Nº 9
Week 39, 2014

For this weeks issue of Opaque Danish artist and illustrator Michael Rytz invites us for a caffeine induced chat about books, old paper and … trumpets.

Swedish painter Clara Gesang-Gottowt answers questions about beauty, painting and ‘the untitled’.

This weeks featured space is the Danish Another Space an artist run initiative combining curation and architecture.

– Scroll on!

Blowing trumpets with Michael Rytz

Category: Interview


Danish Michael Rytz (b. 1975) is a self-taught artist and illustrator.

Tugged away in a small flat under the roof in Copenhagen’s west side Rytz produces tons of drawings, books and zines.

– Opaque met him after he had been up drawing and chugging coffee all night.

By Erik Duckert
Photo by Martin Kurt Haglund

The floorboards of the attic apartment squeak and the whole flat tilts noticeably to one side creating a slightly cartoonish atmosphere in the space.

R: “It all began with these small sketch books. Before Facebook and Flicker there was this thing called Fotolog where I would connect with illustrators all over the world.”

Rytz tapped into an underground network of drawing and illustration, where the artists would fill out pages in each other’s sketch books – even draw on top of each other’s stuff – and send the books back and forth and round the world creating volumes of polycentric compilations.

R: “We would put our books in an envelope and mail them to each other to work on, even drawing on top of each others stuff which was kind of tough sometimes if you’d been working really hard on something just to have it molested … but that was how it was.

Then at one point the books started ‘getting lost in the mail’, typically when some renowned artist had contributed to them and they increased in value. That was kind of demotivating.”

Rytz still fills his books, just doesn’t mail them round much anymore.

R: “I just scored this new book. I’ve worked up a nice arrangement making my ‘work illustrations’ during the day – and then I have my books. I can spend weeks just filling books, typically at night when the family is sleeping.”

Pulls out one book after the other brimming with work.

R: “In the old days I would cut out some of my drawings from the books and sell them when I really needed money. I don’t anymore.”

We move round the flat, drawings everywhere: piles, bags even, of work and paper stashed everywhere.

R: “Some drawings can lay dormant for 4-5 years before I return to them – the only thing that finishes a drawing is if it is framed, I mean then you can’t get to it … but even then … this one for example, you see, the frame has broken so maybe I should work a bit more on that one now.”

R: “I have paper hundreds of years old, I just hoard what ever paper I can get my hands on.”

R: “I’ve never really had a plan with what I do, just work all over. People used to tell me to focus, focus, focus: to just do one thing in one particular way and stick to that.

But my work springs from chaos: from accidents or from when I’m just zoning out and notice some little piece of cardboard or some overlapping pieces of discarded paper that have fallen in just right way on the floor – that’s where inspiration strikes.”

Rytz doesn’t have a formal education and over the years his work has become an essential mode of expression for him.

R: “Let’s say I was a little boy whose parents couldn’t understand his language then I have this trumpet through which I can address my parents without having to explain anything. Whether statements are true, false, incoherent, wise or silly doesn’t even enter in to the category.

That is what all this is: this is my trumpet.”

Mailing with: Clara Gesang-Gottowt

Category: Q&A


All images courtesy of Clara Gesang-Gottowt, please check out her website for further info.

“In my painting process I learn how I want to live my life.”
– Clara Gesang-Gottowt

Born 1985 Swedish Clara Gesang-Gottowt earned her MFA from Royal Institute of Art in 2013.

We asked her about beauty, painting and ‘the untitled’ – she answered with vivaciousness.


Why is all your recent work ‘untitled’?

GESANG–GOTTOWT: “Words either have a strong impact or they are pointless and empty. I have a hard time finding one or a couple of words that reinforce or give another dimension to my paintings.

All my attempts to create titles seem either to hefty or to simple. When reading fiction I seldom remember the action afterwards, but I do have an exact memory of the mood in the book – I look at my paintings as these memories.”



G: “There is something decisive and exact about them, but they are moving and they change.”

G: “I want the paintings to touch the feelings and body of the viewer by awakening their own memories. That’s easier to accomplish without titles. When we remember things through body memories there are words included, but the memories of them are too blurred to be restored.

I see my paintings as narrative and think they are highly related to literature and words in themselves.”

What has painting taught you?

G: “In my painting process I learn how I want to live my life.

To make the work meaningful I must take risks, dare to take decisions and go on, even when I don´t feel for it.

Painting teaches me that there are no rules or recipes. Otherwise I have a big need to control and want things to go the way I’ve pictured them, but in the studio I know it doesn’t work that way. Those kinds of experiences I bring with me from the studio out in my everyday life.”


G: “To paint also teaches me to see my surroundings. Right now, being in an intense period of a painting process I see nature more sharp. To bike home from the studio at night, when it’s dark and misty becomes an extension of the painting process.”

G: “Painting is a catalyst for my life experiences. It comes up to the surface in the working process and I take it more serious when it arises there. I know that I need to be conscious and take care of whatever arises to make progress.”


G: “Painting teaches me to take things seriously. It also teaches me that it doesn’t have to be tough to reach a good result. Maybe the most important thing is that painting gives me security: whatever happens in my life I have something valuable that no one can take away from me.”

What role does beauty play in your work?

G: “I´m attached to beauty. Beauty has a capability to awaken my feelings and I seek emotional kicks.

Yesterday when I was standing outside the food shop a woman came out with two filled bags, and the bags we’re so beautiful when filled, hanging like weights from her arms.

It aroused something in me. It’s hard to make something beautiful with the intention to do so. Often it gets too polished and dead.”

G:” Beauty arises from presence or practical decisions. Earlier I tried to resist beauty. If a painting was beautiful I sullied it, for example by painting a big blob across it. In my ongoing work in the studio, for the forthcoming exhibitions my mantra is: ‘I´m not afraid of the beauty.'”

Could you elaborate on the significance of the unconscious in your work?

G: “With my paintings I want to explore new things. Not by chance, but through what I already know deep down. This knowledge which is hidden in control.

I often have the feeling that I can create a masterpiece, it´s all in me, but something is in the way: an obstruction made of consciousness.”



G: “The subconscious is for me to get hold of something within me. A knowledge I didn´t accumulate at Art College or through studying art history.”

G: “Sometimes I find that presence, that so called creative flow. To be in flow gives an enormous fulfilment. It’s like being one with the Universe. I also believe there’s something general human that comes to expression when one is in that state of mind.”

Featured space: Another Space

Category: Spaces


All photos courtesy of Another Space. For additional information and individual titles please visit their website here.

Lately artist run exhibition platforms have gained new momentum on the Scandinavian art scene.

The spaces come in different sizes, have different lifespans and at times very different ideological pursuits. Common for them all, though, is that they depend on the goodwill of artists ready to invest their time in creating alternatives to the commercial galleries and government institutions.

Artist run spaces can be difficult to spot when browsing mainstream media so in every issue of Opaque we’ll give a short presentation of a space that we think you should pay a visit to.

Another Space is a project space for art and architecture, initiated by curator Marte Danielsen Jølbo and architect Nicola Louise Markhus.

As a combined gallery, project space and shared office, Another Space will be a meeting place for spatial exploration, collaboration and discussion.

ANOTHER SPACE: “We wish to instigate immersions and critical approaches to the cross-disciplinary field and its potentials, through presenting and discussing current tendencies within art, architecture and society.”

AS: “As a non-profit working and exhibition space, we wish to enable experiment, research and reflections on artistic and architectural practices in a wider philosophical, theoretical, historical and social perspective.

Our curatorial approach is further based on concerns for spatiality, materiality, sensation, imagination and craftsmanship.”