Rune Christensen on His Paintings, Life, Settling Down & More

by Rubén Palma
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Rune Christensen (b. 1980), is a Danish artist, who’s work is deeply influenced by the dynamic experience of existence: the perpetual motion that leads to meaningful encounters between individuals, cultures, and societies, ultimately impacting all those involved. Driven by an insatiable wanderlust, Christensen creates his art while on his travels. His distinctive artistic expression is derived from a medley of impressions gathered from our diverse world. Within Christensen’s pieces, one finds an overwhelmingly vibrant fusion of scents, colors, gazes, and people—an amalgamation that reflects the richness of his life. Having showcased his work in numerous locations such as Denmark, Beirut, Sydney, London, and Almaty in Kazakhstan, his art transcends borders, much like the artist himself.

Text by Kristin Hjellegjerde

Hi Rune, it’s a pleasure to sit down with you! First question, that I always ask. How does a regular day look like for you in Horsens?

Wake up 5:00 am 
Coffee and jazz radio 
6:00 wake kids up 
7:00 am gym 
8:30 am – 3/3:30 pm 
3:00 pick up kids 
3:00 to 9:00 pm family 
9:00 bedtime 

I’m curious, growing up in Horsens, Denmark, what kind of kid were you? What did you enjoy doing and how did you spend your time?

I was always in motion. Skateboarding and playing football. The only time I was calm, was while drawing and listening to music in my room. Later on I combined my restlessness with drawing/painting. That’s when I discovered Graffiti in the early/mid 90’s. Horsens was great great place being a kid. It was a rough town, there’s were several empty factories that was turned into skate and graffiti squad houses by kids. 

These next couple of questions is going to feel like a timemachine. I think it would be cool for the readers to have a look at your timeline, to understand more about your background. I hope that’s cool.. Alright.. so at some point you end up living in Vancouver, what brought you there?

 I met my partner Kimberly while traveling in Egypt. She was living in Vancouver at the time, and after a few visits back and forth I moved there.

Gotya. So after Vancouver, if I’m not mistaken, you spend a couple of years living a nomadic lifestyle, constantly on the road. What’s the story there?

So me and Kim met while traveling, and we both wanted to see more of the world. We both got a job planting trees in Canada, and we saved a bunch of money, and went traveling. While traveling I was fortunate that I could send small canvas and paper works home to my Gallery in Denmark at the time. And then they would send me money. After 8 months we went back to Denmark shortly, so I could do a show, and then we went out again.

And then you end up in the Capital of Copenhagen. Where you settle down for a while right? What are some of your fondest memories from your time there?

Yeah I absolutely loved and still love Copenhagen. I lived in NV (Nordvest), and had my studio in the center of Nørrebro. I think summer fridays, day drinking, going to openings, swimming and biking around from bar to bar, and feeling like the day will never end. Not much beats a day like that in Copenhagen And clearly making friends for life there. 

Now back to present day! Where you have settled down with your kids and wife, in your hometown of Horsens. My question is… Having kids, has that affected your creativity in any way?

Very much. It’s forced me to be effective with my time for sure. But as an influence/inspiration in my work as well. My current solo show, “Wildflowers”, with Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, in Berlin, is about how it is for me, being a father to two girls.  

I’ve got some queations regarding your current solo show a little later in the interview. Right now im wondering how you got introduced to painting? And when you started taking being an artist seriously?

So, like all kids I was always drawing and painting. I just never stopped. I think getting into Grafitti was the major reason. Graffiti allowed me to paint in my teens. On top of that, my uncle and aunt are art collectors, and I was introduced early on to fine art through them, I guess.

Ok Rune. I know that you already mentioned graffiti. But I had this question prepared, so I might as well try to ask it. So.. Graffiti. Can you tell me a little bit about how that art-form has influenced your current work, and what your fondest memories from that period is?

I don’t think there is so much graffiti left in my work now. Though I think maybe the mentality/work ethic I have, comes from graffiti- to keep going, moving, producing. 

Let’s talk about your paintings now. You have a very distinctive and recognizable style. It reminds me of Japanese art. My question is: when did you start to develope it, and what is it about that look that appeals to you?

So like we talked about I did a lot of traveling. And I draw inspiration from places I visit, things I see there, colors, patterns, temples and so on. I’m not sure how you put a timeline to when something started. I think it started once I picked up a pencil the first time. 

With that in mind, can you tell me about your creative process? From initial idea to end result?

That’s something I don’t really know how to describe. I work on several paintings at the same time. Up to 20. Some get discarded in the process and I’m often surprised by the end result. I often have to backtrack to get to the core of what I’m doing. Things change, both ideas and narratives, the process of painting for 2-3 months or more in preparation for a show. I find that highly fascinating.

The various vases and animals, in your paintings. What’s the inspiration and meaning behind them?

I draw a lot of inspiration from both art history and history itself. I like diving into mythology and religious art from around the globe, I don’t think breaking it down to the core, of what I think it is for me, is as important as the viewer making their own narrative in the interaction with the work.

How about your use of symbolism. Can you tell me about that?

 See answer above 👆🏼 

Ok Rune. This is where I’ll ask about your current solo show. So.. it’s at Kristin Hjellegjerde, in her Berlin gallery. Your work for this show, feature women protagonists on horses. Can you tell me about the inspiration behind them?

It’s kinda of a visual manifestation of the fairytales I make up and tell my daughters. About fierce female characters who ride magical horses and save the day. 

The show is titled “Wildflowers”. How did you come up with that. What’s the backstory?

My Canadian family comes from a province in Canada called Alberta. It’s where the prairies meets the Rocky Mountains, and where people still live the cowboy way. The province is referred to as ” Wild Rose Country”. It’s a place where you have to be tough to survive, like a wildflower. A wildflower is something that grows in the most unlikely place. Can be on a mountain side, or in a ditch. But it grows strong and beautiful. The show circles around my daughters, and what it means to me to be a father for them. Hopes and dreams. I hope they become tough and independent, like wildflowers. 

What motivates you?

 Progress. The constant search and aim towards a goal, I know I will never reach. 

How do you deal with creative blocks?

Sit in a corner and cry 😂 No I paint through them. Along with breathing techniques and exercise. Luckily the last creative block was during winter – cold water swims helped a lot.

What do you hope that we, the observers take with us after viewing some of your pieces? And what are you aiming to convey?


How would you describe a perfect day?

Luckily, there are many different scenarios to the perfect day. I think it’s a combination of my family and nature.

Ok Rune. I always ask these two questions at the end of an interview. The first is. What’s your favorite movie(s) and why?

Pulp fiction. Cause it’s so damn good. 

The second is. What song(s) are you currently listening to the most right now?

I think cause it’s summer time. My current mode is more up 

1. “Mas que nada” by Jorge Ben Joe

2 “Looking for knives” by Dyan 

3 “Lundi” by Johan Papaconstantino  

I could continue as music plays a huge roll in my Daily life.

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