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Hans Henrik Fischer

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THE MASTER OF UNEASE  

When artist Hans Henrik Fischer, born in 1978, so often paints children, it serves as a kind of symbolism, where the child is a figurative, realistic representation of the unspoiled. Children may be a symbol of something pure and innocent, which is “polluted”, corrupted and destroyed by growing up in our culture. Evil begins somewhere in the world – in a human being. If we removed humans from the Earth evil would disappear with us. Thus, his intense oil paintings show us the existence of evil and the threat to our children and, therefore, ourselves. He is not afraid of being macabre – that is how the world is. Considering that Hans Henrik Fischer is self-taught, it is remarkable that, in terms of technique, his role models are painters like Rembrandt. He is inspired by the classic painting technique using light and dark, shadows, etc. The light in Rembrandts paintings is amazing and the subtle, often saturated, calm colours are exactly what Hans Henrik likes working with because they provide a contrast in the form of purity and a natural feel opposite the often frightening images.  

What is going on in Hans Henrik Fischer’s works? At first glance it may appear innocent – the children’s big eyes beautifully reflecting the light. However, darkness is just around the corner. The children look at us, confronting us, as if they are saying: “Look at what I am being exposed to” – that is how horrible and twisted the world is. We feel repulsed, not least by the creatures often creeping out of holes and cracks in eyes and skin – and we are shocked by the juxtaposition of childish innocence and morbid horror. It nauseates us and draws us in. And that is very deliberate. Hans Henrik wants to evoke conflicting emotions in us. You need to feel the unpleasantness (”das unheimliche”) in the contrast between innocence and childhood and the crazy, creepy adult world.

In one series of paintings he uses the effect of toys as a contrast to the children, who can seem like little adults – here, even items from the children’s rooms are scary. We must be puzzled and repulsed and ask ourselves “why on earth would an artist produce such paintings?” Yes, why? Because he wants to show us something about the world we have created for our children, and for ourselves. He has received a lot of criticism for his morbid paintings, at art fairs and on Facebook, claiming they are too much, too disgusting. Because the images portray children, they are very hard for people to take, emotionally. “It is hard when it comes to children”, Hans Henrik says. It reaches something very deep inside of us, and it is an effective symbol for what he wants to get through to us. It evokes strong emotions, which the viewer has to come to terms with, and not everyone is able to do that. Hans Henrik Fischer is very sought after in his home country and his large, loyal audience means his works often have waiting lists. He is clearly spot on when it comes to the experience familiar to most people: Innocence is being corrupted and evil is lurking right behind that innocence. With his exceptional technical skill, he makes the children look at us with eyes that say “there is something wrong here, and you need to see it.”