I was Born to Create: Interview with Ursula Kofahl Lampron
Ursula Kofahl Lampron was born in Hamburg, Germany, a year after the end of World War II. She immigrated with her parents to the United States in 1951, where she started her artistic career. In 1970, she immigrated to Montreal, Canada with her husband to study Studio Art at Concordia University. Ursula has studied art with Laurent Bonet, son of famous Spanish artist Jordi Bonet (1*); as well as Francoise Sullivan (2*), one of the signers of the “Refus Global”. In December 2007, Ursula was invited to exhibit her horse sculptures at Le Louvre. She has been awarded the Maître en Beaux Arts by l’Academie Internationale des Beaux-Arts du Quebec. In addition, her works have been exhibited in Florence (Italy), New York, Florida, Los Angeles, Montreal, Quebec, Ontario, and many others.
OGP：Ursula, what has inspired you to become an artist and sculptor?
Ursula：I was born to create. I say this because I never remember a time in my life when I did not engage my imagination as a means of enhancing my life. Born in post war Germany when shortages such as food, medical care and housing were considered the norm, I used my imagination as an escape from the harsh realities of war. When I was five years old my parents decided to immigrate to the United States. There I received my first pencil and crayons and so with these tools and encouragement from my parents, I was finally able to express my creativity in a concrete form.
OGP：Horses have been seen as symbols of strength and elegance. During the Qing Dynasty in China, the palace artist Giuseppe Castiglione (3*), from Italy, Giuseppe Castiglione, painted the famous “One Hundred Horses”, which is now considered one of the ten greatest artworks in Chinese history. As indicated by its name, these paintings consisted of 100 horses, all in varying poses. The original is now exhibited in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the National Palace Museum in Taipei. In addition, elite politician and strategist - Emperor Taizong (4*) of the Tang Dynasty, created the Six Steeds of Zhao Mausoleum , which are six stone reliefs of the six precious war horses owned by Emperor Taizong. As can be seen, the Chinese are avid fans of horses; “ma”, which means “horse” in Chinese, and is even considered one of the twelve zodiacs and as a surname!
Ursula：As a child I was an avid reader and particularly interested in mythology and fairytales. In these wonderful stories the horse was often expressed as a noble creature and symbol of force, beauty and speed, I instantly fell in love with it! When I had my first opportunity to actually see a horse, I knew that somehow this creature would be very important to me. The horse became my artist's signature and has become one of my most important symbols in my art used for personal expression. When I met and married my Canadian husband I found myself once again immigrating to yet another country and learning yet another language and culture. There we purchased a farm and to my great joy bought some horses. I did not lack for opportunities to study the horse, here at last I was able to touch every curve of their body, watch all their moves when running, understand their body language, their fears, their strength to ride them and feel the freedom of flight on a horse's back! These very qualities I experienced are now often expressed in my art.
OGP：I can see that horses are very meaningful to you. Was there anyone who has influenced your artistic pursuit? You have studied under amazing artists, Francoise Sullivan and Laurent Bonet; which one of them has made more impact on your artistic career?
Ursula：They taught me different things in varying stages of my artistic career. With Laurent I learned the techniques of the old masters. My studies with him gave me the foundation and understanding of classic art techniques. So although my art is very contemporary, it nonetheless has all the qualities found in fine art. Despite all this, I did not take my artistic talents seriously until later in life when I attended Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, to study Studio Art. There I had the opportunity to study with Francoise Sullivan. Francoise, herself a talented artist, is a passionate and dedicated professor who encouraged me to pursue my art and to take it one step further - go professional. Francoise believed in me.
OGP：Francoise Sullivan was a signer for "Refus Global” (5*), which was an document in the artistic movement of antiestablishment and anti-religious manifesto in Quebec. This manifesto was an important historical event as it opened the door to artistic expression in Quebec. It was initiated by a group of sixteen young Québécois artists and intellectuals led by Paul-Émile Borduas on August 9, 1948 in Montreal. The “Refus Global” caused global attention; it has been translated into various languages and published in the United States and all across Europe. The CBC called it “one of the most important and controversial artistic and social documents in modern Quebec society.” We believe that art should be a form of expression free of interference from doctrine boundaries and other limitations. The process of learning, understanding, and creating is what leads to truly beautiful art.
Ursula：Yes, you are absolutely right. In the beginning my art was very figurative. I believe it was a necessary step towards becoming a contemporary artist. One must first learn and understand the elements and principles of design and painting before one can use their intuition and imagination in creating a work of art that can "bend the rules", and still be good. I would describe my painting as bending the rules to create an emotional experience that others can relate to. I bend the rules when I paint my horses bright red, when I paint a boat at the top of a painting rather than in the middle or lower half of the canvas. I like the element of surprise it creates in the viewer, the questions he must ask himself. Why are the horses red? We share the emotion by the questions it brings up. My paintings are uniquely mine as I use "accidents" that happen while I paint and apply them in the creative process. This means that often not even I know what the painting will be when finished. Reference photos are seldom used as I rarely know in advance what exactly I will paint. My paintings are spontaneous. I love heavy textures and if something is too precisely painted I will deconstruct it by means of texture, scratches, ink, charcoal, and paint applications with a large spatula. My art is created for all to enjoy, but to truly enjoy it requires a sophisticated mind. This is because not everyone will appreciate the exaggerations or have the patience to study the application of the paint, the movement, the story, the unusual colors. It requires a certain knowledge about art to fully appreciate it.
OGP：Deciphering the sensations and feelings of the artist during his or her creation through the artwork requires knowledge, perseverance, and patience. These are exactly the qualities which our collectors possess. We have purchased numerous artworks and sculptures, some of which have been created by internationally renowned artists. Experienced collectors often have preferred styles, for instance, the artworks of a specific artist or during a specific period of time. We learn to figure out our personal themes overtime, after extensive research and exploration, often lasting three to five years. Time and art sit on different ends of the see-saw, the longer the time spent, the higher the artistic value. All perspectives are taken into consideration: artistic qualities, societal evaluations, and historical factors. Your horse paintings and your recent water lily paintings seem to be on different spectrums of the colour scheme and expressions. One is more wild while the other displays serenity.
Ursula：My inspirations come from my daily life, the people around me, a color, a sound that evokes a distant memory, an artist whose work I admire. Horses too, as I mentioned earlier, have been a very powerful influence on my work. As a child I felt a spiritual connection to them and still do to this day. I use their form as a means of artistic expression. They are primitive, fragile yet strong. I love their curves and how they fill my canvas with eye pleasing movement. Recently water lilies and verdant ponds have become a preferred subject for me, scenes filled with flowers in abundance and organic matter and colors all richly painted in mauves, blues, deep greens and yellow. Textures too are applied with large spatulas to create real depth and movement. All these things conjure up expressionistic paintings the eyes can get lost in. These recent paintings are a great departure from my abstract horses mostly because of the extreme change in the colors I am using. The movement, texture and application of paint remains relatively the same, but my horse paintings have usually been limited to three or four colors only and the colors used tended to be in reds, black, white and beige. This evolution is a natural result of my exploration of colors. The evolution of my artwork has brought me from the very figurative to a much more relaxed and contemporary style that is more concerned with the actual application of the paint rather than the subject. In the end it is all really about where and how you put the paint. No matter how beautiful the subject of a painting is, it is still all about the paint.
OGP：The process of “creation” is the basis for everything, but the finishing product determines its value. Continuous learning of artistic techniques is very important. Your works are exhibited in various galleries, including Le Balcon D'Art, Galerie Iris in Baie St-Paul, the artistic center of Quebec, and also with the Galerie Lamoureux-Ritzenfoff in Montreal. Your horse sculptures have travelled to Le Louvre; and you have been awarded le Maitre en Beaux Arts by l’Académie Internationale des Beauxs Arts du Quebec art gallery. These are all outstanding achievement for an artist!
Ursula：Yes, in 2011 I was given the honorary title of Maître en Beaux-arts with the Académie Internationale des Beauxs Arts du Quebec. This is a title that is earned upon the recommendations of galeristes and other art experts and also on the quality of my art works. I was also quite thrilled when I was invited to show my horse sculptures at The Louvre, Le Carousel in 2007. I was accompanied by several other chosen artists to represent Quebec. When one loves doing something then motivation is easy to find. My art is a very satisfying way to make me feel good about myself. What could be better for the morale or one's self esteem than creating? I cannot separate myself from my art, it is who I am.
OGP：Currently a large number of our clients are based in Asia, what is your opinion on Asian art and sculptures?
Ursula：I was looking forward to answering this question as my father had purchased some Asian sculptures and it was through him that I had my first introduction into Asian Art. Asian Art is probably one of the most diverse and ancient sources of beautiful art. It can be both complex and sublimely simple. It is also probably the most singular major influence on all art throughout the world. This is particularly true for landscape painting and sculpture. I am fascinated by delicate Asian designs. Some of my pottery sculptures are finished in the ancient Raku firing technique for pottery. A good piece of artwork can stand the test of time. Whether today, tomorrow or a thousand years from now, good art will always remain identifiable. It is difficult to define because good is so often just a personal opinion or an emotional response. To set a definition of what is "good" art risks limiting the imagination and technique. Is Marcel Duchamp's toilet art (6*)? What about Andy Warhol's painting of a Campbell soup can (7*), is that art? Dali (8*), Picasso (9*), Rembrandt (10*)? Only time will tell, but I know what I like and it isn't DuChamp's toilet!
OGP：You definitely have a point here! Art is a valuable intangible heritage and an important evidence of human civilization. Who can better test the value of artworks better than time? Time will elicit the finest details in an artwork, as well as allow the opportunity for more audience to observe and deliberate. Every art collector is “committed to maximizing the preservation of precious and unique works of art within one’s ability, in order to pass them down to future generations.” This is our commitment too. Currently we provide multi-faceted art evaluation and appraisal services, using the digital assessment to expand audiences of art and to share artistic knowledge with others. Only through treating these artworks into investment opportunities can we attend to these artworks in a cautious and serious manner and understand the true value of them.
Ursula：I hope to continue to evolve and to further develop my artistic abilities . I would like to build a reputation for myself as a respected artist, one that can endure the test of time and also grow and move on with the new technology in a positive way expanding my visual audience. The next three years will be devoted to developing my online visibility. I am also working towards a solo show for my new "organic" paintings, and of course, my horses will be there, they are after all my beginning.
OGP：Thank you Ursula for spending time with us today. It was an honour to be able to speak with you and to explore the various aspects of your art. Please continue to follow OGP, OhGoodParty.com and Ursula Kofahl Lampron.
Ursula：Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity to share my story and my art with you!
1* Jordi Bonet (1932 - 1979) was a Catalan-born Canadian painter, ceramist, muralist, and sculptor who was one of Quebec's major artists.He established an atelier in Mont-Saint-Hilaire in 1960. Over the next 20 years, he created more than 100 works in Quebec and abroad, and associated with major art figures such as Salvador Dalí. In 1964, he was commissioned by the Government of Sierra Leone to deliver the mural which can still be seen at the front of the Bank of Sierra Leone building, in the capital, Freetown. His signature is situated at the bottom right-hand of the mural, with the words "Jordi Bonet '64". Galerie L'Art français exhibited his works from the 1950s.
2* Françoise Sullivan, CM CQ (1925 - ) is a Canadian painter, sculptor, dancer and choreographer. Her early paintings were influenced by Fauvism and Cubism. In 1941 she came into contact with the Québecois painter Paul-Émile Borduas and members of the group Les Automatistes. In 1948, Sullivan signed Les Automatistes' Refus Global manifesto, which included her essay La danse et l'espoir (Dance and Hope). During the 1980s, Sullivan returned to painting and between 1982 and 1994 produced several series, which are regarded as the culmination of her work in this medium. In 1997, she completed Montagnes (Mountains), a granite wall located in the main lobby of President Kennedy Pavilion of Université du Québec à Montréal. In 2000, the university bestowed upon her an honorary doctorate. Since 1997, Sullivan has taught painting at Concordia University. In 2001, she was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada and the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal held a retrospective of her work.
3* Giuseppe Castiglione, S.J. (1688 - 1766), was an Italian Jesuit brother and a missionary in China, where he served as an artist at the imperial court of three emperors – the Kangxi, Yongzheng and Qianlong emperors. He painted in a style that is a fusion of European and Chinese traditions. Castiglione's style of painting is a unique blend of European and Chinese compositional sensibility, technique and themes. He adjusted the Western style he was trained in to suit Chinese taste. The paintings were done on silk, and unlike Western painting where mistake can be reworked, brushwork on silk is almost impossible to be removed, therefore requires careful and precise painting. An example is the most important early work by Castiglione, One Hundred Horses in a Landscape. It was painted in 1728 for the Yongzheng emperor. Some of the horses are in a 'flying gallop' pose, which had not been done before by European painters. The painting was executed using tempera on silk in the form of a Chinese handscroll of nearly eight meters in length. It was largely done in a European-style in accordance with the rules of perspective, and with a consistent light source.
4* Emperor Taizong of Tang (598 - 649), previously Prince of Qin, personal name Li Shimin, was the second emperor of the Tang dynasty of China, ruling from 626 to 649. He is traditionally regarded as a co-founder of the dynasty for his role in encouraging Li Yuan, his father, to rebel against the Sui dynasty at Jinyang in 617. Taizong is typically considered to be one of the greatest emperors in China's history and henceforth, his reign became regarded as the exemplary model against which all future emperors were measured. His era, the "Reign of Zhenguan is considered a golden age in Chinese history and flourished economically and militarily. In territorial extent, it covered most of the territories previously held by the Han dynasty, including parts of modern Vietnam, Xinjiang, and Central Asian regions as far as eastern Kazakhstan. This era of consolidation and conquest laid the foundation for Xuanzong's reign, which is considered to be the height of the Tang dynasty.
5* Le Refus global, or Total Refusal, was an anti-establishment and anti-religious manifesto released on August 9, 1948 in Montreal by a group of sixteen young Québécois artists and intellectuals. Le Refus Global originated from a group called Les Automatistes, led by Paul-Émile Borduas. This group created abstract paintings inspired by French surrealists of the time and scorned all academic teaching available at the time in Quebec. The signatories were also highly influenced by French poet André Breton's stream-of-consciousness style and extolled the creative force of the subconscious. Notwithstanding, this manifesto caused an uproar, and as a result of this manifesto, Borduas lost his job at the École du meuble de Montréal. Later, the manifesto was translated into different languages and was read in America and Europe. The CBC calls it "one of the most important and controversial artistic and social documents in modern Quebec society".
6* Fountain is a readymade sculpture produced by Marcel Duchamp in 1917: a porcelain urinal signed "R.Mutt". In April 1917, an ordinary piece of plumbing chosen by Duchamp was rotated 90 degrees on its axis and submitted for an exhibition of the Society of Independent Artists, the first annual exhibition by the Society to be staged at The Grand Central Palace in New York. Fountain was not rejected by the committee but it was removed from the show area, since Society rules stated that all works would be accepted from artists who paid the fee. The work is regarded by art historians and theorists of the avant-garde as a major landmark in 20th-century art.
7* Campbell's Soup Cans, which is sometimes referred to as 32 Campbell's Soup Cans, is a work of art produced in 1962 by Andy Warhol. Warhol, a commercial illustrator who became a successful author, publisher, painter, and film director, showed the work on July 9, 1962, in his first one-man gallery exhibition as a fine artist in the Ferus Gallery of Los Angeles, California. The combination of the semi-mechanized process, the non-painterly style, and the commercial subject initially caused offense, as the work's blatantly mundane commercialism represented a direct affront to the technique and philosophy of abstract expressionism. In the United States the abstract expressionism art movement was dominant during the post-war period, and it held not only to "fine art" values and aesthetics but also to a mystical inclination. This controversy led to a great deal of debate about the merits and ethics of such work. Warhol's motives as an artist were questioned, and they continue to be topical to this day. Because of the eventual popularity of the entire series of similarly themed works, Warhol's reputation grew to the point where he was not only the most-renowned American pop art artist, but also the highest-priced living American artist.
8* Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech, 1st Marquis of Dalí de Púbol (1904 - 1989), known professionally as Salvador Dalí, was a prominent Spanish surrealist born in Figueres, Catalonia, Spain. Dalí was highly imaginative, and also enjoyed indulging in unusual and grandiose behavior. His eccentric manner and attention-grabbing public actions sometimes drew more attention than his artwork.Dalí was a skilled draftsman, best known for the striking and bizarre images in his surrealist work. His painterly skills are often attributed to the influence of Renaissance masters. Dalí's expansive artistic repertoire included film, sculpture, and photography, at times in collaboration with a range of artists in a variety of media.
9* Pablo Ruiz Picasso (1881 - 1973) was a Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, stage designer, poet and playwright who spent most of his adult life in France. Regarded as one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, he is known for co-founding the Cubist movement, the invention of constructed sculpture, the co-invention of collage, and for the wide variety of styles that he helped develop and explore. Among his most famous works are the proto-Cubist Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (1907), and Guernica (1937), a dramatic portrayal of the bombing of Guernica by the German and Italian airforces during the Spanish Civil War.
10* Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (1606 - 1669) was a Dutch draughtsman, painter and printmaker. An innovative and prolific master in three media, he is generally considered one of the greatest visual artists in the history of art and the most important in Dutch art history. His contributions to art came in a period of great wealth and cultural achievement that historians call the Dutch Golden Age, when Dutch art, although in many ways antithetical to the Baroque style that dominated Europe, was extremely prolific and innovative, and gave rise to important new genres.
* By OGP Editors / Ursula Kofahl Lampron Provides File Photos
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