Coming Of Age

Detail of the cover of Børnetegninger 
by Simon Bang.
Wiping across the surface of a book fresh from the printer's, its smell filling the room - THAT smell - with the shock of OH NO! I have already stained the cover - and yes, we accidentally do that too all the time, only this time it is the print of the foxing of a paper from a while ago.

In the foxing we have the whole tale of the book before us; the dividing line of then and now, on drawings made by an artist, when he was still a child.

Børnetegninger (i.e. "Drawings by a child") with the subtitle "a 13-year old draws Fensmark and environs" by Simon Bang captures the spiral notebook of a child determined to qualify himself as an artist, while underway to coming of age, trawling his childhood countryside transforming it into motifs to be put on paper.

Simon Bang, cover of Børnetegninger. 

We have already met the early works of Simon Bang on this blog such as here and here, and twice interviewed him on the subject here and here (all of which are in Danish, alas). Each of the drawings were then on this blog as now on print presented with a short description in his own words.

Simon writes in as precise a style as he draws - then as today - each word to a point on recreating that color or the atmosphere he fought to capture on paper. He remembers every single intention of his drawings, a fact highlighting the intensity with which he was drawing.

Simon Bang, spread from Børnetegninger. 

Intention and intensity - in combination with child vs. artist, Simon Bang comes from a long line of artists. He was as such not just any child with a sketchbook. Art was knowing one's tools and techniques, just as it was a matter of his parents discussing with him at the end of a day, what he had been drawing. The drawings printed are from the year when he would sell his first works and soon after arrange his first solo exhibition.

We see a child, still a child, but actively pursuing his goal to become an artist. He is striving, fighting and endeavoring in every line. These are drawings all about seeking to achieve, the intensity of which has been so strong that he each time remembers, such as the texture of a color and his solution to conveying it.

The format of the sketchbook is that of the classical format for landscapes resting along a long horizon. It is perhaps one of the most interesting features of the book; how it is not Fensmark and its environs as such he has drawn. Each feature has been detected as to how it would work on paper. Simon has been testing his eyes, distilling what was before him according to the premises of art. He is composing while seeing, setting his goals constantly higher, such as catching the aforementioned color, which did all it could to defy being drawn.

Simon Bang, spread from Børnetegninger. 

The child drawing already had an artistic icon in the cartoonist Ib Andersen, son of Valdemar Andersen. Ib Andersen mapped his local landscape around Fredensborg, traveling the countryside in his jeep and stopping everywhere a sudden shower of rain might have left a puddle in which a light pole was mirroring its vertical lines. Never the nostalgic, but always the analyst, the landscapes of Ib Andersen was that of the 20th century of asphalt roads and light poles. The very combination Simon was testing in Fensmark.

Simon Bang, spread from Børnetegninger.
Interestingly, Ib Andersen at 13 had been testing the exact opposite techniques. He was dramatic, overly so, attempting to catch movement and stories of persons rushing or fighting. He was even trying to be funny at his own expense, drawing out his own failing exertions as a sportsman. He was thus trying to be a cartoonist catching that movement of line, which was his father's specialty. Ib Andersen would eventually become a cartoonist in his own right, doing the opposite of movement and portraiture. He specialized in the larger compositions for the Sunday paper for which his beholders would wait in anticipation all week.

Simon Bang, spread from Børnetegninger. 

The compositions of Ib Andersen were a serious matter to take lessons from. Obviously the results of hard work and analyses of every element of therein, a child eager to learn would do no less. Not yet at home within a style of his own, he is at this point hardly even a pre-styler, but he is just about to get there and we get to see the struggle he is putting into every part of the road.

Each drawing is a rich material on the learning process, in this case a child working on his own, albeit he would later get to have his work assessed at home. Yet he is an exemplar child, who personifies the layers at hand in any child and what is lost when it all too often puts down the pencil at just about that age.

Simon Bang, spread from Børnetegninger. 

Simon Bang, Børnetegninger; en 13-årig tegner Fensmark & opland, Multivers, Copenhagen 2017. The book can be ordered here.

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