Behind the façade

On Linda Horn’s paintings


The first thing that meets the eye in Linda Horn’s paintings is their powerful emotional intensity. What we see is apparently portraits, but not in the ordinary sense: with the clinical precision of Thomas Kluge or the magical realism of Jørgen Boberg. Not queens, moneymen, bishops, writers, nor any living, physical person from the real world is the motive of Linda Horn’s paintings. She paints types; what humans are behind the façade of lies and concealment. Thus, there is no reason for Linda Horn to paint naturalistically. A Linda Horn painting is roughly constructed according to the same template: hair, ears, nose, shoulders, arms and hands are barely rendered as slight contours or surfaces of color living their own independent life. The skin, on the other hand, are covered in many layers of color, like theatre makeup of an actor, with clear indications of brushstrokes and a range of colors dominated by white, grey, and beige, with a few bold nuances of rusty red, sulfuric yellow, bluish black or pink. Deep behind these intense layers of color, the eyes appear along with a set of full lips, defying all doubts that these are the reference points of the painting, in composition as well as symbolically.

The eyes are the mirror of the soul, they say: In the case of Linda Horn’s art, this is true in such a significant way that the eyes and the sensitively registered mouth are the key to understand the painting.

The artist herself mentions the writer Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) as an important source of inspiration. In novels such as “Mrs. Dalloway”, “To the lighthouse” and “Orlando” Woolf, possibly the female equivalent of James Joyce, reached an unprecedented insight into the intricate webs of repression, envy, despair and ennui of human beings. Similarly, Linda Horn creates the facial features of her persons with thick layers of color that could be perceived as the character-like makeup that they have based their identity upon. This makeup has slowly devoured them, suggested by the artist through the use of symbolic colors; like when a leaden hint around the lips or a faded shade of green around the eyes suggest a person in a deep existential crisis, only sustained by the conventions on proper behavior.

Over all, the unique feature of wearing too much makeup defines the characters of Linda Horn. Their mouths are harsh, their eyes glowing with pain, vulnerability and melancholy. They are unable to escape the web of alienation they have spun for themselves. Only in the children you have a sense that the possibilities are still left open. In them, the makeup is less significant. Their faces are puzzled, yet expectant of the life that is about to unveil itself to them. Linda Horn expresses this through a less tense and less claustrophobic composition and the use of more optimistic colors. The children still have the chance of having a life free from concealments and lies, even though for some you already sense the harsh features that will provide them with success in their careers, but leave them emotionally warped.

It is rare to see a young artist break through with such powerful paintings, but Linda Horn has already proven that she is in possession of an emotional repertoire of great strength and intensity. Her way of painting and her entire approach to the art is profound and original, mainly because she pays little attention to what is currently in focus at the national and international art scene. Instead, she concentrates on developing her own imagery, and in the end this is what separates the sheep from the goates. There is no doubt in my mind: Linda Horn is on her way to something great.


By Tom Jørgensen, editor of Kunstavisen  

Linda Horn

Once in a while you are allowed the privilege of following the development of an artist and get a glimpse of the considerations and struggles of that process. Encounters with the art of Linda Horn must be undertaken with a sense of respect for the consistency and loyalty to herself, that the artist have cherished through the years. Clearly, this is why the artist today is at an interesting point, artistically.

The artist’s way of working originates from e.g. the television and film media. With a finger on the pause button, Horn locates interesting stills. These clips later form the basis of an artistic expression. As the film medium conveys a person's characteristics through sound, movement and action in time and space, so does Linda Horn through brushstrokes, colours and shapes. The paintings depict a space where time has stopped, a state of being.

With the recent series of paintings, the "passage of time" has indeed come into focus. This is done, inter alia, through the appearance of the theme "life cycle" in portrayals of the child, the mother and for the first time the older woman. The inspiration for these portrayals is found specifically in strong female figures as in Virginia Woolf's book “Miss Dalloway”, reproduced in the film “The Hours” that has worked as a kind of developing fluid for Linda Horn, artistically.

The French actress Juliette Binoche is said to draw and paint some of the characters she portrays on film and in theatre - to work them "under her skin". In the same way, one might say that artist Linda Horn in her approach uses elements from the theatre/films to eventually obtain an artistic expression.

Linda Horn’s aesthetics is profound. It is an approach and an expression characterized by spiritual insight. Much more than shapes and colours on canvas, Horns aesthetic expression is a way of being in the world. A starting point, which is primarily sensed and physical. Without the use of sketches, Horn’s paintings therefore assume a touch of calligraphy and haiku-like simplicity, as if the painter attempts to summarize the essence of a character or feeling, without additional filling. Perhaps this is the reason for the fundamental intensity of the paintings?

Ida Anna Hjalmsrud, 

Master of Arts

Art Communicator

Essay by Jan Horn-Jeppesen

Linda Horn from Denmark is one of the visual artists in our time, who manage to seize the hidden something and distinctly to transform the unseen to the final phase of the creative process concretized on the white canvas. The preferred way of expressing herself is through the portrait that mainly reveals essential and unique snap shots of general and specific features in different people’s physiognomy and gesture, where the indefinable is shining through as from another world. The types are more or less idealized, at the same time present and out of reach, at times even ethereal in their expressivity, by means of which the eyes (as “the mirror of the soul or the mind”), but likewise the foci of the hands, can be mentioned in particular.... (Read more)