Uffe Christoffersen

Uffe Christoffersen
b. 1947, DK
Painter and graphic designer

“To hunt the Tiger, you must first hunt the Tiger in yourself, and to do that, you first make certain that the Tiger is not hunting you”
– Mochtar Lubis

Biography

Uffe Christoffersen is educated from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen, being a former student of the Danish mask-painter and member of the COBRA-movement, Egill Jacobsen. Christoffersen has been a member of the expressive and energetic Danish artist association “Violet Sol” (1971-1988) in 1974 and has since 1994 been a member of the artist association “Corner.”
Uffe has since 1990 lived and worked in the south of France, together with his wife, the artist Annette Hoff-Jessen.

The tiger
Uffe Christoffersen’s favorite subject is the tiger in all of its forms: leaping, resting, roaring or contemplative. His passion for colour is also his most valuble tool, to which he takes an almost scientific approach.

His style is a reckless, colourful and seductive form of Neo-Expressionism. Uffe Christoffersen works with an immense joy for his medium, undertaking his task with an impulse and energetic force which has rarely been seen, since the artists of the COBRA-movement turned the art world upside down.

Uffe Christoffersen’s later artworks focus on a rythmic exchange of forces: in each piece within this series, the foreground and background clearly work together to create a dynamic expression which offers a more subtle contrast than seen in the artist’s earlier works, which have a more clear distinction between foreground and background.

The name Uffe Christoffersen has become synonymous with his colorful studies of the tiger motif. However, his fascination with this predatory creature is not, as one might think, the main force behind his work. According to the artist, the motif itself is never the focal point for a great painter:

“The most important thing is the act of painting itself. When you thoroughly examine a motif, you go through many trials, resulting in a multitude of conclusions…. My theory is, that one can continue to paint the same glass of water standing on the same table your entire life. One of the reasons for this, is that painting is a very diffucult and complicated process, in which there are so many thoughts to be made before the image is complete … ”

Uffe Christoffersen has been fascinated with big cats ever since his early childhood, whilst briefly living with his family in Africa. Here he describes his first encounter with the wild animal:

“When I was a child, I lived for several years in Kenya. My family and I lived in a newly built villa with a large garden. I was about eight years old at the time, and I found the garden very exciting, especially late in the day when the deep African darkness descended, and the moon shone down between trees and shrubs. Uncertain shadows would lurk in the many nooks and often I saw jackals and leopards sneaking around. From the surrounding villages one heard the native drums, and the tropical night was mixed with the sound of howling hyenas and the roar of lions. Out on the plains there were zebras, antelopes and elephants, and in the distance you could see the purple mountain range, the Ngong Hills. 
 The school I went to was about. 9 kilometres away. The buses were quite irregular, so I often rode my bicycle instead, along small winding and red ocher coloured dirt roads, which continued towards the wild jungle. Early one morning when I had to pass through an intersection in the heart of the jungle, there was a large lioness approximately 25 metres further ahead, blocking my way. Accompanying the lioness were a few little cubs running around and playing. I stopped and carefully placed my bicycle aside while trying to figure out how I could get around this significant obstacle. The fact that is was an extremely dangerous situation, and that the risk of an attack was very real, did not seen to phase me at all. I was far more anxious of being late for school, and was probably more afraid of the teacher than the lion. So the lion stood there, huge, facing me, staring with its yellow-brown eyes. The amount of time which passed is impossible to say, as it felt like an eternity, but suddenly the spell was broken, and the lion jumped into the bushes and disappeared into the jungle.
The cubs followed close behind their mother. It took a long time before I could really use the strong impressions the time in Africa gave me, but I think it had a great impact in my interest of the big predators.. This work was, for me, no childhood dream to be put into practice, but real events and impressions to be processed and converted into images. ”

Since then, Uffe Christoffersen has not lacked a motive for his expressive and experimental paintings. Throughout his career, the tiger motif has been studied and refined endlessly.

Violet Sun
The art group Violet Sol (Violet Sun) is characterized by their expressive paintings and extensive use of colour. The group is deeply involed with a colouristic apporach to the artwork, clearly reflected in the choice of name: Violet Sun. In colour theory, this term is used to describe the optical effect of closing ones eyes after looking directly into the sun; a violet disc will appear in ones vision, as yellow and violet are each other’s complementary counterparts. The presence of either one, will magnify the presence of the other.

In this way Violet Sun uses a scientific approach to their practice, despite the fact that their artworks appear free and impulsive.

The Danish art historian Thomas Kappel says of the group’s shared artistic features:

” A deep interest in Expressionism thrived within the group, particularly the characteristic Nordic expression of Edvard Munch, Emil Nolde and Cael Frederick Hill. Their abstract counterparts, the COBRA painters also inspired them, with Asger Jorn as the chief figure.

Galerie Birch and Uffe Christoffersen
Being one of the most radical and interesting assocoations of Danish artists in the 1970’ies and 80’ies, Børge Birch had an eye on the members of Violet Sun from early on. His attention was at first pointed at the charismatic painter Gunnar Møller. Later, in 1990, Anette Birch invites Uffe Christoffersen to attend a group exhibition, and since then Uffe Chritoffersen has been associated with Galerie Birch.

Selected exhibitions
Janus Bygningen, with Annette Hoff-Jessen
Right Now – contemporary art climate exhibition
Henning Larsens Art Shop, Copenhagen
Galerie Birkdam, Copenhagen
Anette Birchs Kunsthandel, Copenhagen 1990
Galerie Birch, Copenhagen 1995-1997-2002-2004-2005-2007-2008
Galerie Nord, Randers
Galerie Gl. Lejre
Galleri Torso, Odense
Kunstmuseet Trapholt, Kolding
Enrico Trizio, Bari, Italy
Galeriet, Ikast
Randers Art Museum
Galerie Edeling, Copenhagen
Graphics Biennalen in BadenBaden, Germany
La Galerie, French Cultural Centre, Oslo
Sveaborg, Finland
XIV, Cagnes-sur-Mer, France

Represented at the following Danish Museums
Randers Kunstmuseum
KUNSTEN Museum of Modern Art Aalborg
Statens Museum for Kunst

Awards and grant
The States Art Fund’s 3-year scholarship 1992-94