Walking through Nuuk Art Museum, you’ll find several works by Miki Jacobsen (born 1965).
In the small hallway in the middle of the building, there’s a large painting on the wall. It is painted in big and lightly flowing strokes. Acrylic on canvas. A mountain landscape in earthy colors with a blueish background. A snow covered mountain is rising in the middle.
From the side, there is a large red rock almost floating into the picture. It is pointy, creates imbalance, and thereby announces itself.
The art piece is called “Ruby II” and is from 2007. In the exhibition, there were to paintings – Ruby I and Ruby II. Ruby I continued in the landscape from where the red rock is floating in, in Ruby II. They were exhibited in 2007 at Nuuk Art Museum in an exhibition which name translates to “Internal Currents”.
Internal Currents was an exhibition by Miki Jacobsen and Camilla Nielsen (born 1972), where the two artists exhibited each their works which focused on the ‘inner currents and orbits of continuous change and vanity, which we experience in the material world and therefore also in our minds’.
Ruby I, the half of the Ruby duo which is not exhibited at Nuuk Art Museum, was painted over later, and is now seen at a local lawyer’s office, and thereby the work of art went through its own orbit of continuous change. “But I did save some of the art piece out on the edge” Miki Jacobsen says – Ruby I still lives underneath the new painting. Both paintings are imaged in the art- and culture magazine Neriusaaq 1, 2008.
Nuuk Art Museum’s painting Ruby II is not an image of a specific place – more like an internal landscape. Its outer world, which is expressed in the painting, is the red-ish stone, the ruby, which is floating in from the side. “The image was my commentary to whether or not it should be allowed to remove rubies from Greenland privately”, Miki Jacobsen says. The painting was painted, there was an ongoing debate about how five locals had gone out to get gemstones with small hammers, which Greenlanders have done for years. –They had been picked up by helicopters and were told to stay away from the area, even though everyone is allowed to pick up rocks from the nature, by law. An international company had reported the five locals’ expedition as having a commercial value.
The discussion about how Greenlanders couldn’t pick rocks but big non-Greenlandic businesses could make ‘test drillings’ for more than 10 years all the while taking home tons of material was the starting drive for my paintings, Miki Jacobsen says; both with giant red rubies in a mountain landscape.
Whales and Driftwood
In the hallway before the stairway to the upper floor, you will find “Arferit / Hvaler” (whales) from 1995 created from drift wood found in the islands outside Nuuk. The whales have the caudal up and are swimming towards the stairway.
The drift wood is cut around the edges, but the form was already there when he found the driftwood – the whales were already there.
The eye is a button found on the beach, and Miki Jacobsen has worked some ink into the wood and thereby created the dark and shiny color.
Miki Jacobsen has always loved working with wood because there aren’t many trees in Greenland, why it has a high value as a material. He has created other pieces of art from drift wood, but it always begins in the form that the wood hints through its form, which it delivers to him from its long journey from forests to Greenland’s coast.
www and Knut
When you walk upstairs you’ll find the painting “Nanu” from the 2000s. Just like with the paintings Ruby I & II, this painting has a direct reference to our society, which is expressed as this creature, which is placed in the middle of the painting. With its roaring, its sharp teeth, and aggressive posture, this bear almost turns into a mythical animal. The painting is made with acrylic paint, and Jacobsen has additionally used a textural product to create the thick fur on the creature.
During the first 10 years of this millennial, there was a polar bear named Knut from a zoo in Berlin which was very popular in the media – seen as a teddy bear or a pet that one could easily have at home. This is Jacobsens commentary to the media’s glorification of this polar bear, says Miki Jacobsen. “You have to pay close attention in the nature and overall, because these are professional killers, which is why I have made the teeth so huge”. Under the bear you can see a tiny fox and a seal in the painting, because the fox often follows the polar bear in hope to catch some of the polar bear leftovers from its seal hunt, Miki Jacobsen says.
At the top of the painting it says www.nanu.gl which used to be Miki Jacobsens website. He does this in other paintings as well, and it is a way for him to sign his paintings.
Signature and mixed culture
On the first floor of the building you will find the “Culture Fusion” pieces – two out of a foto montage of four. The other two montages are also at Nuuk Art Museum but are currently not exhibited. In one of the exhibited montages you will see that it says www.jacobsen.gl across the snow mobile – a website which is also no longer in use.
The photo montages were a part of the exhibition ‘The Red Snow Mobile’ at Nordatlantens Brygge in Copenhagen in 2005. An exhibition which attemted to put focus on Greenlandic contemporary art as something other than soap stone figures, tooth carvings, masques and more traditional expressions, which often is associated with Greenlandic art.
With the Culture Fusion series, Miki Jacobsen wanted to add a little bit of humor –even to the debate about global warming. It was also a commentary to the fact that Greenland today is a place of mixed culture. The photography in the photo montages are therefore mixed – the dogs are photographed in Ilulissat, the airplane is photographed in Sisimiut, the sky a third place and the little bird ‘probably in Nuuk’.
This piece received much attention in the media. “People contacted me to know if they could use it as illustration for articles about the modern Greenland”.
Today one can purchase a poster of Culture Fusion in the shop of Nuuk Art Museum.
You can experience the exhibition ‘Qaammatip Inua and other stories from Greenland’ throughout July and August at Nuuk Art Museum. Here, the original illustrations to the book of the same title are exhibited. They are water color paintings made by Miki Jacobsen.