Maria Wæhrens, Painter

December 1, 2020 – early 2021

This year’s advent calendar exhibition at The Vejen Art Museum flows in colour, line, canvas and paper quite a way out of the customary frame. A whole universe of stories and meaning grow out from behind, beside and in front of the hanging works, created here by Maria Wæhrens in the weeks leading up to the step-by-step opening of the exhibition from the December 1 through to the December 26, 2020.

Maria Wæhren’s guest contribution to the spring 2019 exhibition of the artists’ association ‘Coloristerne’ (The Colourists) at Den Frie (The Independent Exhibition) in Copenhagen was entitled ‘Tillid‘ (Confidence). This was a signature total installation by the artist, combining individual paintings, spontaneous painting on the rear wall, and objects and physical manifestations occupying the surrounding space. Maria Wæhrens will employ a similar approach when installing her exhibition at The Vejen Art Museum. Maria Wæhrens is photographed here by Anne Marie Dreves during preparations for the exhibition ‘Ud af mor’ (Out of Mother) at The National Workshop for Arts and Crafts (Statens Værksteder, Gl. Dok,) in Copenhagen in 2017.

As a young girl, Maria Wæhrens once had a dream that told her she should be a painter, and although the results were not pretty, she has painted ever since. She grew up just outside the north west coastal town of Hirtshals in Jutland with a grandmother who was a prolific painter and who loved to tell at length and in detail about all the religious pictures in her home.

As a child, Maria Wæhrens never painted, because the results were too ugly. Only rarely, when a teacher in kindergarten or at school said that all the children should paint, did she do as she was told. Maybe as a result, she can remember every single picture she produced: a few pencil or brush strokes in the corner of the paper became a flower. She got gripped by the way they turned into a flower, so she continued. Very soon she discovered to her horror that the flower had spread over the whole sheet of paper – extraordinarily ugly! She did not paint again until she was required to. And then at the age of 13 came her dream.

Maria Wæhrens’ exhibition ‘Ud af mor’ (Out of Mother) in Møstings Hus in Frederiksberg in 2017 marked her decisive break-through in reaching a wide public.

During a period at a continuation school in Aarhus, Maria Wæhrens made small linocuts illustrating the poetical speeches of Chief Seattle about taking care of nature. The following year she stayed with an uncle in Ecuador. Then when she was 20, she burnt all her diaries, paintings and drawings. Since then, she has sought out – and found – her own expression through pictures in which feelings, dreams, memories and the experience of momentary tensions among people she has come close to are transformed into paintings packed with meaning and stories.

Maria Wæhrens was born in 1976. She was enrolled at The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts; she was a student at The School of Painting on Kongens Nytorv under the tutelage of Professor Ursula Reuter Christiansen. The Vejen Art Museum hosted an extensive solo exhibition of the latter’s expressive universe in the year 2000 in collaboration with Lene Burkard, Brandts Museum of Art in Odense.

Advent Calendar Exhibitions

Every year since 1995 The Vejen Art Museum has invited a contemporary artist inside the buildings to create the now traditional ‘Advent Calendar Exhibition’. The primary target is school pupils of all ages. Each day the works are revealed, one by one, when sculptor Sophus Ejler Jensen, the museum guide, unfolds the work of the day together with the enrolled groups. In this way, hundreds of children and young people experience contemporary art during the days leading up to Christmas. The whole and complete exhibition can be seen from December 26.

In the exhibition ‘Out of Mother’ in 2017, Maria Wæhrens expressed her curiosity as to materials and physical tangibility in room after room. The plastic on the floor is an instance of this tangibility, and the central painting moves in several states between painting and sculpture. This is the artist’s usual interest and preoccupation with exploring all possibilities.