The idea for the work ANGEST sprung from Line Tjørnhøj’s fascination by the expressionist paintings of the artist Kirsten Kjær (1893-1985). Tjørnhøj recognized some of the more rebellious and extroverted aspects of her own personality in Kirsten Kjær, and also identified with the fact that she found her way to an artistic expression relatively late, discovering art as a space for her to unfold.
The painting Angst (Anxiety) painted by Kirsten Kjær in 1938 really spoke to Line Tjørnhøj. “It is a portrait of the art collector Elna Fonnesbech-Sandberg who started collecting contemporary art when she was very young,” Line Tjørnhøj explains. “At a time when the second world war was approaching, her husband lost everything they had, and to support them both, she had to sell her entire collection of art. Afterwards, she started over and bought artworks from young artists.”
Line Tjørnhøj also reads elements of Kirsten Kjær’s own life into the expressive painting: “I imagine how Kirsten Kjær dances adventurously out in the world with an enormous, bright force, but also a force that somehow seeks the dark in a rather reckless way. In her early thirties, Kirsten Kjær experiences a psychosis, but she manages to pick herself up and afterwards she starts painting. She is transformed by what she has experienced, but she is still fearless,” Line Tjørnhøj explains and continues: “ANGEST is a tone poem accompanying her through the significant moments throughout her life.”
Line Tjørnhøj describes her work: “In ANGEST I have worked with a more tonal expression than what I most often do. The melody is carried by various instruments at a time, and the parts are all weaved into each other so that the melodic material is spread out to the entire orchestra. However, there is still a part of the work that is rather abstract – this part relates to the psychosis and the fear or anxiety of developing such a severe disorder, which I believe that many people might recognize.”
The title ANGEST refers to the portrait Angst, the situation of the woman in the painting and the anxiety about the war at the time of the painting. “The title also refers to Søren Kierkegaard’s description of anxiety as a positive, constructive force,” the composer explains. “In Kierkegaard’s understanding anxiety is something different from the unspecific anxiety caused by a focus on achievements, guilt and shame in today’s society. To me there is a great amount of reassurance and hope in the work of Kirsten Kjær,” Line Tjørnhøj concludes.
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