Congratulations Per Marquard Otzen!

Per Marquard Otzen, The World of the Book, November 18, 2007.

A long shadow is cast the length of the book page. It is not an easy thing reading. At least it should not be. We should be wounded and stabbed, taking a blow to our heads, in the words of Kafka, why else should we be reading?

Why else should we be looking at cartoons? 
Kafka's words are as much the terminology for cartooning, even if literary sources are met with a deep-rooted hostility in Danish visual culture. It is seen as somehow un-Danish, as in the undead? Certainly something to back away from, armed with verbal reasonings of what an abomination, perish the thought ready at hand.

The most un-frigthened among cartoonists in this country will be 70 tomorrow: Per Marquard Otzen, an artist of the renaissance caliber. He is on first name with artists, authors and philosophers spanning three thousand years, translating them into a drawn universe of infinite space of dusty greys and blues, in which structures are mushrooming combining new and known shapes into constantly new worlds. The book page itself is transformed of the life of which is tells: 

Per Marquard Otzen, The estate of an 101-year-old Israeli cat lady holds priceless Kafka papers.
The documents may have been lost in the old lady's humid Tel Aviv-apartment
July 14, 2008.

The sea of words has a special place in Per's oeuvre. Waves of creation winding when unleashed. Dangerous and yet the most rewarding, if we dare travel them. 

Perhaps accidentally Per himself has given us a term for his art: Wordnamental in the title of the drawing below. Not just a play on the two obvious words included, it is the very act of texturing the otherwise delicate line through words barely there and yet they are adding to the fact that the structures in Per's drawings are constantly being created logic in their surrealism and surrealist in their logic.

Per Marquard Otzen, Wordnamental. A complete translation of the intricate
inscriptions all over the walls of the ancient Alhambra Palace
 is now under way
, April 3, 2009.
- What does it say?
- Be brief and you will go in peace

Per remains one of a kind in his own country. As already noted, there is a fear in Danish culture in thinking daring thoughts, a fear which gained further ground in Danish politics in the first decade of the 21st century. And so with inspiration from the surrealist Wilhelm Freddie and his visualization of the Occupied Dane in the year of 1940, this was the Dane of 2009, shutting out not the ability to utter spite, but the ability to even dare to see:

Per Marquard Otzen, The Self-Sufficient Dane, April 14, 2009.

Cartoonists rarely retire, and so 70 is but an occasion to celebrate what has already been achieved, looking forward to new artworks ahead: Happy Birthday, Per, and many happy returns!

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