William Skotte Olsen
William Skotte Olsen (1945-2005) was a Danish artist known for his unconventional and distinctive style. He stood out in the world of modern Danish art as a wild and arch-expressionist, despite being older than the generation of painters who emerged in the 1980s under the name "The New Wild Ones". His unique style remained unchanged, seemingly driven by his strong painterly instincts.
Olsen's paintings primarily feature staring, standing figures in a primitivized landscape of houses and towers. These figures are simplified, with only the most basic human features emphasized, giving them the appearance of masks. This is a nod to his mentor, the mask painter Egill Jacobsen. Olsen's figures are always cut off above the feet, rooted in the place where they stand, becoming one with nature. They stare directly at the viewer, while the houses in the landscape taper into a roof like a tower, creating an almost mystical and religious atmosphere.
His paintings lack any clear psychology or communication between figures, leaving the viewer to ponder their meaning. Olsen's work is filled with ambiguity, inviting the viewer to contemplate whether the figures are in a trance, praying to something greater than themselves, or if they are human souls. The landscapes may be real or only dreamscapes, and the uncertainty adds an animated atmosphere and fundamental character to his simple and naive paintings.
Olsen's love of rock music played a significant role in his life, as did his travels to India and Pakistan. However, his paintings are not heavily influenced by specific features of these places. Instead, they represent the universal experiences of all people, regardless of location or culture. Olsen's paintings are a universal depiction of humanity and its condition in the world.