Monday, February 27, 2006


In 1956 a group of young painters in Denmark decided to overcome the obstacles to get their works seen by renting a venue and make their own group exhibition. That was against the unwritten rules, which were to not form a group before all the members had been accepted several times at one of the official, censored exhibitions.
Our group consisted of six painters and two textile artists and the first years were quite successful.

The second year only half of the group showed, but we kept the name. Here I am, second from right:

The third year the art critic from the newspaper Information wrote a rather rude negative article about us and we decided to respond. We used his own words, but supplanted our name with his. It clearly brought out the quality of personal insult in his writing and we laughed uproariously while we composed it. The paper published it and the next day a sour reply from the critic who of course got the last word. He got more than that. Next year he came to our exhibition at the same time as two other critics and they had a conference right under our eyes. The day after, all three papers brought similar negative evaluation of our efforts and the number of visitors was in the one digit range with no sales at all. That became the end of our venture.
I made this satirical drawing of the critic’s conference:

Ole Strøygård, who was the most idealistic in our group, had another idea. “Let us make a censored exhibition where we let in all the young talents who are rejected by the others,” he said. That was the start of ‘Sommerudstillingen’ (The Summer Exhibition). Ole wanted us to keep in the background, so we chose a committee of six young painters to censor the works while we were doing the manual labor of carrying paintings back and forth. The first day we saw several good painters being denied and some inferior ones being accepted. The next day Ole took the committee to task and confronted them with their choices from the previous day. They had to admit that they were too conservative and after that day they changed their judgments and the resulting exhibition was sensational. Even this triumph was not to continue. Both of the official censored exhibitions opened up for all the best painters from ‘Sommerudstillingen’, which lost its ammunition and died after the second year. Still, we were happy enough with what we had achieved, it had blown a fresh wind into Danish art.

Here I am contemplating a couple of my paintings.

Friday, February 24, 2006


Cactus and herbs,
flowers and leaves,
mushrooms and mould
are gifts from the gods.
They open up for invisible realms,
(or - if visible - not seen by all)
and shine beauty over creation.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


The rumors about LSD were going round in Copenhagen in 1966. All the hippies were eager to try it. I had moved in with my friend Lone and we finally got hold of some sugar cubes with acid.
I had a biblical experience (though I am not a Christian). I was looking out the window and I saw something like the trees burning without being consumed. It was too overwhelming. I closed my eyes but there was no escape, the vision continued. I heard God’s voice saying: ”Look here! The works of creation!” and an unending stream of multidimensional wonders kept emerging from a center. Afterwards I tried to give a two dimensional version of it:

When I came outside after this experience it was into a clarified world. The plants were pulsing with life; the clouds were dancing. It took weeks before this amazing freshness faded. My paintings were influenced by a new way of seeing:

An old photo painted over:

I combined the symbols from Hinduism, Buddhism and Daoism in this drawing:

“The holy scriptures are the crutches of the spirit,” I wrote in my diary, for thanks to LSD I had experienced the reality that they describe. It widened my horizon and turned my life in a happier direction.

Sunday, February 19, 2006


This is the only thing we know for sure. At my age one naturally thinks about death with more acute interest than when one is young.
I know more dead people than alive. Every single one that was grown-up when I was a kid is now gone and even many of my contemporaries have passed away. While other people’s death is sad or tragic, sometimes shocking, one own death is very different. It is both scary and exhilarating, like leaving for the first time one’s home and traveling to unknown places.

I believe that death is to life like sleeping is to being awake.
To die is to enter a fluid state, where the collected karma of the last life rules, a state where only the most subtle part of the mind is 'alive'. The body with its heart and brain is dead and gone. I believe that in death we experience a new kind of dream-reality, where our impulses instantly create the landscape. The memory of this earthly life subsides like another dream and is forgotten. In the same way as language is inadequate to fully describe dreams, I think it is impossible to describe what happens in death, but to die is a most natural thing and though we have forgotten that we have been through it before, I believe we do know about it.
There are many references in different cultures to a judgment after death. Maybe we are haunted by the thoughts the living have about us, so that the judgment comes down to how much we had been separated from others, how much we had been attached to our illusory self.
I definitely believe in reincarnation. It is the only reasonable explanation for the apparent injustice of the different circumstances of birth. Beauty, health and wealth are unevenly distributed. That is part of the judgment which is really the consequences of one’s own actions, i. e. one’s karma.

This is Yamantaka, the conqueror of death.
According to Buddhist view death is conquered when we go through the process of dying without loss of consciousness. This is obtained by the practice of meditation until one’s true nature is realized.
I have unfortunately not reached anything like that, but I do have faith in the Spirit. I do not believe that the sufferings in death will be worse than the sufferings in life and I am ready to accept death joyfully when it comes.
Dao, another name for the Great Spirit:

Friday, February 17, 2006


From my homeland I have had the sad news that the painter Jens Nordsø, an old friend of mine, passed away on February 10 and was buried today. I found these two pictures of his paintings on the net and would like to share them with you.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


In my post LABBEVILLE I mentioned that I had been in prison in Morocco and some have asked for the story. Here it is – with no pictures this time.

I was living in Marrakesh and traveled up to Meknès to buy kif. I couldn’t find my contact from when I lived in Sidi Ali two years earlier, but I found another guy who seemed OK. It turned out he was not. When I got my packet next day it contained less I had been promised and I let him know that I was not satisfied. I am sure he alerted the police, maybe as revenge, for he knew that I was leaving the next morning and when I arrived at the bus station two soldiers zoomed in on me right away and wanted to check my bag. I was taken to the police station and left alone with a cop in the reception. He opened my packet, took out some of the kif and put it in his drawer while he winked at me.
A couple of days later, while I was still in the detention at police headquarters, I was delivered to the secret police. They took me on a ride where I had to sit with the head down so I couldn’t see where we were going. We stopped by a small square villa with newspaper glued over all windows and I was lead into a room with a huge table that must have been built inside the room; it was so big that it left just enough space to get around it and to have chairs on two sides. The whole room was gray and there was nothing but the table, the chairs and a little nasty fellow looking exactly like Göebbles, Hitler’s propaganda minister. He placed a brown dossier on the table and said: “We know you are a spy. Now tell us: what is your mission in Morocco?”
“I am not a spy!”
“We know you are a spy. What is your mission in Morocco?
“I am not a spy!!”
He patted the dossier: “We know you are a spy. And you will tell us what your mission is. Nobody knows you are here; nobody cares what happen to you.”
Now they took me outside and down a staircase to a cemented cellar inhabited by a freaky monster of a guy holding an electric device with wires dangling. Göebbles asked again about my mission and in my desperation one possible savior stood out in my mind, an acquaintance in Marrakesh whom I suspected of being in the secret police. I said: “Ask Mr. Kissioui in Marrakesh; he knows I am not a spy.” For the first time my words seemed to make an impression. Göebbles disappeared and left me with the brute. I was scared they would kill me and I prayed from the depth of my heart: “Make me strong. I am not afraid of death, but give me strength to bear the pain.”
About fifteen minutes passed. It was not Göebbles that came down the stairs, but a jovial, rotund Moroccan in his early thirties. He took me from the cellar and brought me back to his pleasant office at police headquarters. He asked me quite personal questions and seemed to understand what I was doing. Through him some mysterious happenings in Sidi Ali were explained. There were two warring groups in Sidi Ali, and enemies of those who had taken me in had tried to prevent my move to their village. When they had not succeeded, they had denounced me as a spy to the secret police whose suspicions had then been aroused when I returned after two years.
His last question to me was: would I become a spy - would I contact the newcomers in Marrakesh and find out if they had political aims? I would be free to go this moment and be paid and have as much of the best kif as I wanted to smoke.
I told him I could not do this, and he seemed to understand that too, but it spelt the end of his interest in me. I was shipped back to the detention.
The detention was a room, maybe 12x15 feet, with a door in the corner with an 8x8 inch window. The bathroom facilities were a faucet and a hole in the floor. Here I passed ten days with a dozen others and a thousand lice. The place by the window was cherished because only there was it light enough to hunt for and exterminate the lice that hid in the seams of the clothing. We slept on the cement floor and had one stale bread each daily and plenty of water from the faucet.
The prison was more comfortable. We were three in a one-man cell, and, besides the bread, we had watery cabbage soup and, in the morning, some murky, tepid water that was called coffee. One cellmate, whose crime was drinking wine, received food from his family a couple of days a week and he shared with us. Moroccan home cooking is the best! It was tantalizing because there was never enough between the three of us and the cabbage soup lost any appeal hunger could have given it.
We were let out in a courtyard every day. Here I heard many sad stories. For example: Mohamed had been caught stealing an orange in the king’s garden that is open to the public. He had now passed two years in prison without seeing a lawyer or a judge.
I was treated better that the Moroccans i. e. I was not beaten. Their favorite interrogation technique was beating the soles of the feet and one time they amused themselves with letting me witness the procedure. The nasty thing is that afterwards, when you are forced to walk, it repeats the torture.
A month passed before anything happened in my case. Then I was taken to court and sentenced. For the kif: three months suspended; for the homegrown tobacco that is traditionally sold with the kif and is illegal because it bypasses the Tobacco Monopoly: four months or $1000. That was a lot of money in 1967, more like $10.000 today and impossible for me to pay. I had been told many times that, oh, they’ll let you go, it’s nothing, so I was quite downcast after the sentencing, but two days after somebody arrived from the Danish embassy ready to help me. I asked him to go to the Tobacco Monopoly and ask for a reduction in the fine and he came back with good news. They had reduced the fine to $100. After contacting my family who vouched for my payment, the embassy paid the fine and I was free. FREE!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


What combination of dumb matter could generate intelligence? Intelligence can only arise because it is already there in every part of the universe?
Before the Big Bang - or however the universe was created - there must have been something with the potential and the intelligence to create a universe. This mysterious creator – let me call it the Great Spirit – could not take the material for creation out of somewhere other than its own potential. Therefore all energy and matter manifest in the universe must essentially consist of Spirit. Not only the evolvement of the humans but all of creation shows intelligent design. Evolution is intelligent design! Where is the argument?
The argument is about the designer. The promoters of intelligent design want it to be an alternative to evolution and they want the designer to be their God, some kind of entity, separate from creation, whose will they know.

To illustrate the infinite intelligence of nature we construct mandalas. The mandala illustrates some aspect of the intelligent design by arranging a limited amount of elements in their mutual relations. Above is an example of sacred geometry: seven circles touching each other and expanding from the center in repetitions of the same pattern.
The next is an arrangement of the Zodiac with their governing planets:

A horoscope is a form of mandala giving the astrological aspects of one person. This one I painted for a friend with the sun in Capricorn, the moon in Scorpio and Cancer rising:

This last one is a Body-Mind Mandala built over the Chinese concepts of Yin and Yang:

Click on pic to get full size!

Hello visitors – if there are any –let me know you were there; leave a comment, please!

Sunday, February 12, 2006


The most important person in my life was Lame Thubten Yeshe. I met him in 1970 at his center in Kopan in the Kathmandu valley. He was 35 years old, and at first he just seemed to be another extremely friendly Tibetan, as had been all the ones I met on my trek into the mountains.
As I got to know him, I became fascinated with the way he dealt with us troubled Westerners. His style was extreme kindness and sometimes it took long for me to realize the strength of his non-interference.
For example an American girl arrived who insisted on meditating in the extreme. She did not talk or wash herself or eat, she just sat, and Thubten Yeshe said: “That’s very good. Meditation very good!” I thought it was too much; something should be done! But it went on and on for two weeks until hunger and exhaustion overcame her and she keeled over. Her father came and brought her home. Later she wrote a letter and thanked Lama Yeshe; the experience, she said, had been of great help to her.
I took this picture of Lama Yeshe in California the last summer before he passed away on the morning of the Tibetan New Year in 1984.

In the beginning at Kopan, Lama Yeshe would teach in Tibetan every Wednesday afternoon with Lama Zopa Rimpoche as translator. I must admit that I went as a duty. The sentences unfolded slowly, slowly, and the talk was of hungry ghosts and of eight cold hells and the various pains suffered in them, and it was not clear to me how this connected to my life.
It was the way in which Lamas Yeshe dealt with the craziest situations and turned them into learning experiences that made it clear to me what an exceptional being he was.
I remember once when my Tibetan neighbor on the other side of a plywood wall started bumping things around at five in the morning. I knocked on the wall and he responded with a powerful thump that dislodged a framed picture. In no time the Tibetan monk and I were facing each other outside and the tempers were up, but before it came to blows Lama materialized next to us saying: "Excuse me - excuse me!" That cooled me down right away, and I could only say: "Excuse me!" I thought I had overcome anger!
When Lama Yeshe started his Sunday talks in English, the teachings began to make sense to me. Lama immediately found his style, the directness that was fit to our understanding. One image still stands clear in my mind: When he talked about how we add qualifications to the objects, he said: "Now if there was dog kaka there, you would think: 'How disgusting!'" - and he was such a conjurer that I had a vision of the dog turd right in front of me - "But if a dog came in", he said, while he leaned forward and sniffed, "it would just sniff it and think: 'Oh, how interesting!'"
I had the great good fortune to be Lamas attendant when he was in Santa Cruz the last summer before he passed away. It was pure joy to be with him. His kindness knew no limit; he was like a bosom friend. For example when his comrade from the monastery in Tibet, Geshe Gyatso, was visiting and they spoke in Tibetan, he would stop and translate the gist of their conversation for me.
One Sunday we watched a tear-jerking movie on TV about a boy that got lost and then reunited with his family. I felt a little ashamed of how much I cried, but when the movie was over and I turned to Lama, his cheeks were completely wet and we burst out laughing.
Lama showed a keen interest in my life and asked me intimate questions about both my sex life and my beliefs.
“You have girlfriend?” he asked.
“ No, I have a boyfriend,” I said.
“Maybe that’s even better - you really know each other,” he said and held his two index fingers next to each other. “It’s like Tantra,” and after a pause: “if you don’t loose energy!” This was often the way he gave his teachings to me, just a short remark aside, but it stuck in my mind.
I told him that my sexual preference had been a problem for me and he said with angry emphasis: “Don’t listen to society. They are so stupid!”

The things that I learned from Lama Yeshe:
First of all: pure love is the love that is equal for all sentient beings.
Second: whatever happens, it is my karma created by me, and I can blame only my self.
Third: there is only one absolute truth, Sunyata. Anything that can be described is at best a relative truth.
Fourth: no action is inherently good or bad; it all depends on the motivation.

Thursday, February 09, 2006


I was living in Meknès in Morocco (1965). Across the valley stand the Zerhoun mountains and on their slopes a small village was gleaming white and calling at me to explore. The village is called Sidi Ali after the saint whose shrine is there. I went with my friend Ben Salem and a friend of his to check it out. Ben Salem had a small cubbyhole of a shop that sold odds and ends; he was dirt poor but had a heart of gold.
Arrived in Sidi Ali we go down to the spring and wash: hands, mouth, nose, face, arms, ears, and head. At the end: the feet. Ben Salem and I are content with looking over the holy man’s shrine and kiss the sarcophagus, but the friend prays for so long, that Ben Salem have to call him several times. He brings us two small bend stumps of candle and gives the straightest to Ben Salem and the biggest to me. “Light it from time to time when you are alone and pray to Sidi Ali,” says Ben Salem.

I decide to look for a place to stay in Sidi Ali and I go there with a young friend to translate. We wander about in the village that seems to consist of ruins. The village retard joins us and is optimistic; otherwise we see no one. It is late in the morning and everybody is indoors. We go back to the square and order tea in the café. Soon the talk starts and my friend asks for a house and enumerates my virtues. A man who lies stretched by the window in the farthest end of the café says something and my friend translates: “He has a house that is missing door and window. If you put them in you can stay there.”
“How long?”
“A year or two; as long as you want.”
“What does it cost?”
“Nothing! Favor!”
“Let us look at it!” We enter the shop next to the café and go through a trapdoor in the back wall into the garden. The garden makes a deep impression, one of these places where the spirits of nature seek refuge and fill the atmosphere with a mystic quiet. The house is a small mossy ruin hidden behind two old fig trees, but the roof is new and the rest seems to be easy to fix.
“Yes,” I say, “yes, that’s fine.”
My landlord’s name is Sid Srer and translates as Mr. Little. This is he:

After the house is fixed all I have to do is paint:

and paint. This is a verse from the Koran:

and this from the entrance to the holy city of Moulay Idriss, the closest town:

This is one of the elders in the village:

It is funny how the turbans express their owner’s character!
I will come back to Sidi Ali later.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


This is a drawing I made in Labbeville in France back in 1967. I had been in prison in Morocco and was afterwards thrown out of the country. I was broke but not ready to go home, it felt too much like defeat. With my last money I took the train to Algier:

From there I headed south hitch-hiking.
I arrived in the oasis of Ghardaia at 2 in the morning, slept for a while, and went to the marketplace at about 7am when it began to come to life:

I stayed in Ghardaia two blistering hot months and became caretaker of a big ugly house where my job was to water the small seedling plants in the sandy garden. I slept on the roof under the brillant stars, and when the days heated up I enjoyed to cool down in the water reservoir.

I found a customer for a portrait and soon it was known in town that I painted portraits. One man had a blurred picture of his deceased father and wanted me to make a picture from that. I began to paint directly on the photo and out of the blur a face grew. Was it the fathers face? I had no idea but there was no way back. It was with some trepidation that I delivered the picture, but the man, whose father had been dead 40 years, obviously didn't remember how he looked and was satisfied with my version.
Here is one of the portraits I did that was not picked up:

I got in a partnership with a local painter and did a big painting for a hotel in the desert. When I came to se it in place, it was signed «Soliman» with a flourish. I had my artists pride and objected to his signing of my work. That cost me both my job and my pay!
Luckily some money had arrived from home, for I had had enough of my solitary life. Still, I was not quite ready for home, and that's how I ended up with my friends Gunnar and Anne Marie in Labbeville. They were both artists and after all my hardships it was comforting and inspiring to stay in their house.
Here you see them both working:

This is another picture from the French countryside near Labbeville. This is from my second visit, for I came back for Christmas about three monhs later.

I have twisted my brain on how to do this blog. So, I decided to jump right into it with a random picture see where it brings me.