Combining autobiography with neuroscience, personal experiences with social inquiry, Mille Kalsmose creates artworks that resonate on many levels. She has worked with a wide range of materials, but with her latest works, she reaches a new peak of creativity. These works appear as individual sculptures, independent forms that can be appreciated for purely aesthetic reasons. But each one tells a story about family and society, about the creation of identity within a social framework. These are tales that can be appreciated by audiences from a vast variety of cultural backgrounds. Kalsmose has achieved a perfect balance in her work between the universal and the individual. It is impossible to view her works without discovering an element of identification. This makes the experience inescapably emotional and personal, defying cultural boundaries. That is quite an achievement for an artist and for this alone, her artworks deserve widespread appreciation.
Author and Freelance art critic in The New York Times, Vanity Fair, Art News ans Art in America.
Mille Kalsmose is a Danish-born artist who is based in both New York and Copenhagen. Her work spans the gamut from images to sculptural pieces and installation works. Giving shape and materialising what is invisible to the eye is both an indispensible desire and a driving force in Mille Kalsmose’s work. With focussed attention, she is exploring memory, identity, psychological mechanisms, and spiritual life conceptions.
From a personal point of view, and often based on her own life experience, Kalsmose’s work could be characterized as a series of survival kits for navigating through the external world and its structures, as well as being introspective investigations. The meditative journey is key to Kalsmose’s inspiration. Our role in life cycles, our desire and especially our inability to control or restrain our life paths are questions that flow through Kalsmose’s works. How can we steer our lives? What do family relations mean? What are the most prudent guidelines in terms of living a harmonious and complete life? – These are existential questions, which have nurtured the spiritual aspects in Kalsmose’s personal quest and in her artistic work. Her personal terrain is a starting point, but her works constitute a kind of opening to a metaphysical understanding of human existence and its place in the world. Psychology, the life wisdom of the East, and science, as well, all take part in Kalsmose’s continuing explorations of the inner life and our relation to our surroundings. Shamanism, sound healing, and chanting are examples of Kalsmose’s spiritual grounding.
Kalsmose presents us with works that possess a strong tactile appearance. She often combines materials with opposing qualities, such as brass and paper or metal and silk, accordingly creating a sensual tension that reflects the intense and vulnerable topics in question. Kalsmose’s choice of materials spans widely, from ready-mades to animal skins, algae and clay. Metal is, however, a favourite and recurring material, largely due to its solid and persistent quality, whether shaped in the form of thin metal legs, as a brass grid, or as a large black vessel. She transforms immaterial phenomena, emotional conceptions, and suggestive concepts into tangible manifestations, often characterized by having an evocative nature. Recognizable elements that seem to resemble everyday objects are rendered abstract or are twisted towards representing a more poetic or existential content. Whether they are industrial or minimal in their expression, the components of Kalsmose’s works resonate a symbolic meaning and an in-depth search for life wisdom.
Art Historian & Curator
Aukje Lepoutre Ravn
Ole Fogh Kirkeby
Julie Horne Møller