The Counterwave

Discover a story of a contemporary painting by artist Martin Bigum

By Bornholms Kunstmuseum

Bigum - The CounterwaveBornholms Kunstmuseum

The Artist

Martin Bigum is an important artist on Denmark's contemporary art scene. In 2015, his exhibition "My own art -1989-2014" was featured at the Bornholm Art Museum and he remained on the island for one month. During that time, he painted the work of art "The Counterwave", trying to capture the special light which artist have always treasured about Bornholm, especially in modernism. Martin Bigum is very knowledgeable of art history and his works are filled with references to the works of other artists. Rooted in his drawing of comic strips, he mixes highbrow and lowbrow art. His kaleidoscopic works of art resemble puzzles - it is up to the viewer to assemble the pieces. The Counterwave renders his impressions of Bornholm, depicting places he saw during his stay, some more specific than others. These include the Bornholm Art Museum, works of art in our collection, places in the countryside, the views around the museum and many other sites on the island.

Bigum - sketch on paperBornholms Kunstmuseum

Before the painting

Martin Bigum uses sketches as part of his creative process. Perhaps this stems from his early days as a cartoonist for MAD magazine. He draws what he sees in his mind and calls them 'sights', translating them onto paper. When he moves on to canvas, his painting take on a life and nature all their own, he once said in an interview.

Bigum - artwork in processBornholms Kunstmuseum

No colour is coincidental

Martin Bigum working in his studio during his stay in the town of Gudhjem on Bornholm in the summer of 2015. When working with colour, Bigum focuses on personal expression and visual dialogue. All colours are well considered and contain hues of their neighbour. Finishing the painting, Bigum described in an interview how he went through a crisis in the process and needed to tame the painting. Especially the man in the foreground creates inner turmoil since he commands so much power and prominence in the imagery. Experiencing a crisis such as this when processing a work of art is normal, Bigum explains.

Bigum - The CounterwaveBornholms Kunstmuseum

Close up of the area Bigum is working on.

Bigum - testing colorsBornholms Kunstmuseum

Paper plates featuring many renderings of colour.

Bigum - The CounterwaveBornholms Kunstmuseum

Like a prism

The Counterwave is structured like a prism, as Bigum is fascinated by cubism and Picasso. Every little tale within the shape of Bornholm mimics a sensory experiential aspect or source of inspiration from the island.
This detail in the middle shows a tiny piece of the rooftop of the Bornholm Art Museum.

Bigum - The Counterwave - close-upBornholms Kunstmuseum

Close-up of the section of the Bornholm Art Museum which inspired Bigum.

The museum was built in 1993 and extended in 2003.

Architects: Johan Fogh and Per Følner.

Bigum - The CounterwaveBornholms Kunstmuseum

Close-up of a detail showing how Bigum is inspired by the painting "Wooded path, Christiansø" by Bornholm artist Edvard Weie (1879–1943). Weie was one of the modern Danish artists who went to Paris and discovered cubism.

Bigum - inspiration - Edvard Weie - close-upBornholms Kunstmuseum

Wooded path, Christiansø 

The original painting "Wooded path, Christiansø" by artist Edvard Weie (1879–1943), one of the “Bornholm Artists”.

Bigum - The CounterwaveBornholms Kunstmuseum

Another close-up showing the Sacred Cliff you'll find close by the museum.

The Sanctuary Cliff

Bigum - oil paint and brushesBornholms Kunstmuseum

Art in progress

Process and tools alive in his Gudhjem studio during his stay on Bornholm in the summer of 2015.

Bigum and his ragsBornholms Kunstmuseum

The rag

Martin Bigum holding his rag abundantly stained with oil colours. He sees the stains as process-related witnesses to the decisions and thoughts underlying each colour in the painting.

Bigum and his rags - close up, From the collection of: Bornholms Kunstmuseum
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Close-up of Bigum’s oil-colour stained rag made of old bed linen.

Bigum in his studioBornholms Kunstmuseum

Personal portrait of Martin Bigum wearing his "The Counterwave" rag in his Gudhjem studio. The actual work of art in progress is seen behind him.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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