Laust Højgaard Talks About his Paintings, Getting Discovered & More

by Rubén Palma
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Laust Højgaard is a renowned Danish artist with a degree from the Design Academy Odense, as well as a Bachelor in Visual Communication, from the Danish school of Media and journalism. He has worked 10+ years as an Art Director in advertising and at Vice Magazine. In 2020 he decided to focus full time on his art, and in just a little over 2 years he has managed to gain worldwide recognition for his unique figurative style, which he applies directly on the canvas from imagination. His works are sold before completion, and is exhibited and collected all over the world.

Laust himself, describes his work like the following: “A distorted version of reality I guess. I’m really fascinated with messing up real life situations or personalities and change them into something that either enhances what is already there or add more layers to create tension. To hit the right balance it needs to feel like you are looking at something that gives you the same feeling as when looking at a real person(s), but in a surreal and quirky version of reality. 70% real, 10% Chris Cunningham, 10% Ninja Turtles Cartoon and 10% unknown. Im inspired by both pop culture, subculture and daily life. On the visual side I work a lot with these organic shapes and how they can work together as graphic elements. I mainly work with acrylics with several different styles and techniques. Both brushes, airbrush, painter spatulas etc.”

Party Animals, 2022, Acrylic and phosphorescent paint on canvas 70x50cm

Hi Laust! Thank you for sitting down with me. First question. Where are you from originally and what is your happiest childhood memmory?

When I was small we lived in Lesotho and then Norway, until we moved more permanently to Denmark. I remember I cried of happiness the day I was told that we were going to the movies to watch The Lion King.

How does a regular day look like for you in Svendborg, Denmark? 

I go to the studio every morning and start working as soon as I arrive if possible. The earliest hours is the best ones for me, and I like to work on multiple paintings at the same time. 

Acrylic on linen, 50x70cm, 2022

When did you start to draw and paint? And at what point did you realize that you wanted to become an artist?

I started at the same time as most kids do. I guess I just did it more than others, and I didn’t stop when they did. I don’t feel like I ever made the choice of becoming an artist, but I always knew I wanted to go in a creative and visual direction of some sort.

It’s easy to spot a Laust Højgaard painting because of your unique painting style, with the oddly shaped characters. Talk to me a little bit about how they came to be.

I’ve been working with classical drawing, 3D modeling, croquis, animation and graphic design. I think this is just how it all melted together 😅

Party Boy, Acrylic and phosphorescent paint on linen, 50x70cm

Who are those characters? And where do you find inspiration for them?

Most times they just start as spontaneous shapes on the canvas that slowly morphs into characters and creatures with quirky personalities belonging to no certain gender, race or ethnicity. I use cultural references, but it’s mainly things associated with my childhood, or things I stumble upon that I find interesting.

What do you hope that we, the observers get out of you paintings?

What I aim for myself is creating something that is both quirky and dark at the same time. It’s not my goal to create something beautiful, but rather something interesting.

You have been getting a lot of attention and recognition from galleries and collectors all over the world. Do you remember which of your works that made you noticed outside of Denmark? And what was that feeling like?

I made a piece with two creatures on the streets making out. It got a lot of attention and I guess that was the beginning of having galleries and curators contacting me. When they started sharing and showing my work the collectors followed. It was weird because it was all happening on Instagram to start with, which felt quite distant. 

BFFs, 2022, Acrylic and phosphorescent paint on canvas, 70x50cm

Who or what in your life has inspired you the most?

Impossible to mention one particular thing, but when I saw the work of Christian Rex van Minnen for the first time, I was blown away so hard.

What song do you listen to the most atm?

Right now, “Age of Anxiety”.

What’s your favorite movie and why?

“It follows”. So much hopelessness and I just love that 😅

For more information about Laust, check out his Instagram.

Images courtesy of NBB Gallery.

Angler, 2022, Acrylic on canvas 70×50cm
Bestiezz, Acrylic and phosphorescent paint on canvas, 70×50cm
Gym King, 2022, Acrylic and phosphorescent paint on canvas, 70x50cm
Saggy, 2022 Acrylic on linen, 70x50cm
Mistress, Acrylic on canvas, 60x80cm, 2022
Acrylic on linen, 100x150cm, 2022
Pearl Rider, Acrylic on linen, 100x100cm
Acrylic on linen, 100x100cm, 2022
Acrylic on linen, 100 x 100cm, 2022
90 x 120, Acrylic on linen, 2022

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