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Our connection to nature: An interview with artist Herman Lohe

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Herman Lohe is a Swedish multimedia artist and painter that identifies nature as his muse. His disconcerting yet calming landscapes invite the observer to seek comfort in nature and to ponder their own relationship with their surroundings. The National Student spoke to Lohe about his personal connection to the natural world, the power of art as a tool of healing, and the unbreakable bond between humans and their environment.

Herman Lohe, 'Waterlilies', 2018

The emotional connection between nature and the body is an important topic of discussion for Lohe. There is a symbiotic relationship between the viewer and the canvas, creating a sacred experience of emotional exchange. The artist believes in the positive impact of nature on people, and the power it has to heal the body and mind. “We have probably all felt it when walking in a forest or sitting by the sea,” he says, “It has a calming effect that clears the mind.”

The link between nature and the body has been an important factor in the artist’s personal life, too. “I spent a lot of time in the forest as a child,” Lohe recalls, “playing, exploring and camping, I used to call the forest my very best friend. It still is.”

Lohe’s close bond with his surroundings is echoed in his paintings: “most of my work relates to man and nature and the unbreakable bond between the two.” The intimacy of this relationship is echoed in the connection between artwork and painter. Lohe emphasises the importance of a personal dialogue between the canvas and the paintbrush: “I think the important thing is that there is communication between the two. This is one of the beauties of art.”

Herman Lohe, 'Untitled Summer', 2016

This connection goes beyond using the environment as inspiration for his work: “I also want to be able to really spend time in the wild. There is a certain kind of focus that manifests itself when spending time in the wilderness. A feeling of belonging, that you're a part of everything around you.”

The Swedish artist’s soothing paintings lend themselves to hectic and emotional environments, with his works offering a space of solace amongst the chaos. Lohe talks of his paintings being a place of refuge in hospitals in particular. “I absolutely think art has a place within the health care system,” he says, “staff, patients and visitors all benefit from an environment enriched by art.”

Lohe put these ideas into practice in his commissions. He speaks fondly of one of his pieces for an Emergency and Specialist Surgery department in a hospital in Sweden. The 4-metre-long and 2-metre-high work of water lilies in early morning mist opposes the otherwise-hectic environment. “I wanted the artwork to express silence and stillness…a brief moment of peace, maybe evoke a memory, perhaps some sort of comfort. Emphasising the importance of his work being universally relatable, the artist claims: “I wanted to do something universal and eternal, timeless – a feeling that we all can relate to. Nature.”

Herman Lohe, 'Summer Forest', 2016.

The response to this particular work pleased Lohe greatly. “One of the hospital staff told me: “every time I see this piece of work on my way to the surgery it’s like taking that deep breath before diving into water,” the artist reminisces, “that is probably one of the most touching comments I’ve been given about my art.” The connection between nature and man thrives in Lohe’s work.

Despite producing works that are used to relax people in an otherwise stressful environment, Lohe doesn’t look at his relationship with his work in the same way. “I personally never create art with the intent to heal or be therapeutic,” the artist declares, “I merely paint.”

When asked to comment on his use of universal and relatable human themes, the artist clarified “most of my work is really about conveying emotions…it is about how to touch upon the eternal questions of joy, sorrow, life and death. My practice concerns one's existence and basic needs. It is about our primary emotional connection to the natural world, nature and our surroundings.”

Herman Lohe, 'Trees at Night, The Serpentine', 2017

All images are courtesy of Herman Lohe

You can see Herman Lohe’s work in person at the London Art Fair from the 16 to 20 January. His first solo exhibition in the UK, Nordic Tales, will open at Fiumano Clase in May. To find out more information, visit their website here.

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