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Ole Ahlberg

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Artwolfsen is, via Galerie Wolfsen, the main gallery for Ole Ahlberg, which is why we have the largest selection of his oil paintings, sculptures and giclée prints. Ole Ahlberg (born in 1949) has a unique profile in Danish contemporary art. In his technically well-executed clair obscur oil paintings the Tintin character has become known and loved for his surprising erotic experiences on the canvas of Ahlberg’s works. During the last few decades Ole Ahlberg has become internationally recognised for these paintings, which are characterised by their level of detail and artistic perfection as well as containing a strong contrast between the youth and innocence of the cartoon journalist and the scantily dressed women he is being portrayed with.

The cartoon character Tintin is the embodiment of goodness and purity, but in Ole Ahlberg’s art a different and less traditional side of the beloved character is revealed: a voyeur who either observes or, almost involuntarily, gets involved in various erotic situations. The contrast between the cartoon universe and the intriguing eroticism and nakedness entices the viewer and causes us to ask questions. Why does innocence find itself in these erotic situations? Did he get into them unintentionally? Did he deliberately pursue them? And what are we supposed to think about what we see? This is how Ole Ahlberg provokes us with his images while showcasing his equilibristic talent as an oil painter, who would be able to paint anything but chooses to paint Tintin. He uses difficult techniques necessary for his ultra-precise and realistic imagery and especially his paintings containing naked human bodies are almost like photographs. The lighting is of great importance when creating light and dark scenes. The Tintin paintings are often very dark and sinister, perhaps because the drama occurs in dimmed bedrooms, but also because Ole Ahlberg’s style is inspired by the great baroque masters of clair obscur. Ole Ahlberg’s artistic inspirations is firmly rooted in the Danish and international surrealism, but he adds his own twists and turns.

Not many artists display the patience and talent of Ole Ahlberg; he is in full control when he paints narrowly and precisely to the smallest detail. Nevertheless, Tintin appears perfectly cartoonish and genuinely awkward in the adult universe. Ahlberg is able to melt together two completely different worlds without making it contrived. It is as if Tintin has jumped straight from the pages of the comic books and into the paintings where he is faced with a lewd and unfamiliar world. Thus, the universe created by the artist is one that’s dominated by contrast: The purity and innocence of the untouchable Tintin, every mother-in-law’s dream, inserted into a sexual context where he suddenly becomes a man of flesh and blood who is allowed to follow his instincts surrounded by childhood symbols, such as toys or elements from the comic books (for example, the very phallic rocket). It is possible to see Ole Ahlberg’s paintings as a portrayal of puberty or temptation: The asexual young man being offered the opportunity to pick the forbidden fruit. This extraordinarily virtuous cartoon character is confronted with very real, carnal women dressed in lingerie. With great astonishment, perhaps even outright shock, Tintin gazes at this abundance with an expression, often taken from stories in real comic books, which reveals that he is a complete stranger to eroticism.