Charlotte bøgh

Charlotte Bøgh i værkstedet. Foto: Lars Wahl 2019.


For Charlotte Bøgh figuration
and abstraction goes hand in hand

There are many artists who work with both an abstract and a figurative expression; the two are no longer mutually exclusive in our days. There may be times when the close depiction of reality is deemed important, while at other times, it is replaced by a need to express inner sensations with no set physical form.


With Charlotte Bøgh, however, it’s different. In her art, one senses a clear connection between the non-figurative and the figurative. 

As a graphic designer and illustrator, Charlotte Bøgh has developed a precise and naturalist line. She knows how to create a convincing and spot-on composition. This talent came to its full potential in what would become her main area of interest: animal paintings, first the large primates, since the even larger beings of the savannah, the elefant and the rhino. 

With these paintings, Charlotte Bøgh has taken a step away from naturalism. We can recognize the inidividual animals, but it is never a photographic depiction. The contours are sketched with fast and confident strokes, so that the rhino becomes rhino-like and the long-armed body of the orangutan takes form at once.


But the surroundings are anything but naturalist. Details are implied but otherwise the frame is filled with planes of color, which not only express the palette of the place, but which take on a compositional value of their own. This expressive semi-transparent color haze, which surrounds the motif like a membrane, also serves to indicate the base tone of the painting, its degree of sympathy and identification with the animal. 

Because we’re left in no doubt about the love that Charlotte Bøgh shares for these animals. By abandoning the objective depiction for the expressive approach, we gain both a more artistic and a more personal interpretation of the motif. 


Something we feel with particular strength in her paintings of primates. Here, we sense the character of the individual animal to such an extent that it is as if we are observing a human being.


It is therefore no big leap to the paintings of torsoes and female portraits that Charlotte Bøgh has always worked with. The torso is often represented on the limit of the recognizable, as a wave of rythmically flowing energy, at once elegant and vulnerable, at once powerful and hesitant. In the portraits, we likewise sense an emotional depth in faces that are either lost in inner sentiments or that appear inquisitive in a strange and unforgiving world. 


Lastly, Charlotte Bøgh has periodically made landscape portraits. Landscapes without a concrete motif but with the sense of nature, its rhythm and its soul, that exists in abundance in her other works. We thus cannot speak of a progression from naturalism to abstraction or vice versa. With Charlotte Bøgh, abstraction and figuration go hand in hand. 

Text: Tom Jørgensen, art historian - from the book ‘101 Kunstnere 2010’ (translation: Rune Overby)


UK For me, painting animals is a story about the encounter between human and animal – between culture and nature.
By sitting face to face with animals for hours and days, I slowly remove myself from what I think they are, and towards what I experience them to be, here and now. This is my true ambition: Not to make ‘good’ paintings, but to be present and to see. To detect a subtle movement, a particular expression, a mutual relation between animals, their weight and their lightness, their calm, their rest, their strength, their energy – their whole essence.

DK At male dyr er for mig en fortælling om mødet mellem menneske og dyr – kultur og natur. Ved at sidde foran dyrene i timer og dage bevæger jeg mig langsomt væk fra, hvad jeg tror de er, og hen imod som jeg oplever dem, her og nu. Det er dét, der er min egentlige ambition – ikke at male ’gode’ billeder, men at kunne være tilstede og at kunne se. Det kan være at opfange en særegen bevægelse, et helt specielt ansigtsudtryk, en indbyrdes relation dyrene imellem, deres tyngde eller lethed, deres ro, deres hvilen, deres styrke, deres energi – deres væsen.


Charlotte Bøgh, Veddinge Bakker. Foto: Lars Wahl 2019.