over a year. Then I had the solo show and my girlfriend was also there and people were coming up to her asking her: “what can we buy?”. I never experienced anything like it before and it will only happen a few times in an artist’s life. Then there was a great article on the news, like a whole page, and it ended with the words along these lines: “I am really looking forward to see what he is doing next time”. I am like: “doing next time?”…. Well I could copy the ones I just did, but this was the first time I really felt…oh, there is a next time.

Nina: Yes, and there is an expectation now!

René: Yes, there is REALLY an expectation and there were maybe 30 or 40 people who wanted to buy a painting but everything was sold.

Nina: So how was it when you did your next show? Did you feel more pressure or did you just think…”this is my art, this is me, so take it or leave it”?

René: See, the way it works for me is to do a series over a theme that I really go into. Then I do a series of work and I don’t know if I will do 10 or 25 paintings. Then I will find a new theme, cause this gives me the urge to keep coming into the studio every day and not just copy myself. The guy who owned the gallery from back then said: “Well you have to go back and do another 30 of these paintings.

Nina: Of THESE, so the same style?

René: Yes, the same style and the same theme.

Nina: Cause that is what people want.

René: Yes, cause he saw money and I was like: “yeah yeah, sure, I’ll do it” cause this was many years ago. Then I came back to the studio the Monday after a great night at the studio with wine and all that. I still couldn’t figure out what was going on and I had many galleries calling me up who wanted to work with me. So there I was in the studio and took out the first canvas and I was like: “no, I can’t do it”. Cause, when I was doing the last picture in the last series of paintings I had just sold, that was because I felt that it was a final picture of that story.

Then I had a show a year after at another gallery and that was quite a funny experience. I did a show about refugees coming to Denmark.

I called up some Red Cross Centers, where they live for a time, while they hope to get into this fairy tale country called Denmark. I was allowed to speak to 25 families and hear there stories and visit them in the small homes they were provided with at that time. We drank really sweet sodas and really sweet cake from the Middle and Far East and then I did the show called “Strangers”.

Nina: Can we see those online?

René: I don’t know if they are still on my website?

Then I took pictures of them and then I placed in the environment that I thought was important back at that time. And you could see that they were from the Middle East from the men’s beards and the women’s clothing. And you know there was really some expectations for this show, which was one year after the first one where everything was sold. The Gallerist was like: “Hey, we have people coming, who want to buy something and they have not seen anything in a year” and then the opening came.

Actually the paintings had the same style you know with the brushstrokes. There was just something different going on in the paintings, which was very easy to see. And ehm… there were definitely some people who were afraid to have the darkness in their rooms. You know people came in their nice cars and the women in their furs and they did not say it, but you could definitely feel how they were thinking: We are not gonna have Muhammed….

Nina: In our room…

René: In our Hall, which you enter after having passed our Mercedes and the designer chairs. People might go: “Do you support them!?”

Nina: Do you really feel this was the attitude?

René Holm´s studio in Denmark

René: You could definitely feel it! Ehh, and that was a great experience for me. You know, going to the Red Cross Center to visit those people. Doing the paintings. And normally when I open a show as I told you, I can only stand and get good or bad feedback. But this was really a good experience.

Nina: Did you sell some of your paintings?

René: Yeah, I sold some. But people also expected that I was not gonna do the same work as last time. You know I have a lot of people who follow my work and I have some who have bought five or six paintings and they say: “It is easy to see that you did the paintings, but they are all different. They are either from the homeless or the shelter or the series from China. They all have their own story, but it is hard to find new themes and subjects.

Nina: Yeah, you have to be out there and part of all areas of life.

René: That is probably why, when we travel, I always bring my family to the shit hole in the town. I went to India on my own, cause my girlfriend was like: “I don’t want to go to India, it is too dirty and too poor. It is just too bad.”

Nina: And what was it like?

René: For me it was amazing! You know the smells, the crowds, the noise. It was a great experience. I did some volunteer work for a project called Little Big Help with a Danish girl, who runs three homes in Calcutta and outside Calcutta, for homeless kids. You know I thought I would come out and get inspiration from the Kids, but they were just part of it cause it ended up being you know, the whole street life.

Nina: Did you make paintings from it?

René: Yeah, I did a series called Good Luck.

A picture from the Good Luck Series

Nina: It is so cool to hear what lies behind your pictures…the background story and the inspiration. It makes the pictures tell such a different story.

René: That is also why I have somebody write an introduction for each show and for the catalogue. The text is not about one painting, but all of them. Especially when you have kids it is a very emotional trip to go to a place like that (Orphanage in Calcutta). I think cried every day out there. Then she (the Danish girl at Little Big Help) asked me before I came if I would paint something out there and I was like: “Sure”, but I had no idea what I was going to see or what to expect before I got out there.

(To be continued)

In Part 5 René tells us more about his moving trip to the Orphanage in Calcutta and how his paint-project ended up transforming the lives of some of these Orphaned children in quite a beautiful and brilliant way. Find out how next week when the 5th part of my interview with René Holm is up. He also reveals what he wished he had known before he entered the scene as a professional painter. So, if you are an aspiring young painter, or know one, this advice could be just what you need to hear!

If you want to find out more about René Holm here are links to his website and social media:

Website  Facebook  Instagram

Coming exhibitions with René Holm in 2018:

Code Art Fair (DK) at Galeri Benoni (30th of Aug – 2nd of Sept),  Esbjerg Gymnasium (DK) presenting new work in glass and neon made for the school (Aug), Kühlhaus Berlin (DE) group exhibition during Berlin Art Week with Kurator Uwe Goldstein (Sept), Museum Frello (DK) Group Exhibition (Sept), Hygum Kunstmuseum (DK) group exhibition (Sept) Galeri Benoni (DK) Solo exhibition (Nov).

Smiles from Berlin,

Nina

René Holm – A famous Danish Painter – Part 3

René Holm – A famous Danish Painter – Part 3
René Holm by Dino Mari

This month I have been fortunate to meet up with René Holm, a famous Danish painter, who has a studio here in Berlin. We have talked about: his childhood; his values; his kids; challenges in parenting today; the impact iPhones and iPads have on kids and creativity; his career before he became a painter; sneaking out to do graffiti at night; where he gets inspiration for his art; why he loves the darkness; daring to be risk taking; that the perfect and happy Dane does not exist.

At the end of part 2, René and I are discussing when he quit his job to become a painter not knowing if he would succeed. Did you not read Part 1 yet? Then go ahead and enjoy this inspiring interview from the start by clicking HERE.

Nina: Wow, so you just quit your job?

René: I quit my job and back then our son Oliver was 2 years and 3 months old. SO I quit my job. My girlfriend quit her job. She was selling insurances. We sold out little house. Our first house. We packed everything down. Then we bought 17 open airplane tickets which we should use in a year. Then we bought one ticket to Bangkok. We did not go to Google earth and we did not book a room. We had not planned our next flight.

Nina: Wow, and this was with a little son of 2.

René: Yeah, so he had his little red suitcase that any kid had at that time and he was allowed to pack what he could fit into that, from his room full of “made in China” toys. That was all that he could bring. Then we traveled for 10 months and had an amazing trip. That was really an eye opener to what I was planning to come home with. We were traveling around using our savings. We made some money on the house we sold and we knew we were coming back within a year. We had some money left over for when we came back, so we could start on a fresh.

Nina: This is so important in my opinion, when you want to start something. One thing is to quit your job and say I am gonna try out my dream, but you still had some money saved up as a back-up. When I first wanted to do music, I also quit my job on a whim, and I did not have a backup of savings. So, I quickly began to freak out about where the money was gonna come from and this completely blocked my creative process. So for me that was the disastrous way, where as the way you did, well at least you did not have the same financial worry.

René: Well it was not a big concern, but still it was there for it was not millions we had at all. We knew that when we came home from our trip, we had to start on a fresh in a new home and my girlfriend needed to get a new job.

Nina: And you were gonna focus on your painting?

René: And I was starting on the academy of Art for five years with no income! So it was not like our economy was of no concern, cause I was going from a good salary to zero.

Nina: So your girlfriend became the breadwinner at that time?

René: Yes, cause she got her old job back. We talked about this earlier, that a lot of people might have thought: “why don’t we do that” when they saw what we did, but they were not brave enough to do it.

Nina: Yes it is most likely the fear of not being able to control the situation, while jumping into the unknown.

René: Yes and the thought about “what will happen when we come back”.

René with one of his paintings from the Darkness Exhibition. Photo by Dino Mari

Nina: You know, I think it is cause we are so wired for the negative side effects that could happen when you do something new. The focus is most often on what can go wrong and not what you can achieve and people go: “did you think about the consequences”? But just think about what you CAN achieve by changing your lifestyle and trying something new.

René: Of course there were some concerns from our parents. I was quitting a good job.

Nina: And being the farther of a very little one, too.

René: The place where I worked offered me to be partner of the company and actually to take it over within an amount of time.

Nina: And you said no?

René: I said no.

Nina: This also shows how much you really want to realize your dream of painting and that you have to be prepared to take risks.

René: Yes, and you only live once! All our friends thought it was great what we did.

Nina: So what would you then say if one of your kids came home and said: “Dad, I want to be a painter”.

René: “Good luck. Give it all you got and if it doesn’t work out, you can do something else. If you have this dream or if you think you have a talent in something creative, be it writing, singing or painting or all the other art forms, then you should give it a try. And then say to yourself: “I am gonna give it a try 100% for say…five years”. If everyday is a struggle about how to get get food and pay the bills, then after five years you must accept that now you can only do it part-time.

Nina: So then it is time to get a job and an income and do your art on the side.

René: And maybe that will succeed. You don’t know, but you should give it a shot.

Nina: Yes, cause if you are so creative as a person and you don’t use this talent, it is such a waste! I mean, one thing is if you can live of it or not, but if you completely shut it down to have say a full-time job, I do believe you shut down such a huge part of yourself at the same time, that you will very rarely feel complete happiness. You are not using a big part of yourself and what you need to express. So instead of “either or” maybe it just has to be a mix for a while.

René: Yes, and when I was going to the Academy, we also had other types of vacations. It was not from here to luxury in Jamaica. It was not that we were less happy or did not go out that much. You know, then you find the free concerts in the parks and whatever. You’ll get through it if it is a 3-5 year period. Life is long.

Nina: And another important point is also that you had a partner who supported you in realizing your dream.

René: Oh yes, from the beginning.

Nina: Yes, so when you go out and find a partner you wish to share your life with, it should also be a person who is as risk-taking as you? Or willing to take risks with you.

René: Yes! And I would do the same you know. If my girlfriend wants to quit her job one day to start a small bakery or something else.

Nina: Yes and maybe even more cause you really know the value of doing what you love.

René: Yes, and because I see friends who live in great houses, with nice cars in the driveway and they are not all happy. They are just waiting to get retired.

Nina: So they can begin to enjoy life?

René: Yeah!

Nina: And hopefully then also with a good health, cause we don’t know how many years we’ve got!

René: You never know. Even though we do get older and older. And you know it is not that it is easier to sit here after I have succeeded. I would do it anyway. My dad had 5 or 6 stores where he sold radios and tv’s.

Nina: So an entrepreneur.

René: Yeah, he called himself an old-fashioned Kaufman.

I knew that the day would come, where he would call my brother and me to the dining table to offer us a part in the firm. I worked there after school since I was 16. But now it was really to become part of the company and eventually take it over. I knew I would say no, when he would ask.

The day came and we were sitting down and I knew exactly what was about to happen. He would introduce the idea and say that he had talked to the lawyers and all that about how we could get into the firm and take it over within five to ten years or whatever. And I was just so clear after he was done with his “speech” and I had to say: “thank you, but it is a no-thanks”.

Nina: How did he react to that?

Painting by René Holm.

René: Hmmmm, well probably you could see that there was disappointment in his eyes, but today he is SO pleased that I did not do it, because the competition in that business really exploded after five years.

Nina: And that would have been around the same time as you were to take it over.

René: Really! Not that I knew back then, but I have other friends who took over parents’ firms and I can just see that it is an issue. Even though the parents are now over 70, and some almost 80. They are still part of the firm although they have retired, cause the firm is like their kid. You will always be concerned about your kids, no matter how old you get. You know my mother will still say: “Drive safely” if I am driving to Berlin. When we go skiing, she will say: “Don’t go off-piste” and all that. I am like: “Mum, I am not 16!” haha….

Maybe they (the companies) have a hard time after some years and their parents have to invest money into the company again, because it will always be their company. Then they have some disagreements about how to run it. You know, I am SO happy that I did not do it. No matter what, even if I could have made tons of money and have had a company car back then, and I was only 20.

Nina: This was also very brave, to dare to say “no”, cause so many of us are afraid of disappointing our parents.

René: Yeah, most would probably say “yes” just to make their parents happy.

Nina: Exactly. Earlier we also talked a bit about when you have to choose which education to take as a young teenager, most of us don’t even know what we want to be. Today the young people have to make big decisions about their future early on and how can they possibly know what is the right thing for them, when many of them have not even tried what is “out there”. Or, don’t even know what their passion is, cause they have not had a proper chance to discover and develop it. It I such a pressure, and I really feel for all these kids and youngsters, who have to make these decisions and also in such a stressful environment.

René: Yes, and so early! That is what I can see with my kids. They are asked in school: “if you go to college, what direction do you want to go? What do you want to do after school?” “Well I don’t know! I have no idea” “Well, what do you like?” “I like this and that”….

I always tell my kids and I probably did so more than 200 times: “you have to make a choice in school or college about which direction to go in. This not necessarily what you want to do in five or ten years from now”. And then I say: “Look at all our friends and all the homes that we come in. This guy is a banker, this guy is buying and selling properties, this guy is living in Spain and doing that and that… What they are doing today was not what they were doing 30 years ago. It was not part of their plan. This guy who is building and selling properties used to be a lawyer. This other guy was in his dad’s company and got stress and now he is doing whatever.

Nina: So the choice you make is not a final one. Life is all about change.

René: And you know, I am a good example too…haha. So me and my girlfriend…cause we are not married but we are still parents, we never talk about you HAVE to do this or HAVE to do that. Well, you have to go to school every day and do your best at school, but we don’t expect you to come home with top grades. Just do your best. Do your homework. Be prepared when you go to school. And then life will work itself out.

Nina: They are definitely lucky to have such open-minded parents like you and your girlfriend seem to be. The support from home is so important.

Painting by René Holm

René: Yeah, cause I have examples. Most of our friends are the same age as us and so are our kids, plus minus five years. I know kids, who are almost afraid of coming home with a B and not an A+ and you know the parents expect that they get A+.

Nina: Wow, that is quite a pressure to put on your kids.

René: And I think it is really stupid and I don’t think anything good comes out of that.

Nina: No. Of course it is nice that you teach them that they have to do something to achieve things in life. If you don’t get the best grade it does not matter, as long as you did your best.

René: Exactly! That is all you can do.

Nina: In general, you cannot be the best at everything in life, so why expect you to be that in all subjects in school?

Rene’: Yes, and don’t put yourself under too much pressure when you are young, cause it will definitely come later, when you are grown up anyway.

Nina: These are some very important topics we are touching upon, although they are not directly related to your art.

René: No, but you know, every day life is part of my work. I get my inspiration from every day life.

Nina: So, what are you working on right now?

(to be continued….)

In Part 4 René reveals more details from how he became a successful painter. He was lucky to sell everything at his first solo-exhibition. How did that affect him, when he had to paint for his next exhibition? Was it too much pressure? How does he feel when he reveals his paintings after being in “the game” for so many years? What is he working on right now? We also hear about his meeting with refugees that resulted in the series called “Strangers”. All this and more will be revealed this coming Thursday, so stay tuned!

If you want to find out more about René Holm here are links to his website and social media:

Website  Facebook  Instagram

Coming exhibitions with René Holm in 2018:

Code Art Fair (DK) at Galeri Benoni (30th of Aug – 2nd of Sept),  Esbjerg Gymnasium (DK) presenting new work in glass and neon made for the school (Aug), Kühlhaus Berlin (DE) group exhibition during Berlin Art Week with Kurator Uwe Goldstein (Sept), Museum Frello (DK) Group Exhibition (Sept), Hygum Kunstmuseum (DK) group exhibition (Sept) Galeri Benoni (DK) Solo exhibition (Nov).

Smiles from Berlin,

Nina

René Holm – A famous Danish Painter – Interview Part 2

René Holm – A famous Danish Painter – Interview Part 2
René Holm by Dino Mari

This month I have met up with the Famous Danish painter René Holm to learn about his road towards success, parenting, taking risks in life, daring to live outside the norm, questioning the “perfect and happy” Dane, his art (naturally), the symbolism in his paintings and where he gets his inspiration from. Did you not read Part 1 yet? Then do it by clicking right here: Part 1.

You will find links to René Holm’s website and social media at the end of this post.

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At the end of Part 1, René and I are discussing parenting and the impact social media has on our kids.

Nina: Why do you think it is like that? That it is different how your daughter and your son are on social media? Are girls more into what other people think of them?

René: In general I think they are. You know as a dad to both a boy and a girl, I knew that there would be more, you know what I call small problems in my daughters world, which in her world are like huge problems, then there would be with having a son. It is not that I love my son more than I love my daughter, but I just knew. You know once I was a teenager and when boys have issues they either hit each other on the shoulders or say “ok, fuck you”… and lets go play some soccer again.

With girls, they are just more mean to each other. I always told my daughter that when she gets a boyfriend, and now she has a boyfriend, since we all have cameras and I can see that people post you know pictures of them selves in bed and in underwear etc.

Nina: From the age of your daughter?

René: Yeah, they start around 14 or 15…and you know I told her this years ago, cause I know people take more nude pictures of each other. I just said to her: “don’t take any sexy photos of yourself and send to your boyfriend. If you get some, then delete them!”. Cause if you really want to hurt somebody when you brake up and you really hate the other person, then having almost a nude photo of somebody, being in that place of pain and even though you know it is wrong, but you just want to hurt that person, then you post it.

Nina: And then there is no way back. Then it is out there!

René: Yeah it is.

Nina: Yeah, this is a big issue in Denmark. I remember reading about a case with kids that posted pornographic content and it is as if they don’t understand what happens in the “real world” when you do something like that. Maybe because so much of their life is in the online world. It is a bit like you are somewhat disconnected from what is happening outside you in the physical world. You have two worlds now, online and offline. Online is something you can create and you can make a fake lifestyle.

René: Yeah really. You can fake your face…haha.

Nina: Yes, and then you build this life that you would like to live, but the more you build it, the more distant it becomes from the real life. Then you just have this huge gap, which is emptiness. I think this is why we see so many young people with big personal problems, cause you are constantly in a state of comparison. Everything is posted online, so you can also compare everything. I really wish for young people they would detox from the online world and try and live without internet for a while. Be in nature or do something else and tune back into who they REALLY are and feel that it is about them and not everyone else.

René: It is a lot about being perfect. Have the perfect legs, but, boobs, face, lips, you know. And I try to say everyday that: “No one IS perfect. I can see that one of the girls you follow on istagram or a friend has longer legs than you, but then she doesn’t have you know…this or that that which you have,” I tell my daughter.

Nina: We also don’t post our imperfections right. Girls might be beautiful, but maybe extremely stupid or you know…

René: There is a funny woman on instagram or facebook (note: her name is Celeste Barber) and what she does is that she finds those really perfect women laying on the beach or by the pool in a perfect pose. Then this woman does the pose in her environment. And you know it is so cool! She really shows how we look.

Celeste Barber on her Instagram profile.

Nina: She is also not the model-type of woman, but more the “housewife-type”

René: She’s got a tummy and morning hair.

Nina: I think she is Australian and she is hilarious! So, now we have talked about your values when it comes to bringing up your kids. I guess you would like them to be more true to who they are and not focus so much on perfection and the outer world.

René: You can try you know, but I don’t know if you succeed.

Nina: How would you describe your own childhood if you look back?

René: Well it was not about you know, being perfect. I think you always want to look as good as you can, when you get to a certain age and begin getting interested in girls. That is how it was for me at least. Me and my friend would go shopping, cause fashion was a big thing for us. But there was not all this posting thing going on. We could only try to make our hair as cool as possible with gel and all that…

Nina: And impress the girls at a party!

René: Yeah, you know…maybe by being a good dancer. But for me, it was definitely a childhood without a lot of concerns. I grew up with my parents and my brother and we lived very close to the forest, until I moved out from childhood home. I would say from the age of 6-8 years until 12 or 13, I remember that almost everyday when I came home from school with some friends, we would drop our school bags, put our knives in our belts and go into the forest and then we made arrows, bows and spears and shelters. I had a dog around me all the time. We kind of thought we were this Robbin Hood gang living in the forest.

Nina: You were also creating things.

René: Yeah, and we came home smelling of dirt. We heard there were other gangs in the same city doing stuff in the forest. Then we went out to try and find their little camp…haha.. and if they were not in their camps, then maybe we could steal their spears and bows and that was really cool!

Nina: I don’t think a lot of 13 year-old boys do that today? It is probably more computer games.

Painting by René Holm.

René: Yeah and I could also sit for hours drawing all by myself. Today I have friends with small kids and when I come and visit them, I never see 2 or 4 kids sitting at a table with tons of paper, crayons and markers and just drawing for hours. You know, today they are sitting with their phones or iPads doing like this…(scrolling) with their fingers up and down. And you know I think about it almost every time I see it.

I think you can be creative and I know the world is changing from people hacking into a stone, to drawing and that is fair enough. But, I think you will loose young kids who actually are creative if the parents don’t spot it at a very early age and you know get into a small art class  after school. But I do think you loose some talent. It is also very easy, cause you get home (as a parent) and you are very tired and you just give them an iPad with a movie.

Nina: It is the “quick fix”, but maybe long-term it is actually a very bad fix.

René: School also did not mean a lot for me! Haha….

Nina: So you were not that enthusiastic about school?

René: I was in school every day and I did my homework, but you know I would rather be in the forest or come home and draw. When I turned around 15 or 16 years-old the whole hip-hop / graffiti wave from America and New York rolled in over Europe like a Tsunami. With all the album covers with trains with graffiti on. With the Wild Style movie that came out in the early 1980s as the first movie where all the photographers followed all the graffiti painters into the tubes in New York. And I was doing hip hop and break dance with my white gloves….

Nina: You were into break dance? You are a dancer too then…Haha!

René: Yeah! I love to dance (we both laugh). So you know that whole thing really just hit me like I don’t know… maybe like what young women might have felt when they first saw Elvis moving his hips in his leather pants.

Nina: You were sold!

Eng ung René Holm laver graffiti tilbage i 1986!

René: I was totally sold. And there were just two books you could get. First one came out with graffiti from New York. Because you know back then we could not Google everything!

Nina: No of course. You had to get physical books. And you had to go to the library?

René: Yeah, and there was one book and one movie. And then all the album covers came with graffiti on. So I was sitting in front of the Tv with the old VHS tapes and I would put the video recorder on pause, to see trains with graffiti on. Then I was sitting in front of the tv and drawing to learn how to do graffiti.

Nina: Wow, this IS a whole other process than today where we can just google everything.

TAKI 183 graffiti.

René: I think my son Oliver was around 10 when we took like 4 hours on the internet and I gave him the whole story of graffiti from TAKI 183, who was like one of the first to do tags in NYC in the late 70s and the whole story up until today. And then after you have been looking at what other graffiti painters would do, then you start to create your own style.

Nina: So your first passion was actually graffiti and tagging?

René: Yup.

Nina: So that is how it started. Was this when you realized you would like to do something along those lines for a living? I mean, you live of painting today, but when did you find out you wanted to be a painter?

René: Oh, it was definitely not when I was doing graffiti, cause that was something really cool and it was a rush you know, to crawl out of the window when your parents were sleeping. It was really a big thing! We would sit and make drawings and listen to hip hop. I don’t remember I thought I was gonna be an artist. Maybe I thought back then it would be cool to do graffiti for the rest of my life. Then you get older and you get a job and then you maybe get your first apartment and you need to be somewhere every morning at 08.00. You begin to realize that maybe you are getting to old for this graffiti shit…haha! You know, I still thought it was cool and during the winter I would teach kids at a school how to do graffiti.

Nina: So you taught Kids graffiti skills.

René: Yup, hired by my city. I thought this was pretty weird you know, hiring me to teach kids how to do graffiti….so that they then can go out and do graffiti.

Nina: Yeah, then they need to train some people in removing it after…haha…

René: Haha…yeah! So I think 10 years after I stopped doing graffiti, I bought a canvas. I actually don’t know what made me do it. Maybe cause I had some regular jobs and I thought: “this is kind of boring” and I did it just to make some money. I always liked to do something with my hands and that was to draw or do graffiti.

Nina: Or building things in the forest…

René Holm’s studio in Berlin with work-in-progress on the walls. Picture by Dino Mari

René: Yeah. And then I thought I could try to do paintings. You know, I am not from a home with art. We had something on our walls but we did not talk about art. We didn’t go to galleries. I don’t think that my parents ever took me to a museum …haha! Then I began to paint and my friends would say: “can we buy that?”. And I would say: “sure”….and they would ask: “and how much is it?” and I would think, well what are my expenses for the canvas and a few hours work. You know….give me €100 or whatever.

Nina: And that is how it started?

René: That is how it started. Then I did some more and I went to a place to get them framed and this guy said: “Have you ever thought about exhibiting them?” and I am like: “how do I do that?” and then came my first exhibition.

Nina: When was that?

René: Ohhh…(René thinks for a while and says)…that is probably back in 1986 or 1987.

Nina: And then it just took off from there and today you exhibit all around the world?

René: Many places yeah. And you know I am not the kind of guy that is afraid of taking a chance. I actually had a job. I was selling clothing.

Nina: But you also mentioned you liked fashion.

René: Yeah yeah. It was an interest, but if I had made a choice to be in fashion I would have probably been the one on the designer part rather than the selling part.

Nina: Maybe that is due to the need to have an outlet for your creativity, cause it is such a big part of you.

René: Yeah, and you know I had a good job, a nice car, and they paid my expenses. I had a free phone and was traveling and making good money. But, I could just feel that the more I was painting, I knew I would have to do it 100% to see if I am really good at this.

Nina: Wow, so you just quit your job?

René: I quit my job and back then our son Oliver was 2 years and 3 months old. My girlfriend also quit her job. She was selling insurances. We sold out little house. Our first house. We packed everything down. Then we bought 17 open airplane tickets, which we should use in a year. Then we bought one ticket to Bangkok. We did not go to Google earth and we did not book a room. We had not planned our next flight.

Nina: Wow, and this was with a little son of 2.

René: Yeah, so he had his little red suitcase that any kid had at that time and he was allowed to pack what he could fit into that, from his room full of “made in China” toys. That was all that he could bring. Then we traveled for 10 months and had an amazing trip. That was really an eye opener to what I was planning to come home with. We were traveling around using our savings. We made some money on the house we sold and we knew we were coming back within a year. We had some money left over for when we came back, so we could start on a fresh.

Nina: This is so important in my opinion, when you want to start something. One thing is to quit your job and say I am gonna try out my dream, but you still had some money saved up as a back-up. When I first wanted to do music, I also quit my job on a whim, and I did not have a backup of savings. So, I quickly began to freak out about where the money was gonna come from and this completely blocked my creative process. So for me that was the disastrous way, where as the way you did, well at least you did not have the same financial worry.

René: Well it was not a big concern, but still it was there for it was not millions we had at all. We knew that when we came home from our trip, we had to start on a fresh in a new home and my girlfriend needs to get a new job.

Nina: And you were gonna focus on your painting?

René: And I was starting on the academy of Art for five years with no income!

(To be continued)

In Part 3 we hear about how René had to turn down his dad’s offer of taking over the successful family business. How did René feel about this and how did his dad react? What advice does René give his own children as they seek to find out which career path to choose. All this and more will be revealed this coming Sunday, so stay tuned!

If you want to find out more about René Holm here are links to his website and social media:

Website  Facebook  Instagram

Coming exhibitions with René Holm in 2018:

Code Art Fair (DK) at Galeri Benoni (30th of Aug – 2nd of Sept),  Esbjerg Gymnasium (DK) presenting new work in glass and neon made for the school (Aug), Kühlhaus Berlin (DE) group exhibition during Berlin Art Week with Kurator Uwe Goldstein (Sept), Museum Frello (DK) Group Exhibition (Sept), Hygum Kunstmuseum (DK) group exhibition (Sept) Galeri Benoni (DK) Solo exhibition (Nov).

Smiles from hot and sunny Berlin,

Nina

René Holm – A famous Danish Painter – Interview Part 1

René Holm – A famous Danish Painter – Interview Part 1
The Danish Painter René Holm by Dino Mari

It is 11.00 and I am in Berlin Friedrichshain to meet the famous Danish painter René Holm, who has a studio both here in Berlin and one in Denmark. René greets me with his black hat, black T-shirt and black shorts. He opens the door to a super cool flat in a building that used to house a factory. The flat has high ceilings, is stylish, minimalistic and done with class. It is full of amazing art pieces, both René’s work and the work of others.

The first room we step into is his studio and I feel a thrill of excitement. I had not expected to get s sneak peak into his work in progress. This magic space where creativity flows and turns into art pieces manifested on a canvas. “Wow, can I take a look?” I ask. “Yes, sure” René replies and adds that he often has clients who come to see his unfinished work and some even buy it before it is done. “I work on several pieces at once and move around between them. Last night I worked on this one and painted the wire a bit longer” he says and points to a large picture on the wall of a girl by a lake (see below). We talk about his art for a while before he makes me a cuppa tea and we sit down to start the interview.

René Holm standing infront of one of his paintings, which is still a work-in-progress. Photo by Nina Hall

Nina: Who are you René Holm?

René: Well first of all I am a Danish artist who is very curious about telling stories through my work. I am a painter, which is easy to see if you see my work. I love all the different layers, the different techniques in paintings…ehm, cause painters they work in very different ways. You can see painters that almost don’t have any layers. If you see my work, you can really see that I am a painter.

So to come back to your question: I am a painter and I want to tell stories to the viewers and that is probably why I find it interesting to work with people who struggle most in their lives. Not that it is something that I do personally. Well I do have some concerns and thoughts about my work all the time of course, but mostly for me it is interesting to visit people that we hear about in the news or we see on the streets. Then you know, you have thoughts about them and our kids have thoughts about them and we talk about it in our family. So for me it is important once in a while to meet those people.

Now I want to meet the refugees. I want to meet the homeless people. All those that I don’t meet in my daily life. So, it is kind of like a research in the beginning. Almost like somebody who travels around and tells stories to a newspaper. I keep all those experiences for myself. You know, we can Google everything but to see the people and to maybe feel their pain, smell the smell of a homeless, hear their stories, you know in the street. It is something else than if you google everything. So I come home with all those experiences, feelings and I always bring my camera.

Nina: When you go out?

René: Yes, so I can take pictures of people. And then I come home after a trip to somewhere and I have many pictures of somewhere or of a group of people. Then it takes me a while to figure out why this is interesting. Why is this interesting for the viewer. How can I take those people into my work and put them in a new or different environment and through that tell stories to the viewer. Cause for me it is important as an artist and if I see art, that the artwork can have a dialogue with the viewer. So if it is hanging in your home or in a company and 4-5 or 10 people are standing in front of it then maybe they can have a good discussion. It is not about if they want the work in their living room, but mostly if it can give a good discussion about ”no I think he is looking for that or searching for that”.

Quite often I have people who write me long emails about that they have seen my work. I don’t know them and they write me very honest stories about how that painting reminded them about a certain thing in their life. And that is a big thing for me, that they actually take time to do that. It is just a good feeling that my work actually does something for somebody. That keeps me going into the studio every day.

So first of all, when I go into the studio it is not for the…. (René pauses)…of course I want to sell it, cause I need to sell my art, cause I have tons of expenses. But it is never with that option or that point of view when I start to do a series of work. Cause after almost 20 years of course I know which paintings are easier to sell than other paintings. And especially with my new and very dark series of paintings I know that they are harder to sell because they are so dark. Most people want to have bright paintings in their room and also because of what they tell.

René infront of one of his paintings from the Darkness series. Although it seems dark, when the sunlight hits the painting, which it does in this picture I was lucky to capture, it reveals so much color, layer and detail. Photo by Nina Hall

Nina: Why do you think so may of us don’t like dark paintings in our homes? We talked a bit about this when I arrived today, before we started the interview, and you said ”actually life is both light and dark”. We have the night that is dark and it can be beautiful biking home in the dark. But we automatically associate the darkness with something negative. Do you think that could be a reason why many of us refrain from having a darker pictures?

René: I am sure that is one of the reasons. It is because the darkness is a mental thing and a physical thing. And for me the darkness is really beautiful when I ride my bike through the city or a park at night, you know to take a piss with my dog late at night. I often stand in the street and I am almost the only one there and you see the light from the light poles or the stars or the moon or whatever. Then you have the mental part, which will strike every human in life and we will all loose somebody close to us eventually.

I have friends who have been in a dark period. It can be from a divorce, it can be from work, stress or whatever and then we all need to find our way back to life. And that is why all the paintings have small light points.

Maybe you can recognize this picture René is standing infront of? It is the same as the one you have seen above of the girl by the lake. However, this photo was taken some days before the other one. Fascinating to spot the massive change the painting has undergone.True work-in-progress. Photo of René Holm in his studio in Berlin by Dino Mari.

So either they are holding a light to kind of guide them through life, or they are searching for the light on the other side. And it can be the beauty there that they are looking for, but it can also be you know, to come back to life.

Now you ask me why people don’t want to have dark paintings mostly, and I think some people they can see the beauty in them, but a lot of people…I think they are kind of afraid to have them. Not only to look at, but also because it can send a wrong signal to their friends or family you know. Why do you have something so dark?

Nina: ”What are you hiding from us…haha”

René: Yeah, and especially as a Dane, you know we need to be so positive. We are that most……..

Nina: Most happy nation, right?

René: I don’t know where it comes from haha…. (we both laugh)

Nina: Yeah, I also asked myself that a few times…(note to reader: I Nina, grew up in Denmark, too)

René in his flat in Berlin. The windows in the wall are from the time when the flat housed a factory. They add an industrial and raw vibe to the flat.

René: So I think sometimes, especially as I know Danes, you know we have to be so positive, we have to live so amazing. What we have on our walls should be like ”happy clowns” or whatever. I do know a lot of people who have dark paintings with dark themes, but that is because I do what I do. I know a lot of people who collect art, but that is 2-3% of the population in Denmark who really collect art and also see the beauty in something dark or a dramatic photo with blood.

Nina: Yes and to get through life you cannot avoid the darkness. But if you constantly avoid it because it is uncomfortable, for me at least, there is something you are trying to escape from right? If you dare to look at it and feel what it really provokes inside you, then you can also let it go. But if you always try and hide it away, it just will stay inside you. Then every time you see something dark it will feel uncomfortable until you get past this and can just see it for what it is.

René: Uhm…

Nina: I must admit I can feel like the people you describe as being uncomfortable with the dark pictures. But, at the same time it also makes me curious cause I am always searching for why I feel the way I do, so I get curious to find out, why does it make me uncomfortable.

René: Yes, some of the works that are dark and have this dark feeling or atmosphere show that there is something happening which is not part of the perfect life. Some people will see them (the paintings) but they don’t comment them cause you know, this is too dark.

Sometimes I wish that we could have some of the way of living like they have in South America, cause they really almost celebrate darkness and death in another way. And they strongly believe that there is something after death, like in other religions in the far east. So for them darkness is not something negative. And as you said it is almost something that you don’t talk about. And you know in my family, as my parents and my mother in law …. (René pauses for a while)….hvad fa’en hedder svigerforældre (that was Danish and means: what the f…. do you call in-laws)?

Nina: In-laws

René: In-laws… hahaha….It’s like…we don’t talk about not feeling good. Really not at all in our family. It is something you just swallow. And I don’t know any families that don’t have any issues. Really!

Nina: No, the perfect family does not really exist although we all try to create it.

René: Well, I know some where they really really want to show that their family is super perfect. Their kids are like super kids and I don’t fucking believe it!

Nina: Yeah and the thing is also what is the cost. What is the price you pay to try and create this perfect family.

René: That is a lot of stomach pain. When something goes wrong in a family like that, which I have seen….that all of a sudden the son or the daughter does something or the husband might come out and say: “well I have seen this other woman for five years “ or whatever…then everything just brakes totally down. Then you can really talk about darkness and finding your way back. And I often hear…and that really makes me mad…the “what would other people think” phrase.

Nina: Yes, but that is the general problem right, of people living lives they create to be accepted by the outside world.

René: And that is really bullshit! You know when people say: “what would other people think if we do so, or if I get tattoos or if I get whatever”. I am like, if you want to do it, then do it! What does it matter?

Nina: yes, and would people really care about what YOU do in the end? Maybe they would talk about it for a few minutes and then that’s it. We always think everyone else it so occupied with that we do, but actually they are not.

René: No no.

Nina: It is all in our heads. And we are so afraid of falling outside the norm and not being accepted. And if you are like this, you can keep being like that for the rest of your life.

René: I think some people they really…if people do something different…think: “ why didn’t we do that too? You know I am working from 07.00 – 18.00 and I am doing whatever…”

Nina: Maybe just to make money…

René: It IS to make money to have the perfect outside life. And especially with all the media now, we show our perfect life. If you are on holiday it is almost like: “Don’t touch your food and put the expensive wine bottle in front of the camera” so that everyone can see how great our vacation is.

Nina: When you walk down the street and you see people at the restaurants, many of them are not even talking together, cause they are busy posting pictures of their food on social media. And does it really make you feel better when you get 10 or 20 likes? Why is it we do this? Is it to get acceptance?

René: Some people do it to tell their story and some people do it to be part of the great world, or be famous, or get accepted. I am that old that I grew up before the smart phone… haha….good for me, but as a dad of two kids… (René pauses…)

Nina: How old are your kids?

René: 21 and 16.

Nina: And the 21 year-old is your son and the 16 year-old is your daughter.

René: Yes, and for my daughter it is definitely more important to show the perfect pictures on instagram. They both don’t use facebook. Or almost not at all.

Nina: So the younger generation is more on instagram and snapchat?

René: Totally. Facebook is almost done for them. They probably go through it to see who’s birthday it is today, just to say happy birthday.

Nina: Why do you think it is like that? That it is different how your daughter and your son are on social media? Are girls more into what other people think of them? (….to be continued)

Find out what René answers to that question next Wednesday evening on the 15th of  August, when the 2nd part of this interview is up. We also dive further into René’s own childhood, his love for graffiti and how he ended up doing art.

If you want to find out more about René Holm here are links to his website and social media:

Website  Facebook  Instagram

Coming exhibitions with René Holm in 2018:

Code Art Fair (DK) at Galeri Benoni (30th of Aug – 2nd of Sept),  Esbjerg Gymnasium (DK) presenting new work in glass and neon made for the school (Aug), Kühlhaus Berlin (DE) group exhibition during Berlin Art Week with Kurator Uwe Goldstein (Sept), Museum Frello (DK) Group Exhibition (Sept), Hygum Kunstmuseum (DK) group exhibition (Sept) Galeri Benoni (DK) Solo exhibition (Nov).

Smiles from hot and sunny Berlin,

Nina

Next up! René Holm – A famous Danish painter

Next up! René Holm – A famous Danish painter

After a long and hot summer break I am back. I have been spending time in wonderful Copenhagen, where I have seen my family and friends. I had my 2-year-old boy with me and we were desperately trying to find things to do in the HOT Danish summer. Being in a city could be challenging…but, we have some great tips on what to do, which I will be posting for you here on my blog.

Anyways, as many of you know, every month I post an interview with a person who lives with passion. A person who has chosen to follow a dream and now lives of it. How did they do it? What challenges did they face and how did they overcome the fear of failure, which hits most of us as we embark on new adventures….especially if they are far beyond the beaten track.

This month I have been lucky to dive into a whole new world. The world of the famous Danish painter René Holm.

René Holm by Dino Mari

His dad expected him to take over the growing family business, but René Holm knew he did not want to go that way. When the day came, René turned down his dad’s offer. Many of us would say that was brave! How did his dad react to it?

Did René always know he wanted to live of his art and how has the journey been until today? I also asked him where he found the courage to go his “own way”?

René has done a series of paintings that share the theme Darkness. We talk about why so many of us fear the darkness and why René loves to paint it? Where does he get the inspiration for his paintings and the themes he chooses for his work? Does he ever feel fear of failure even as a successful and well established painter? Does he have any tips for other aspiring painters?

René has two teenage kids and we also touch upon the challenges we face today, while raising our kids in a fast-pace online world, where striving towards perfection seems to be a key theme.

Naturally you will also get a sneak peak into René Holm’s amazing art and even some work-in-progress, which I was lucky to take pictures of in his studio in Berlin.

The first part of the interview will be online later this week, so stay tuned!

René is exhibiting his evocative work the following places in 2018:

Code Art Fair (DK) at Galeri Benoni (30th of Aug – 2nd of Sept),  Esbjerg Gymnasium (DK) presenting new work in glass and neon made for the school (Aug), Kühlhaus Berlin (DE) group exhibition during Berlin Art Week with Kurator Uwe Goldstein (Sept), Museum Frello (DK) Group Exhibition (Sept), Hygum Kunstmuseum (DK) group exhibition (Sept) Galeri Benoni (DK) Solo exhibition (Nov).

For more info on René Holm, his work and exhibitions visit his website here.

Last month I was lucky to talk to Boney M singer Marcia Barrett.

Marcia Barrett with her memoir about the time before, after and during Boney M. Here you see the English version “Forward” and the German version “Immer Weiter”.

It was a deeply personal, inspirational and strong story about life before, during and after her time as one of the 3 original Boney M Singers. A story which she also wrote about in her brand new book “Forward” (or “Immer Weiter” in German).

It is an interview about coming from deep poverty in Jamaica to the UK, where she got pregnant and found out as she was giving birth at the age of 16! At the age of 30 she joined Boney M in Germany and later she was to find out that Producer Frank Farian was cheating the band for millions in Royalties etc.

How did Marcia get through all this? Read the interview right here.

Smiles to you from hot and sunny Berlin,

Nina

Interview with Marcia Barrett of Boney M – Life before, during and after Boney M

Interview with Marcia Barrett of Boney M – Life before, during and after Boney M
Marcia Barrett with her memoir about the time before, during and after Boney M. Here you see the English version “Forward” and the German version “Immer Weiter”.

I am excited to present to you this interview with singer Marcia Barrett from the world famous band Boney M. She was part of the band from their beginning in 1975 – until a messy brake up in 1989. She just released her Memoir about life before, during and after Boney M. I hope you will enjoy this personal and highly inspirational interview, as much as I did.

Nina

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N: First I would like to say thank you for letting me interview you.

M: Thank you for the interest.

N: I would like to get a few facts straight from the beginning so my readers know who you are. You are Miss Marcia Barrett.

M: I believe it! (Marcia answers while laughing).

N: And you were born in Jamaica where you lived in poverty and later you became famous as one of the singers in Boney M, which you were a part of from 1975 – 1989.

M: Yeeees. Correct!

N: You became a mother at the age of 16. You are a wife and you survived cancer 5 times.

M: Yes, plus I had operations in between that I did not mention.

N: Wow, yes, cause you just published your book ”Forward” about the time before, during and after Boney M. Correct?

M: Exactly dear. It is about time I get to say what I want to say. It has been put on the backburner for quite some time now. And now it is the right time for me to bring it out.

N: How does it feel to finally have your story out?

M: Oh, wonderful, wonderful, and the reactions I am getting are that everybody likes the book. Some are saying that it is a pity that they have to finish reading it. And all this in one week! (Marcias book had only been out one week at the time of this interview). It is all very very encouraging.

Marcia Barretts Memoir “Forward” about life before, during and after Boney M.

N: Yes, cause your book came out here on the 21st of June, 2018. And where can one buy it?

M: In the UK “Forward” should be out in all the major bookstores and also here in Germany it is out and it is called “Immer Weiter” (You can also buy it online).

N: Is there a specific message you would like to get out to your readers through this book, now that you have a voice through the book?

M: Well, what I would like to say is that I hope some people could get inspired by reading my story. It is a natural story. I was brought up by a single parent, my mother. After 2 years she sent for my sister and myself to come to England and join her. I was 13 then and my sister is 2 years younger than I am. Then we came to Britain and that was a culture shock, but it was lovely (Marcia lets out a small laughter, before she continues) and you know life was rough. We were in 1-room the three of us and there was a kitchen on the ground floor where all tenants in the house could cook their meals. But what I would like to say to the people who say: “well aren’t you a bit embarrassed that you come from a poor Background” and I can answer that I feel entirely the opposite! Because this taught me how strong I had to be from when life starts. Nothing was put on the table for you. You had to go out and get it, work it and make your goals. So this is actually an incentive for people to see that it does not really matter if you were born with nice surroundings or both parents there. It has nothing to do with your character. You have got the will to pursue what you would like out of life and that is exactly what I did. And I had my goals set. And each goal…well it might have taken long, buuut it is better late than never.

N: Does this mean that you new early on that you wanted to be a singer?

M: Well, not at that age before I left Jamaica. But once I came to Britain and I was working in an office and I was working as a junior clerk making 7 pounds per week. I knew it was not my thing … haha.

So, of cource I knew I had some sort of talent with singing, cause with singing in our class my teachers were always telling me to take my voice down a little. And I am getting the lead role in Macbeth playing Macduff. All the photos are in the book. So you saw what I was actually implementing, not verbally, but through body language and what I would love to take part in.

N: Wow, it is beautiful to have such strong goals at such an early age.

M: Yes, and when I got my chance to come to Germany, as a dancer that is, everything is in my book, I also knew that was still not for me. What I really wanted was to stand on stage and belt it out. I want to sing, I want to feel, I want to deliver!

Five years after I came to Germany, where I had been doing two years as a dancer, it turned into me being a singer from Jamaica with different bands and so forth. Then I heard about this producer who wanted to audition a couple of black girls. And I was skeptical cause I was doing quite well and I was not into bands and all that.

But then I went back to England and it was plaguing me. You know? Always going around in my head…this group…maybe you could do it? Then I went back to Germany and I did make that call to my girlfriend who had told me about this situation before. And Farian was still looking for ladies you know. But, he did not really say sing, or who could sing or whatever. Anyway, I went to the audition, which I wrote in the book, and his arranger was there with me at his flat. So we were the three of us. I sang a couple of songs and at the end of it Farian said: “That will do”. So, that was how I entered into Boney M … haha.

I am proud of that today. You know, of the woman I am today. I know the value of setting goals. Living your dream. You have achieved that and then you move for another one. That was my entire life, even through you are thrown off so many times.

Boney M. with Marcia Barrett on the far right.

N: I guess that that you do not see yourself as a victim, but as a survivor and a fighter?

M: Exactly, exactly dear

N: So it is very much the mindset you carry with you, that shapes who you become?

M: Yes exactly, cause I know what it is to fight. I know what it is now, to drink a glass of champagne after my tea any morning if I want. You know what I mean?

N: Yes you value it more.

M: And I still don’t throw away food. Marcus and I will eat it the next day (Marcus James is Marcia’s Husband). Nothing is thrown away unnecessarily. Cause I always tend to remember, people are there who would like a hot bowl of soup or something like that and if I am taking everything for granted and throwing it away, that is nonsense. That is the way I see life.

N: In your book you also write about how you became a mom at the age of 16. This is very young. How did you cope?

M: Yes yes, this is a different step. I was not sure I was pregnant. I went to school and had my son in the Easter Holiday and had two weeks off from school. I took part in all the sport during our PE classes only except not swimming. Back then we have these corsets on that you hook to your stockings and that was elasicating and I shared nothing. I was still sleeping in the bed with my mother and sister and had to put on my nightdress, right? And my mother did not notice anything. I even went to the doctor who said: “ahhh that is ok, maybe it is your age. Sometimes it comes and sometimes it does not” you know the monthly and my dear, before you know it one Sunday morning I took in. I told my mum: “oh please, I think I am getting a cold cause my stomach is hurting me”. She said: “a cold?”. Anyway, to cut a long story short, within half an hour the ambulance was there. When I knew I was really gonna have a baby, that was when we reached the hospital, which was not in our vicinity. At that time I was registered nowhere and was getting no treatment.

N: No, I guess, cause you had not known before.

M: No, so when the nurse looked at me she said: “Oh it is gonna be a boy”.

N: Oh my and you had no idea you were pregnant, That is absolutely crazy!

M: And I said to myself…a boy…is she talking about a baby? And so I was admitted and then they had to really start working on me. I got blood transfusion and a fatal heartbeat, but I had him three minutes to eight Sunday evening. He was weighing 7 punds.

N: What is that in Kg? I am not so good in pounds…was he a normal size then?

M: Kg? Oh, I could not tell you either, but he was normal and everything on: toes and everything.

N: So you have a son today, who is actually not that much younger than you?

M: Yes, my son now is 52 … haha.

N: Does he still live in England?

M: Yes yes, but we have no contact. I have written everything in the book to explain where I am coming from so people get to know, who I really am. Cause you only see a pop group and you are always smiling you know. But, I am a happy person mind you. And I am a very positive person. So I just want that in sharing my story I am sure that there are other people out there that can really be inspired. Through all the trials and tribulations I am still on my feet.

I was paralyzed once from the waist down to my feet and I taught myself to walk again. Without any wheelchair and without any medicals telling me that: “after that she will help you to heal”. I said “no, I’ll do it”.

I would do sports every morning. My husband and I were living on the outskirts of Palm Beach where I had a beautiful waterfront property built at the time. That was during the early Boney M days. It was just for holidays. You could get flights to Jamaica then, which lasted 1 hour and 20 minutes. So it was near home … haha…

N: A little escape.

M: Yes, exactly. And that was the reason why I built this house.

N: I read in one of your previous interviews, that one thing that got you through all these challenges was also your passion for your music, your love from your family and your love for them and also your religion?

M: Well my dear, nowadays I don’t even want to talk about religion. My religion is my strong faith. It comes from the soul and the heart. You know I don’t have to go to a church to be convinced that there is a God who is looking after you. And my husband is the same. We never go to churches to sing and that, cause you can even get killed in churches nowadays. So, you keep your worship at home, alone. Together you find a lovely spot.

N: Do you think this strong faith in something greater than you, has made it easier for you to see the bigger picture at times?

M: Well of course, cause sometimes it sounds as if there is actually just a voice saying: “Do this my child. Don’t do this my child”. Your inner conscious. And sometimes you just have to read between the lines …about the signs. Like, if something does not work out, you then say: “oh well, there must be a reason why it did not work out.” Not only waiting for it to rejoice. It is beautiful to rejoice but there are times when you are not able to accept the answer of what you are looking for. But still life goes on and you have got to have the will to live! I enjoy life to the full. I enjoy life. I thank God every day and say: “thank you Jesus for this wonderful day”. It could be rainy, it could be sunny or it could be snowy. Even though I am from Jamaica I love all seasons. All seasons I look forward to. As long as I am able to walk, go on stage and entertain the fans. Even if it is just for half and hour or 45 minutes. Don’t forget there are a lot of false Boney M’s out there.

N: Yes, and you are the “real deal”

M: Yes, I am the original voice, a big part of the vocals, the image and everything.

N: And you were also lead singer on several of Boney M’s songs.

M: Yes a couple of leads on what Frank decided to give me. He pulled my voice a little bit more up. But you know, I don’t have to try and paint the picture, cause that is the reality of it. You know, it has been team work.

Frank Farian and Marcia Barrett

N: Do you think your faith and ability to see the “bigger picture” in things has helped you get through the brake up of the band back then. I read it was not a very nice experience you went through?

M: Yes, without a doubt. I just followed my voice, my inner voice with regards to what to do.

The abrupt ending of “Boney M” by Farian was not tragic for me but surprising indeed without any discussion. I just said at least I have time to focus on my solo-work now … haha.

N: When did you find out that you were being cheated from all this money (millions!) in Royalties etc from Frank Farian and that you were not getting the money you should have had?

M: That’s a fact. Well, what are you gonna do? Are you gonna spend all your life quarreling in court and all that? I love positive energies.

N: Well many people would probably have gone to court and fought.

M: Yes, and then you don’t have the energy to go out and perform cause it is a fight.

N: And you had already been sick with cancer a few times back then?

M: Well maybe cause I was worried about when I am gonna get back on stage? I think that had a lot to do with it. Even though I was in a fantastic waterfront property (Palm Beach House), it was like a golden cage. I could not get to do my work, my art. That was very frustrating. But I knew I was eventually gonna get better and come back, cause I don’t have to explain who Boney M is. We were not a huge act in USA where we visited for one week only regarding “PR” activities. Straight after that trip we had to fly back to be the first Pop Group who were invited to “Former Soviet Union” – now RUSSIA.

N: Wow, that was a very big thing too. You tried so many things.

M: Yes, haha.

N: You know, many people dream of a life in fame and fortune. Would you say that it does make you a happier person?

M: I must say it is lovely! But, you have to keep a level head.

N: So keep your feet on the ground.

M: Yes, it is not all that is fame and fortune. It is not everything, you see? I am not saying it is not enjoyable, cause it is, but it is not everything! You have to remain with your values and know what you are talking about. Know what you want out of life.

N: And I guess also love what it is you are making your money from, so love what you do for a living?

M: Yes, that is my profession. And later on that will lead you to something else. See, now I am an author and when I am ready, I can write any story. This is my memoir. But then I can imagine putting myself into situation that I can be in with a little acting and writing another story and so forth you see. So it is never ending and it is exciting to move from one phase to another.

N: I read you also do talks for people about surviving cancer right?

M: Well, I have done that before in India and so forth and it could be a bigger engagement now, when I have time that is.

N: That could empower many people.

M: I have been offered a couple of spots but nothing is signed yet, because I am weighing it all out. The book is only just over a week old and from the remarks from journalist and from the fans they are all very pleased.

N: I can’t wait to get my copy of your book!

M: Well you had better get your copy soon….haha! Well I must say though that the English version is laid out better with the photos as they are in color and the German is in black and white.

N: Well I am going for the English version.

M: Well that is good and the way it is presented is very classy.

Marcia Barrett

N: We have talked about passion for what you do when it comes to working and making money. I would like to know if you think it is a problem today that so many people have jobs they are not passionate about? I mean, you are a passionate person and most of us today choose the more stable and “safe” careers instead of just daring to go all in a follow their dreams, which I believe you did?

M: Marcia pauses and says…Yes, but then again not everybody has that…hmm, what do you say now…fortune….are not that fortunate.

First of all, you must not fear a thing! Because guess what. If you fear and reach half way and turn back, then you are really not sure. If you are not sure, then it is best to stay doing what you do at the moment. It needs planning way ahead.

N: I am also asking you this, cause there are so many kids that are troubled about their future. They are so stressed out and afraid to follow their passion, when they choose what to do.

M: Well I am asking myself, why we / our generation or even those after, don’t have all those problems. We were sent to school and took in what we could. Growing up as a child was not a problem. Nowadays everything is so confusing you know. Everything is just a basic route for us to have taken back then. Look at us. We have not turned into serial killers or depressive zombies walking around taking drugs. You know what I am saying? It was really a normal way of life. Kids go to school. Learn learn learn and learn how to be … hmmm… what do you call it…

N: Disciplined?

M: Yes, disciplined. Exactly. There are duties before you go to school and there are duties after you come home from school at home. And it is not that your parents want to punish you. It was for your own good, cause later on you are gonna see. Like nowadays the kids are sitting with their little phones when supper is ready and you go: “helloooo, dinner is ready”. And everybody is locked in their room with all these computers. Oh my God, Thank God I have not got this to deal with … Hahaha.

N: I think that is a very good point. I believe many of the problems come from this artificial online life, you know, you can even create a fake life.

M: Yes, it all got out of hand.

N: I agree and I really hope to see a change.

M: Yeah, you are walking out on the street and people are just bumping into you cause everybody’s heads are down in these gadgets.

N: Yes, and taking pictures of their food at restaurants

M: If they are sitting with their spouse or whoever at the table and dining, there is no conversation at all because everybody has got a gadget in their hand. Oh God, I would say:”Oh I need my freedom from all this”.

N: Yes, it is like you are so busy with your life online that you actually disconnect from the life offline.

M: Yes from the real life. Get to know somebody properly or you know just talk. There must be something to discuss verbally.

N: Yeah I hope so otherwise it is a bit sad.

M: It is very very sad. But that is how its come over nowadays.

Marcia Barrett is still performing Boney M songs across the world.

N: Well Marcia, I really would like to know, when looking back at your career what is the biggest moment … like a highlight? What it the first thing that comes to mind?

M: Oh I have quite a few you know. That visit to Moscow as the first group from the west that was really something else. And then when we performed for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the 2nd.

N: Oooh, this is a big moment.

M: I mean that is something. That is incredible. Up until this day I can say her majesty shook my hand and spoke to us: “Are you performing here?”. And then of course the biggest of all is when you can still perform, do a show with the same songs globally, and that your fans are still there after 40 years!

N: Yes, you are still active and performing and I bet you will do that until you have to be “carried out of here”.

M: Yes, they will have to carry me. It is a good job …haha… that you can change after you get too old to wiggle your hip…haha… You can just sit by a piano. I enjoy it so much.

N: Do you have some nice jobs lined up with Boney M?

M: Here in Berlin not, but we have done a couple of shows here. But it is globally and can you imagine that! Who comes first gets the job done. I work with different booking agents and if they have something…well they know my terms that I go out with, then I take it. And then you are gone here or you are gone there.

N: I would love to see you in action on stage!

M: Well I will let you know when we have a show in Berlin…haha..

N: That is wonderful. I would like to ask you a final question. Would you do it all again? Looking back, knowing how it all turned out and what you have been through?

M: Yes! I would do it all again … haha. And this time I am hoping to get all the money I worked for. The rewards should be really fair.

N: I must admit that I was quite appalled to read that you got 300DM for a performance in front of 200.000 back then.

M: Oh yes, that was back in those days. Oh my God. Can you imagine! That was because we had no manager.

N: And you just accepted it?

M: Well yes, cause you have no time to even argue …haha.

N: So you just toured?

M: Yes from one venue to the other and then press and all that. It is like saying you can’t have everything at the same time, you know.

N: Yes, and you chose not to go to court, so I guess you will get your reward in heaven?

M: Yes and he (Frank Farian) has got to live with his conscious and mine is clean. Clean and truthful.

N: That is the most important thing and also that you can look yourself in the eyes at night.

M: Exactly! And look in the mirror and glow every morning.

—0—

Thank you to Marcia Barrett for taking the time to give us all such a personal insight into her life as a member of Boney M, one of the biggest bands of the 70’s and 80s.

Are you curious to read more about Marcia Barrett and her life before, during and after Boney M, then you can buy her memoir “Forward” in English here or “Immer weiter” in German here.

Follow Marcia on Facebook here 

Smiles from Berlin,

Nina

—0—

Other Interviews (only in Danish!)

Månedens Interview i Juni med Kate Hall.

Månedens Interview i Maj med Maj Bjerre

Månedens Interview i April med Ditte Young

 

 

 

 

 

It feels like being in love!

It feels like being in love!
My brand new PR picture taken by Saskia Hubert.

Do you ever think about how wonderful it would be if you could live of your passion? I do. Every day I dream of being able to live of what I love. I believe this is one of the keys to long-lasting happiness. One of the things I really really REALLY love is to write music. This is when I completely loose track of time, forget to eat, forget I am tired even after 8 hours or more work. This is the effect “being passionate about something” has on me. Hang on…It is actually a bit like being in love!

Right now I am also a bit in love with this new song of mine. It is called IT WAS YOU and was officially released last week!

About three years ago, I wrote this song when I realized how negative I was always talking to myself. I had so much to be happy about yet, I was the master of talking myself down even when others gave me praise. I realized that if I ever want to be happy and make my dreams come true I have to change the way I think. I have to think myself up, rather than down and love who I am. It all starts with me. I am responsible for my life, no one else. This is the message of the song.

I hope you will enjoy it. Share it. Be moved by it. Maybe even buy it. You can hear it right here by clicking on the album cover below.

 

If you want to hear the full length of the song you can also listen here on Soundcloud.

Maybe you have read my blog before?

Then you know I enjoy meeting other passionate people and hearing their stories. Every month I post an interview with a passionate person who “made it” and lives of his or her passion. THIS MONTHS INTERVIEW is with none other than BONEY M singer MARCIA BARRETT. It is up any day now, so stay tuned for a personal, inspiring and breathtaking story about life before, during and after Boney M.

Smiles from Berlin

Nina