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Nes Lerpa

I was born in Copenhagen on August 22, 1942.

I paint on huge canvases and do oil paintings as well as acrylics. Travelling around I do a lot of paperwork, mostly watercolours- they serve as my diaries or notebooks. Have been very much inspired by great artists from various countries : Emil Schumacher, Hsiao Chin, Babu Xavier, Phillip Martin and Emilio Vedova.

I am deeply in love with the Sami culture, have been influenced by this since my first arrival in Lappland in the sixties. From my life in India I am full of magical smells and colours. Ever since the seventies I have been living in both the north and the south of Europe: I own a studio in the Italian countryside in Emilia Romagna. And I have a wonderful place in the forest north of Copenhagen, Atelier Asserbo.

As a child I caught butterflies, today I'm setting them free


by Luciano Caprile

In a world regulated and conditioned by the media, artists find it difficult to pronounce dissenting thoughts, to launch gestures of profanation against the obvious and consolidated taste of superficiality. The warrior artist is a rare species. Even rarer is the warrior artist that Nes Lerpa proclaims himself to be. Like one who has chosen to lay unexpected traps and snares, unlike any consolidated strategy of war, Lerpa attacks the rules of the market, rejecting their logic.

Besides, his anarchic behaviour derives from the Cobra universe that nourished his youth not only  with images and actions but above all with arduous awareness and ancestral inspirations.

At the beginning at least, Jorn and his companions also had to behave like warriors in order to introduce and spread their ideas through society which had been subjected to war and was still paying the consequences in terms of existential torment.


at a certain point he had to "kill" and consume Cobra in order to arise from its ashes...


Lerpa has had to do more : at a certain point he had to "kill" and consume Cobra in order to arise from its ashes, to be able to interpret with the conviction of his own spirit the harsh and deviously sweetened contradictions of our time. Lerpa the warrior has therefore arisen with the dawn that he himself has devised and corrupted.


His canvases and sheets of paper are alive with bright tones and contrasts in humour, they spread in fugitive stains of colour guided by a hand that announces and seduces thought. They are enriched with the signs and traces of a harmony or a reiterated inner travail that does not fear to attack spaces and to populate them with mysterious memories, structural alchemies, ecstatic apparitions and sudden negations of light.


For its part, terracotta undergoes the destiny of abandonment and reconquest of the flesh : the sculpture that flourishes in Lerpa's hands like a shapeless or fragmented product of metamorphosis, awaits the rain or a colour bath in order to regain life and consciousness, to renew the cry of a new world and a new form of expression.


Everything is reborn daily for a renewable spring in these works originating partly in Italy and partly in Denmark, in a continuous pilgrimage of emotions, palpitations and perceptions. Through well-tried visual and tactile sensations Nes Lerpa launches the most limpid and true confrontation and debate in existence. Now the truth, thanks to these big canvases, is before people's eyes: the terracotta warriors are inexorably on the march: no one must detach their gaze or distract their thoughts. Nes Lerpa is lying in wait and ever ready to strike.


By Luciano Caprile, Italian writer and art critic

My life is a fairytale  

By Nes Lerpa


My life is a fairytale. My origin is Denmark, the country of Hans Christian Andersen, the wonderful writer of fairytales.

I grew up in my father's studio. He too was a painter, influenced from the French impressionism.

As a young student he worked very hard copying the great masters at Louvre, Paris. I got inspired by big painters of his generation: first and foremost Asger Jorn, Richard Mortensen, Hans Øllgaard.

They taught me a lot in my first years. In my very young days I was also attracted  by the fantastic jazz music, went to live concerts with Louis Armstrong in 1957 and the Duke (Ellington) in Copenhagen. Musicians like Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Cecil Taylor and Sidney Bechet - you name them!

Later on when I met André Masson in Provence I got to understand the impact he had had on American painters like Jackson Pollack and Mark Tobey . Masson was French but escaped to the US during the second world war and lived in America for some years. I was very inspired by American painters like Hans Hofmann, Jackson Pollack and Arshile Gorky.

18 years old I was a member of the hanging committee in a new art association PRO. My debut took place at the juried Summer Exhibition in Copenhagen June 1961.

1964 I started my journeys around Europe. Spanish Nerja, Andalucia was my first stay abroad in Southern Europe. My meeting with the American poet Philip Lamantia in Nerja was an important source of inspiration which changed my direction in life. I had already before this meeting been studying the liberating poetical works of Henry Miller, Henry David Thoreau's Walden and On The Duty Of Civil Disobedience. Now I moved on to Ibiza, to swinging London, Paris and Milan.

Met an Italian girl who had a family house in a medieval fortress at the Mediterranean coast near Genova. This became my studio for 5 important years.


 By Nes Lerpa



By Lise Seisbøll


Nes Lerpa is the only artist that I know of, who blows out his whole rainbow of statements entirely through the raw and delicate language of colours. No words, rarely any recognizable figures, signs or symbols, no straight linear or perspective compositions, just colours. The colours which spread as if no canvas would ever be large enough to enclose them are strong, clean and insistent.


...someone who simply had to slip out the entire emotional vocabulary through the use of colours...


One could nearly think that these works were made by a mute person - someone who simply had to slip out the entire emotional vocabulary through the use of colours. This is how I sense the density of the painted explosions of Nes Lerpa.

For decenniums, he has also expressed himself through an increasing number of ceramic sculptures - made in exactly as informal tecniques as when painting, and often his visual art is created in close cooperation with composers, writers, sculptors, architects and skillful artisans, each adding their personal part to the " Gesammtkunstwerke".


By Lise Seisbøll, Managing Director of the Danish Ceramics Museum, Danmarks Keramikmuseum, in Middelfart



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