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UNE PARISIENNE

From bookazine no. 2, which has long been sold out, I have put all the articles from this issue online. You can find the full-text articles here #bookazine2

March 2020

A petite woman with a big presence

Facts:
Vibeke Rohland is 62 years old
She studied art history at the University of Copenhagen and graduated as a textile designer from the School of Decorative Art in Copenhagen (now the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Art, School of Design)

Vibeke Rohland is a textile artist. Her work lies in extension of a long international tradition where artistic work and commercial design nourish and inspire each other in an equal balance.

She mentions several role models or, as she puts it, colleagues whom she respects deeply, including Anni Albers (1899–1994), Sonia Delaunay (1885–1879), Eva Hesse (1936–1970), Hannah Ryggen (1894–1970), Agnes Martin (1912–2004) and Rosemarie Trockel (1952–).

Vibeke is disciplined and works many hours every day, whether or not she has a client, and whether or not she has an upcoming exhibition.

She not only alternates between artistic and commercial work, between sketches and finished designs or works, but also from narrative and wild to stringent and graphic.
The graphic expression has found its ultimate manifestation in her signature print PlusMinus; symbols that Vibeke has been twisting and turning since her return from Paris in 1993. The symbols appear individually or overlapping, so they form stars, most recently in the extravagant art book BlackStar 1-180, which she published in 2018 as the culmination of 15 years’ exploration of form and colour.

Vibeke’s working method is always analogue, based on hand tools, printing frames and pigments.

For sketching, her preferred tools are pencil, chalk, Indian ink and various types of paint.

She applies the colour in layers, which produces added depth. That is how it works with printing ink or paint. That is how it works with experience. Another year, another layer. With deep experience, one can handle any design task – not on one’s own but in collaboration with skilled craftspeople. ‘I would never dream of doing something myself that I am not an expert at. If I need a piece of wall fabric mounted, I contact someone with superior sewing skills. If my designs are to be used for a commercial purpose I need someone who can turn my hand-drawn, hand-painted sketches into a working drawing on the computer,’ she explains.

Vibeke lives and works in Gammelholm in central Copenhagen behind the Royal Danish Theatre. It is as close to Paris as Copenhagen gets, and Vibeke is the essence of ‘une Parisienne’: petite, cool and chic with a perfect, casual style; an artist with an intellectual approach.

Vibeke’s studio is close to where the family has lived for many, many years, and in order to put a bit of distance between one and the other, she goes round the block twice before she parks her bicycle and opens the door to her basement studio.

Vibeke speaks enthusiastically about everything her life as a textile artist has had to offer and, not least, continues to offer. In fact, it just keeps getting better and better, says Vibeke.

For close to 30 years, she has shared her life with the visual artist Claus Rohland, who is also the father of her two children, and even though she jokes that a good piece of advice for future generations of artists would be to make sure their partner has a steady income, she is clearly not complaining. ‘We are good at supporting each other and celebrating each other’s successes,’ she says. ‘And we have produced some really wonderful daughters, who are doing well. They never got anything for free,’ says Vibeke, ‘apart from social capital!’

The issue of social capital comes up again later, after Vibeke has told me numerous anecdotes from her life as a textile artist:

‘When I graduated from the Design School in Copenhagen in 1986, we went to Paris,’ she says. ’I was so fed up with hearing about all the things that weren’t possible. In Paris I encountered a world where everything was possible. There were so many specialized workshops and so many different collaboration constellations.’

‘I had applied for and received some grants and a flat, which enabled us to spend two years in the city. I was hand-painting fabrics for haute couture and furnishings at Eliakim Creation des Tissus. That was the first part of our stay in Paris.

Claus was painting, he shared a studio with a couple of French artists. During this first part of our stay in Paris he painted a portrait of Erik Mortensen. Several times a week he would show up at Mortensen’s place, and before the sitting, they would have lunch and continue their ongoing conversation about art. They enjoyed each other’s company.’

My eyes keep moving around the room, which is packed with earlier works, sketch books, graphic prints, paint brushes and other items. Systematically and decoratively organized on open shelves and bulletin boards.

‘Do you see the letter hanging there,’ says Vibeke, as she points. ‘That’s from Christian Lacroix. He launched his own fashion label in 1987. Claus and I gate-crashed his show posing as a reporter and a photographer. We had front-row seats and I was just lost in the beautiful hand-sewn and hand-painted dresses.
I can make fabrics like that, I thought, and he’s someone I want to get in touch with! I knew that if I simply sent him my samples, I would never hear back from him. So I went up to his studio and knocked on the door. An assistant turned me away at the door, but just as I was leaving he came out, curious to see what I wanted, and I handed him my samples. He thanked me and explained that he had already established a collaboration with another artist, but still, he kept my samples. In that letter, which he sent me afterwards, he thanked me for stopping by! That’s a neat thing to have,’ says Vibeke.

I think to myself that yes, it is neat indeed, and it is testimony to Vibeke’s plucky spirit.

‘After our two-year stay we went to Copenhagen for a time, where Claus had a solo exhibition. After that, we went back and forth between Copenhagen and Paris for some time. In the meantime, we had had children, and during our second prolonged stay we lived in this picturesque flat in a courtyard off Rue Faubourg Saint Antoine behind the Bastille. Back then, there were still little half-secret bistros, cafés and an old dancehall in the neighbourhood. It proved too difficult to live in Paris with young children when you weren’t stationed by a big corporation or otherwise had money from home, so we had to give that up.

The following year, Eliakim died of AIDS – so many people were lost during those years.’

‘When I returned to Copenhagen, I took part in several group exhibitions, and in 1994 I had a solo exhibition at Kunstforeningen Gl. Strand in Copenhagen. It was for that exhibition I began to work on PlusMinus. I called the exhibition “StandStills 1”. It was a sort of Paris Detox. There were a lot of flowers in Paris around that time, and I needed to put distance between myself and the life we, somewhat reluctantly, had to give up.’

The conversation flows easily, and I hear about her countless exhibitions and about collaborations with, among others, Agnes B, Bang & Olufsen, Esprit, Hay, FDB and Kvadrat, the latter with the ‘Squares’ collection.

‘I began to work on that pattern in 2005, it was released in 2008, and in 2017 a version in the original colourway was used in a Stan Smith sneakers collection for Adidas in a collaboration between my textile for Kvadrat and Adidas. I love that collaboration, everything has been perfected down to the last detail. It’s wonderful when someone uses your design; nothing beats the excitement of seeing it on the street where it takes on a life of its own.’

We return to the issue of social capital. I ask Vibeke if anyone in her family ever pointed her in the right direction and told how where to go?

‘No, as in, not at all,’ she says and adds, ‘and no one in Claus’s family either.

I grew up in Kollektivhuset (the Collective House) in Søborg. My mother was a bookkeeper, my dad sold typewriters and electric calculators. He originally trained at the furniture design studio FDB Møbler and had a friend who still worked there, so our flat was furnished with FDB furniture. That is the closest I got to the design industry as a child.

I would walk down the main street of Søborg wearing a kimono and Japanese tongs that my uncle, who had a Japanese wife, would send home as gifts for Christmas and birthdays.
Maybe I resemble my father a little, he was actually a little wild. He took a pilot’s licence, and in January 1968, he flew our family to Africa in a Cessna. The destination was the Ngorongoro craters in Tanzania. We got there eventually, with quite a few stops along the way.

On my mother’s side, on the other hand, they kept to the straight and narrow. That is, as an adult I discovered that my mother’s sister had been a very talented ceramicist, but for family reasons she had had to abandon that career to become a homecare provider. My maternal grandmother got into textile printing in her old age. I had a girlfriend whose father was an art teacher at the Bernadotte School, the school my friend attended. I loved visiting her at home and dreamed of transferring to her school, but that was out of the question.

My parents had an unwed friend who is still alive. She would take me to museums. When I was in upper secondary school she took me on a Grand Tour to London and Paris. In Paris we had snails, and she got queasy and had to lie down. Paris unfurled before my feet when I stepped out to explore the city on my own. There is always someone or something that shows you the way if you keep your eyes open.’

This spring, Vibeke will finish a series of large-scale works at the Danish Art Workshops in Copenhagen. Works that are intended for a large Danish exhibition and for several exhibitions in an international context. ‘I am at a stage in my career now, where I am even more concise and I see some connections that used to be more hazy and vague,’ says Vibeke. I have no doubt!

 

Facts:
‘Kollektivhuset’ was built in 1951 and contained 124 flats. The building was designed by the architects Hoff & Windinge and received an architectural award from Gladsaxe Municipality in 1952. The vision was to make everyday life as simple as possible for the residents by means of accessible communal facilities. At one end of the building there was a maternity clinic. At the other end there were flats varying from one to three rooms + a smaller bedroom. The building had a laundromat and also offered both a fee-based laundry service as well as cleaning service, from a weekly vacuuming to having a building employee do the washing up. Facilities also included a nursery school, an art studio, a fitness centre, function rooms, a restaurant and other services. The dining hall was furnished with Børge Mogensen designs and Aalto lamps.
Since then, the number of flats has increased to 136. To this day, the building has a common reception with a kiosk as well as function rooms, patios, meeting rooms, guest rooms and a restaurant. The building itself, along with the other buildings around the city square Søborg Torv, was classified as highly worthy of preservation in the municipal register in 1998.

En lille kvinde med store armbevægelser

Fakta:
Vibeke Rohland er 62 år
Hun har læst kunsthistorie på Københavns Universitet og er uddannet tekstilformgiver på Skolen for Brugskunst i København (nu (now the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Art, School of Design))

Vibeke Rohland er tekstilkunstner. Hendes virke ligger i forlængelse af en lang international tradition, hvor vekselvirkningen mellem kunstnerisk arbejde og arbejdet med kommercielt design eksisterer side om side, og i dyb afhængighed af hinanden.

Selv peger hun på forbilleder, eller som hun udtrykker sig, fagfæller, som hun har stor respekt for som Anni Albers (1899-1994), Sonia Delaunay (1885-1879), Eva Hesse (1936-1970), Hannah Ryggen (1894-1970), Agnes Martin (1912-2004) samt nulevende Rosemarie Trockel(1952-).

Vibeke arbejder disciplineret og mange timer hver dag, hvad enten hun har en kunde eller ej, og hvad enten hun har en udstilling i sigte eller ej.

Hun veksler ikke bare mellem kunstnerisk og kommercielt arbejde, mellem skitser og færdige design eller værker, men også mellem fabulerende og flagrende og stramt og grafisk.
Det grafiske har i sin ultimative form udmøntet sig i hendes signatur-print PlusMinus.

Symboler som Vibeke har vendt og drejet, siden hun i 1993 vendte tilbage fra Paris. Symbolerne fremstår enkeltvis eller lag på lag, forskudt som stjerner. Senest i en ekstravagant kunstbog, BlackStar 1-180, som hun udgav i 2018 som kulminationen på 15 års udforskning af form og farve.

Vibeke arbejder altid analogt. Med håndværktøj, trykrammer og farvepigment.

Når hun skitserer, er de foretrukne redskaber blyant, kridt, tusch og forskellige former for maling.

Farven lægges på lag på lag, det giver dybde. Sådan er det med trykfarven eller malingen. Sådan er det med erfaring. Hvert år er et nyt lag. Med dyb erfaring bliver man i stand til at løse en hvilken som helst designopgave, ikke alene, men i samarbejde med dygtige håndværkere. ”Jeg kunne aldrig drømme om selv at gøre noget, jeg ikke er bedst til. Skal jeg have monteret et stykke vægtekstil, går jeg til den, som kan sy perfekt. Skal mine design omsættes til noget kommercielt, behøver jeg én, som kan rentegne mine håndtegnede og håndmalede oplæg på computer,” fortæller Vibeke.

Hun bor og arbejder på Gammelholm bag Det Kgl. Teater. Tættere på Paris kommer man ikke i København, og Vibeke er indbegrebet af ’une Parisienne’; hun er petit, cool og chik på den helt rigtige, casual facon og kunstner på den intellektuelle måde.

Vibekes atelier ligger tæt på, hvor familien har boet i mange, mange år, og for at få lidt afstand mellem det ene og det andet cykler hun en ekstra runde omkring blokken, inden hun parkerer og åbner døren til sit kælderatelier. Kælder eller ej, der er højt til loftet i dobbelt betydning.

Vibeke fortæller begejstret om alt det, livet som tekstilkunstner har haft at byde på, og ikke mindst alt det, det stadig byder på. Det bliver faktisk bare bedre og bedre, siger Vibeke.

Hun har i snart 30 år delt sit liv med billedkunstneren Claus Rohland, som også er far til hendes to børn, og selvom om hun skælmsk siger, at et godt tip til kommende generationer af kunstnere kunne være at danne par med én med fast indtægt, så gør hun ingen hemmelighed ud af, at hun er ret godt tilfreds. ”Vi er gode til at støtte hinanden og til at glæde os på hinandens vegne,” siger hun, ”og vi har lavet nogle virkelig gode døtre, som klarer sig godt. De har ikke fået noget forærende,” siger Vibeke, ”altså ud over social kapital.”

Det med den sociale kapital taler vi videre om, da Vibeke i en times tid har fortalt mig talrige anekdoter om sit liv som tekstilkunstner:

”Da jeg blev færdig på Designskolen i København i 1986, tog vi til Paris,” fortæller hun. ”Jeg var så træt af at høre om alt det, som ikke kunne lade sig gøre. I Paris mødte jeg en verden, hvor alt kunne lade sig gøre. Der var så mange specialværksteder og så mange forskellige samarbejdskonstellationer.”

”Jeg havde søgt og fået legater, og en legatbolig muliggjorde, at vi kunne opholde os i byen i to år. Jeg arbejdede med at håndmale stoffer til haute couture og interiør hos Eliakim Creation des Tissus. Det var første periode i Paris.

Claus malede, han delte atelier med et par franske kunstnere. I vores anden periode malede han et portræt af Erik Mortensen. Flere gange om ugen mødte han op først til frokost hos Mortensen og til en fortløbende samtale om kunst, dernæst en sitting. De kunne lide hinandens selskab.”

Mine øjne flytter sig sultent rundt i lokalet, som er spækket med tidligere arbejder, skitsebøger, grafiske print, pensler og andet. Systematisk og dekorativt arkiveret på åbne hylder og opslagstavler.

”Kan du se det brev, som hænger dér,” siger Vibeke og peger. ”Det er fra Christian Lacroix. Han åbnede eget modehus i 1987. Claus og jeg gatecrashede hans show under påskud af at være henholdsvis journalist og fotograf. Vi fik de bedste pladser, og jeg var helt væk i de smukke håndsyede og håndmalede kjoler.
Sådanne tekstiler kan jeg også lave, tænkte jeg, og ham vil jeg i kontakt med! Jeg vidste, at sendte jeg bare mine prøver afsted, så ville jeg aldrig høre tilbage. Jeg gik derfor til hans atelier og bankede på. Jeg blev afvist i døren af en assistent, men netop da jeg skulle til at gå, kom han selv nysgerrigt frem og fik mine prøver. Han takkede og forklarede, at han jo allerede havde et etableret samarbejde med en anden kunstner, men beholdt alligevel mine prøver. I det dér brev, som han efterfølgende sendte, takkede han mig for at komme forbi! Det er jo lidt sjovt at have,” siger Vibeke.

”Efter de to år var vi en periode tilbage i København, hvor Claus havde en separatudstilling. Så var vi lidt frem og tilbage mellem København og Paris. Vi havde i mellemtiden fået børn og forsøgte os i anden omgang med at bo i en pittoresk baggårdslejlighed på Rue Faubourg Saint Antoine bag Bastillen. Dengang var der stadig små hengemte spisesteder, cafeer og en gammel dansehal i kvarteret. Det viste sig at være for svært at være i Paris med små børn, når man ikke var udsendt af et stort firma eller på anden måde havde penge med hjemmefra, det måtte vi opgive.

Året efter døde Eliakim af AIDS – der var mange, som forsvandt i de år.”

øverst og nederst til højre, Statens Værksteder for Kunst

”Da jeg kom tilbage til København, var jeg med på flere gruppeudstillinger, og i 1994 fik jeg en soloudstilling på Kunstforeningen Gl. Strand i København. Det var til den, jeg begyndte at arbejde med PlusMinus. Jeg kaldte udstillingen for ’StandStills 1’. Det var en slags Paris Detox. Der var mange blomster i Paris i de år, og jeg havde behov for at lægge afstand til det, vi lidt modstræbende havde måttet forlade”.

Samtalen flyder, og jeg hører om hendes talrige udstillinger og om samarbejder med blandt andre Agnes B, B&O, Esprit, Hay, FDB og Kvadrat, sidstnævnte med kollektionen ’Squares’.

”Mønstret begyndte jeg at arbejde på i 2005, det udkom i 2008, og i 2017 endte det i den oprindelige farvestilling på en Stan Smith sneakers-kollektion hos Adidas i et samarbejde mellem mit tekstil for Kvadrat og Adidas. Jeg er vildt glad for det samarbejde, alt er gennemført til mindste detalje. Det er fantastisk, når ens design bliver brugt, der er ikke meget, som overgår glæden ved at møde det ude i byen, hvor det har sit eget liv.”

Vi vender tilbage til det med den sociale kapital. Jeg spørger Vibeke, om der er nogen i hendes familie, som har peget med hele hånden og vist hende vej?

”Nej, som i slet ikke,” siger hun, ”og heller ikke nogen i Claus’ familie.

Jeg er vokset op i Kollektivhuset i Søborg. Min mor var bogholder, min far solgte skrive- og regnemaskiner. Han var i sin tid uddannet hos FDB Møbler og havde en ven, som stadig arbejdede dér. Derfor var lejligheden møbleret med FDB-møbler. Det er det tætteste, jeg i min barndom kom på designbranchen.

Selv gik jeg rundt på Søborg Hovedgade iført kimono og japanske klipklap-tøfler, som min morbror, som var japansk gift, sendte hjem som gaver til jul og fødselsdage.
Måske ligner jeg nok min far lidt, han var i virkeligheden ret vild. Han tog flycertifikat, og i januar 1968 fløj familien til Afrika i en Cessna. Målet var Ngorongoro-kraterne i Tanzania. Vi kom frem med en del mellemlandinger undervejs.

På min mors side derimod var der ingen vildskab. Det vil sige, at senere i mit voksenliv fandt jeg ud af, at min moster havde været en endog meget dygtig keramiker, blot havde hun af familiære årsager måtte opgive den karriere til fordel for at blive hjemmehjælper. Min mormor lavede stoftryk på sine gamle dage. Jeg havde en veninde, hvis far var formningslærer på Bernadotteskolen, og min veninde gik i skole dér. Jeg elskede at komme i det hjem og drømte om at få lov til at skifte skole, men det kom ikke på tale.

Mine forældre havde en ugift veninde, som stadig lever. Hende gik jeg på museum med. Da jeg gik i gymnasiet, tog hun mig på dannelsesrejse til både London og Paris. I Paris skulle vi spise snegle, og så blev hun syg og måtte lægge sig. Paris åbnede sig for mine fødder, da jeg trådte ud på egne eventyr. Der er altid nogen eller noget, som viser retning, hvis man lukker øjnene op.”

I dette forår afslutter Vibeke en række store arbejder på Statens Værksteder for Kunst i København. Værker, som er tiltænkt både en større dansk udstilling og flere udstillinger i international sammenhæng. ”Jeg er nået til et stadie i mit arbejdsliv, hvor jeg er endnu mere klar og ser nogle sammenhænge, der tidligere var mere tågede og usikre,” afslutter Vibeke. Og det tror jeg på!

 

 

Fakta:
’Kollektivhuset’ blev opført i 1951 og indeholdt 124 lejligheder. Huset, som blev tegnet af arkitekterne Hoff & Windinge, er præmieret af Gladsaxe Kommune i 1952 som særligt vellykket byggeri. Visionen var at gøre hverdagen så nem som mulig for beboerne ved hjælp af fælles og let tilgængelige faciliteter. I den ene fløj af huset var der fødeklinik. I den anden del var der indrettet lejligheder af forskellig størrelse fra 1-3 værelser + kammer. Der var fællesvaskeri, man kunne også betale sig fra at få vasket, ligesom man kunne betale sig fra rengøring, hvad enten man kun ønskede hjælp til en ugentlig støvsugning eller tillige ønskede, at en af husets ansatte skulle klare opvasken. Der var daginstitution, atelier, motionsrum, selskabslokaler, restaurant m.m. knyttet til huset. Spisesalen var indrettet med Børge Mogensen-møbler og Aalto-lamper.
Siden er antallet af lejligheder vokset til 136. Den dag i dag er der en fælles reception med kiosk, der er selskabslokaler, terrasser, mødelokaler, gæsteværelser og restaurant. Selve bygningen, ligesom de øvrige byggerier omkring Søborg Torv, fik tildelt høj bevaringsværdi i kommuneatlasset i 1998.

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