Simon Aaen is the Danish artist chosen to create new art for the Danish Church in Toronto. He is one of the youngest active Danish church artists, but already well established with several church decorations in Denmark.
- I am very delighted over the invitation to create art for the Danish Church in Toronto. I myself grew up in a culture other than in Denmark, because my parents worked as missionaries in Nigeria when I was a child. So I know about having roots in Danish soil but growing up in another country.
Simon Aaen in his studio with the two finished paintings (fotos: Arne Illeborg).
Simon Aaen’s art is biblically inspired and inspired by the Nordic nature. In many of his paintings water is a central element. That will be the same for the art planned for Toronto:
- We often hear about water in the Bible. Water that gives life and cleanses us in baptism. But we also experience the threatening water like the storm on the lake, as a symbol of human inner turmoil. Storms that Jesus can rule, Aaen explains.
The theme chosen for the church in Toronto is Jesus walking on the stormy lake, where he meets the disciples who are afraid and doubting.
- It's a strong motif I have not painted before, says Aaen.
In this short video, Simon Aaen present the paintings to the Danish Church in Toronto:
Pastor Simon hopes that the congregation in Toronto can mirror their own lives in the picture.
- Some of them initially travelled to Toronto by sea themselves as migrants, and we all experience that our lives can be chaotic - like in a storm. The Bible tells us that Jesus comes to meet us when that happens. To have faith and step out of the boat. Jesus extends his hand, and in that way the paintings will also illustrate the text "Jeg vil ingenlunde slippe dig" which is printed on the altar in the church, says Pastor Simon Kangas, who has been in close dialogue with the artist about the theme.
In addition to two paintings, the hope is that there will be funds to make two motifs illustrating the sacraments:
The baptism is illustrated in a glass dish for the font in the same colour shades as the paintings. The communion will be illustrated in a wood carving on the front of the altar.
- Architecture can sometimes get a little angular and stiff and functional. Art can add some organic, soft shapes to a space that otherwise stands still. I hope it can add an experience that we get a visual immersion space, a place where the eye can rest and the mind can find peace, says Simon Aaen.
- Good church art is like a window that you can look through from both sides: From one side, it looks into eternity - into the kingdom of God. From the other side, it looks into our lives as humans on earth.
Simon Aaen has his studio in Rønde on Djursland north of Aarhus.
Visit his website and see his artwork in other churches - and in general: simonaaen.com
Read more about the sanctuary upgrade here.