The celebrated artist Mikael B makes long-awaited return home to Denmark for his third solo show: The evolution of everything
an interview by Mona Lisa Abramovich
We've had a talk to Mikael B about his home-coming to Denmark later this month and his creative drive serving as a base for his solo show The Evolution of Everything, opening in Copenhagen on October 21st.
In regards to your current exhibition THE EVOLUTION OF EVERYTHING at The Plant in Copenhagen, from where is your drive generated?
One of the best feelings I know is when I prove to myself that I am way better than I think I am. That’s such a rush - it’s the feeling that everything is possible. I’m on a journey to become the 100% version of myself. In order to not only pursue your true potential but to actually unleash it, you have to get very uncomfortable and do extremely hard things. Often. Even when you’re not motivated you still show up and put in the work. It’s discipline and it will take you to another level of your potential - unleashing the 100% version of you. Doing exactly that is the greatest opportunity to grow and that is my infinite source of inspiration. An inspiration that fuels my mind and body every day and I must express that in a visual way. It’s an obsession.
“The Evolution of Everything” is the manifestation of the simple but yet mind-blowing idea that everything starts with nothing and your potential is endless.
What has pushed your project forward, and how did you invent the concept to begin with?
My will to perform at the highest level and get better everyday. My work ethic, discipline and the ability to stay positive no matter what, are the reasons why I was able to make it in LA in the first place. That energy, passion and drive hasn’t changed quite the contrary in fact. Being on this journey pushing myself to extreme levels gives me a flow of visions and ideas. I’m in balance with my intuition and trust and listen to my intuition more than anything else. Everything starts with nothing and that’s how it started and it blew my mind the more I thought about it. As I was digesting this early idea, I slowly realized it had the potential to be more than just a series of paintings and even more than an exhibition. But a whole concept, like a journey into the unknown.
Everything starts with nothing just like my upcoming exhibition The Evolution Of Everything. No idea comes fully formed, but I felt the power of this idea early on. I remember the first time when I told my twin brother/business partner about it and I got the chills through my whole body.
It grew in my head slowly and it’s still growing. The Evolution Of Everything will start with my solo exhibition in Denmark and then continue to evolve in Miami at the Context art fair.
What is your preferred medium and why?
I used a spray can for the first time 22 years ago. And it was love at first sight just like I fell in love with wildstyle graffiti. Everything I had in my mind I could freely express with a spray can, the swinging, the bending, powerful colors, large scale murals and so on. When I became a full time artist 8 years ago and started my studio practice I have since experimented more and more with other mediums and substrates. Everything from acrylic, oil, chalk, polyurethane and bronze. Over the years I invented my own mix of water based and alcohol based paint which are some of the main components of my signature style.
Spray paint and acrylic are my preferred media now. I keep experimenting and who knows what the future brings.
Do you work with a project-minded approach, or does the themes of your work evolve in a more dynamic way?
It’s a combination of both. Let me give you an example. I have so many ideas in my head, that even if I stop getting ideas tomorrow I would still have enough ideas for several lifetimes to come. That’s the dynamic of it, the dynamic of how my brain works - I see possibilities in everything and I’m inspired by everything. Good things, bad things, success, struggles and hardships - I’m thankful for all of it and I use it all for inspiration to create and to express myself in a visual way. However I’m also very structured which is crucial to kind of manage all my ideas and to choose what to work on can be challenging, which is why that part of the process is more project minded. I usually execute on several ideas at the same time and instead of doing a piece here and there I create series or realms. That allows me to explore my ideas into depth and that will create new ideas. It’s an infinite process.
Are your works pre-thought or do they emerge on their own?
Both. I have two different art styles, a surreal geometric style and an abstract style. It allows me to be completely free and switch in between two completely different approaches and methods. But when I first started all my works were pre-thought. But then slowly I divided everything I was trying to do in one canvas into two different art styles. One representing geometric abstraction that requires a lot of planning and preparatory drawings, where I know the end result before I start. And the other is way more abstract with little to no planning - here I am creating unexpected results. Working with these two completely different styles ultimately makes me feel free. And that’s why I became an artist in the first place, to feel free.
If your works are pre-thought, how do you choose how to depict them?
I follow my intuition.
What do you believe is a key element in creating a good composition?
A lot of experience, a lot of trying, a lot experimenting and drawing. But even more important, intuition. If you can learn to use and trust your intuition, and that goes for all matters in life, you will get access to infinite resources.
If you should mention an artist(s) - music, science, art in all its magnitude - that influence your work/draws your attention, who would it be and why?
Music plays a huge role when I create. It helps me to get in a non-thinking state of mind, flow state. Danish musician Be Svendsen I listen to a lot. But also PAAX(Tulum), Matizze, Valeron and Deadmau5.
I don’t think I’m supposed to say this yet, haha but I’m actually working on a special collaboration with Deadmau5. The first piece of the project will be unveiled at the exhibition in Copenhagen on Oct. 21st. And then stay tuned for something special in Miami.