Encountering Lene Gammelgaard’s pictures for the first time – one becomes almost overwhelmed by their vibrant forcefulness. Her art seems to be a constant battle for equilibrium between “a vast untamable unspoiled wildness and the deepest vulnerable serenity”. Lene Gammelgaard’s canvases encompasses to major worlds – that are two extreme opposites on a continuum – constantly aiming for a kind of complex union. Maybe mirroring in an almost manifesting attempt to create a united whole out of her own many layered personality – reflecting her life struggle to come to terms with the programming of her early formative years, her own fiercely independent nature, the traumatic events that continues to shape her life – and her fundamental yarning to belong and be at peace.
When Lene was a child she wanted to become an artist – little did she foresee that life would lead her on the path of also developing into a life artist. And a tough survivor.
Her first encounter with the possibilities of the humongous powers driving her from within - transpired when she with 18 finished College and knew she had to brake away from what were expected of her due to her socialization, milieu and gender. And decided to go to the Caribbean, making her way around the islands working as a deck-hand and finally after 1 month of reflecting upon her 5 months of experiences trying to make it on her own amongst strangers – decided for risking what she had eventually set out to do – namely crossing the Atlantic. Which she did as a team of 7. All along writing, sketching and painting. She was forced to brake away – not to loose herself.
This groundbreaking quest – changed her life possibilities. Fundamentally she discovered that it was possible for her and others alike to actually transform aspirations, dreams and visions into reality. And this experienced based knowledge – no one could take away from her. Consequence being that she kept living as a free spirit, pursuing her inner perception of how life should look like for her. Instead of succumbing to expectations and manipulations.
When she was 22 years old she lost one of her brothers in a tragic accident, which propelled her into a rough confrontation with some of the unfairness of existence. Formulating for her self the quest for – Get busy living or get busy dying.
She intuitively seemed to know that to realize her full potential would take a great amount of self sustained independence and breaking of conventional inner and outer blockings. This confrontation with some of the existential brutal facts of living – contributed to her riskwillingsness, courage, strengthening of willpower and urges to explore and expand every experienced and perceived limitation. It also set her even more apart from her contemporaries than she might have felt she were before.
After finishing law school – which she early on realized was a big mistake, but completed nevertheless. She broke free from established society and apart from working for Green-Peace for a short period has been pursuing her own version of reality including founding a consulting business inspiring others to ask following questions:
If you were to die in 24 hours – are you then living life the way you find meaningful? If not-what are you willing to do to change it?
Having experienced that death can happen to everyone – she became more adventuresome in her attempt to work through the grief and devastation.
Nature and the excessively self confronting challenges that are involved in climbing and mountaineering became her next outlet for all the conflicting and disruptive forces connected with being a creative person. She discovered the mountains when she was 24 – 2 years after her brother’s death and they probably became one of the more influential healing factors in her attempt to come to grips with reality. 10 years after she became the first Nordic woman to scale the highest mountain in the world Mount Everest. On the American expedition lead by her good friend Scott Fischer who died that fatal season on Everest in May 1996.
Which forced Lene into yet another major change of life path?
Lene kept expressing herself and her reflections upon life as she interprets it – now through writing – and her first Book – Climbing High – published by Harper Collins and now available in 13 languages – were her first global breakthrough. This success has since been followed by 10 years of successful inspiration of others.
The first years following the triumph and tragedy on Everest Lene buried her self in work. Knowing the grieving process and respecting how long it truly takes to recover fully from life’s major blows she transformed herself into a very effective performing professional. Wanting people to utilize their inborn talents to the fullest – while they still can.
As her strength returned the urge to paint keep expressing itself – which send Lene into an inner dialogue about whether it could be justified to spend time painting – when there are so much humanistic work that needs to be done in the world. Leading her to challenge her potential talent by stating silently – if you want me to paint – convince me by making me! I am not going to make it easy for you or do it by will. The urge won – and she has now for years divided her time into doing motivational work for 3-4 days a month to still contribute to the world and then painting. Lene’s work seems to keep becoming bigger and bigger and more and more expressive as she settled into allowing herself the self indulgence to paint seriously. Freeing herself from the disciplined restrictions of the writer and probably the last ensnaring imprisonment of her upbringing and socialization. Women are not expected to climb mountains and pursue the quests worthy of a renaissance man. Lene seems to have established an alliance through which an authenticity and artistic life and have been created – in the widest interpretation of the word.
Recently she had outgrown her old studio and moved to her present Castle like studio near the coast.
The theme of her abstract paintings expresses – the ever dualistic fight between the inner urges that pushes a creative human being to break free from any restriction – and the devastating experience – that the limitations of reality and what we cannot control can absolutely not be escaped. The essence being that to be able to paint – for Lene represents the possibility of concurring some of the most difficult sentiments of existence, at the same time as the actual creative process connected with being a painter is truly not controllable.