Lea Nielsen

Trine Rytter Andersen, 2013 

The art that wants to tell us something about the world and about life has always been preoccupied by the dialectics between advantage and disadvantage. As a result there are countless examples of art thatdeals with various contradictions such as ugly/beautiful, pleasant/sinister, safe/dangerous and so on. Within the ceramic discipline – and in the related porcelain tradition especially – there is a century-long tradition of narrative-figurative styling, which previously found its culmination in the voluminous baroque centrepieces and overly decorated dishes.

In today’s contemporary art there are many younger ceramic artists with a special interest in telling stories and in doing so they contribute to the reinterpretation and the relaunch of older formats.

Lea Nielsen is one of the young talents who use their knowledge of art history to challenge tradition.

In her remarkable graduation project from Aarhus Art Academy in 2012 – the art installation Space of abjection – Lea showed herself to be a persuasive talent. The staging of modified classical female busts was a strong commentary on the act of artistic staging and the contradictory dialectics, which come to expression in today’s advertisement-dominated world. The women were identical and beautiful as goddesses who adorn the front pages, but behind the silent facades they disclosed unpleasant deformities and conditions of illness and pathology. Lea Nielsen is fascinated by the abject: that, which we do not like, which we discard, forget and fear. With surplus energy and formal precision she proved that she masters the task both craft-wise and intellectually.

During her residency at Guldagergaard ceramical workshop, Lea Nielsen has recently completed the work Forvandlingsbilleder (Images of Metamorphosis). The work is a line of decorative and narrative dishes with 3-dimensional figures fitted on them and is Inspired by the so called ’plat menage’ from the Danish Royal Porcelain Factory. The main character in the narratives is a little girl who, like Little Red Riding Hood, meets animals that seem both threatening and alluring at the same time. The main trope is that of the transition from childhood to adulthood and the small fairy tale stories take place in that very second right before something important and crucial happens in the relation between animal and child. The expression is a mixture of the naïve and the naturalistic with strong, clear colours highlighting the childish innocence while at the same time rendering the objects a visual aspect like that of toys or crafts for kids.

The child’s encounter with the animal/nature works, psychologically speaking, like the classical fairy tale, but form-wise it leans rather heavily on classical illustration as well as on the more recent animation film and Manga tradition styles.

Lea Nielsen is a noteworthy new talent on the contemporary art scene and she undoubtedly has the talent to become a significant artist in the future.