Ann Lundén Jacoby


The Long Journey

By Tom Jørgensen, editor of Kunstavisen

'The Long Journey'. About Ann Lundén Jacoby’s paintings

Ann Lundén Jacoby’s art is, to an unusual degree, closely connected with her individual development and her personal experiences. Her paintings are not dominated by aesthetic or theoretical considerations; they are the result of an inner necessity where colours and forms originate in existential choices. You find her ideals in painters like Edvard Munch, L.A. Ring and Edward Hopper, all of whom work with a figurative visual language dominated by intense psychic emotions, oscillating from an inscrutable melancholia to the strongest of passions.
What you first of all come to think of when looking at Jacoby’s paintings is the basically Nordic feeling. Even when she finds her motifs at humble places such as the local urban train station or the elevated railway, her pictures are pervaded with a non-Danish pathos of glowing sunset skies, melancholical shadows and a sinking feeling of emptiness and desolation. It probably is unprovable, but I believe it has to do with Denmark lying so much further south than Norway, Sweden or Finland. We do not have the dark coniferous forests and the great, deserted and wide open landscapes that you find in these countries.
Ann Lundén Jacoby often works in series. Series closely connected with her psychological condition since she never concealed the fact that her career as an artist was the result of a deep depression at a mature age. Step by step, the artist paints herself out of the darkness of depression in what reminds of a purification process. The development was chacterised by Jacoby starting with the deep, inner motifs, events from her childhood and adult life, unspoken dreams, hopes and a permanently gnawing doubt.
In three extraordinary paintings, the series ’The Moose Child’ from 2002 deals with the artist’s own dramatic birth: symbolically/mythologically, it describes how a moose sacrificed its own life to ensure the birth of Ann, which was why the obstetrician called the newborn girl The Moose Child. Another much later event in the artist’s life was the death of her beloved brother, due to leukaemia, only a few years ago. In a series of inescapable paintings, Jacoby shows us the portrait of her brother, often accompanied by desolate and painfully empty landscapes, in a work of mourning where every hope seems to be left out.
In more recent series like ’The Torments of Love’, ’The Journey’ and ’Exit Highway’—the latter depicting such unusual motifs as car cemeteries and scrap dumps—the artist expands the private psychological motifs to generally human issues. ’The Journey’ depicts motifs from the outposts of society: either literally as when Jacoby paints motifs from Lofoten, the far north of Lapland and the most deserted, Hopper-like US; or figuratively when the motif is airport terminals with incoming fugitives or prosaic train stations with anonymous travelers. Common to all these paintings is that the journey can have a symbolic meaning and may refer to politically delicate questions such as the refugee problem or more personal, existential matters. Ever so often, these choice situations are depicted as crossroads, a turning road or a house at the outskirts of civilisation; pictures of both the outer and the inner journey as well as the possibilities you either take up or leave out. In the ’Love Series’, Jacoby encircles other decisive aspects of life: the choice of partner, love and sex. Once again in such a way that we recognise ourselves in the vivid strokes of the artist. In the series with the car cemeteries, the artist once more treats the tragi-comical aspects of life. The toylike cars, rendered in joyful parrot colours, either stand deserted on the ground or are being crushed by a sinister, black, predatory crane, heavily symbolising that everything must eventually perish.
As few other artists in Denmark today, Ann Lundén Jacoby has developed a personal idiom where tragedy, melancholy, a sense of nature and an oblique sense of humour form a synthesis. Her artistic development is amazingly fast and now that her paintings have a deeprooted human content of general interest, she deserves a large public.