Nes Lerpa

Nes Lerpa – Colori Nomadi from Kim Dang Trong on Vimeo.

Nes Lerpa
b. 1942, Copenhagen
Painter and ceramist

The Sami-name Nes Lerpa gives the impression that we are here dealing with a man who comes from more northern latitudes than our own. But this is not the case – Nes Lerpa was born in Copenhagen in 1942, and has as the son of the painter Ejner R. Kragh, art and the artistic process incorporated in his life from his early childhood. As early as in 1960 Nes Lerpa made his artistic debut, and during his carrier he develops and expresses an unique artistic nerve, which not only places itself in a very different direction from his father’s art, but also situates itself far from Denmark and opposes many of the established societal norms.

From the global to the local

With exhibitions in almost every country from The Netherlands to Taiwan, Lerpa can be defined to be an artistic globetrotter. Travel also becomes a fundamental inspirational source. Lerpa’s artistic production has its outlet from two locations; his studio and home in Asserbo in Denmark, and from the mountains behind Piacenza in the north of Italy. Besides these two residencies, Lerpa has travelled around most of the world, staying for longer periods of time in Spain, France, England, Italy, Lapland, Morocco and India. Despite of this, Lerpa has not forgotten about the small and local aspects of life. His gleaming involvement with the community is a clear proof of this. His engaging with projects such as Christiania’s freedom and the political situation in Tibet is here to be noticed, but not to overlook cases such as the one of the nature reserve ”Melby Overdrev” that is placed close to Lerpa’s studio in Asserbo. Together with a group of friends, Lerpa has fought to protect the reserves beautiful environment – a natural habitat that in many ways creates the background for Lerpa’s dreamy, breath-taking and sensitive expression. Just as natures sometimes unpredictable temper, Lerpa also works in different ways – sometimes furious and other times in a gentle manner. No matter what he always creates his artworks with great passion, that brings with it an unique honesty and creative desire that sometimes can be hard to control and contain, as we for example see in Lerpa’s use of enormous canvasses.

The limitless expression

Lerpa’s sensuous approach to art and his passionate way of working is also visible in the great variety in ways of expression that he uses. In Galerie Birch we have a continuing selection of mainly Lerpa’s ceramic artworks, but his different forms of expression and artistic interactions range all the way from music and scenography to architecture. In the concert-exhibition that took place at Palazzo Visconti in Italy, the different arts were united as a whole, with the intention to create a space in which a possibility to contemplate with the artworks is created. Lerpa’s poetic handling of the visual is also shown in his own reflections about the project: “ Time travel, the forces of the past, myth, the journey in the palace that represents all palaces, their greatness and heaviness stand before a never-ending journey – a journey without time, without limits, without boundaries, without conditions.”
A sense of spirituality and spontaneity goes hand in hand with deep and thoughtful reflections on life and the surrounding world – painted, formed and materialized in Lerpa’s aesthetical artworks.

COBRA – from inspiration to liberation

Nes Lerpa’s colorful ceramics are produced at the two world famous pottery workshops Ceramica Ibis that is placed north of Varese, and Ceramiche San Giorgo in Albissola.
Ceramiche San Giorgo is the same pottery workshop where Asger Jorn once worked and produced his ceramic artworks, and not only this connects the two artists with each other. The liberation from all national borders is also a way of living and working for both artists, and also the interest in expressing themselves through different manners of expression. Lerpa’s motifs have likewise changed to consist of abstract expressionistic shapes, with a great concentration on the use of color. An artistic nerve which for both artists is super-sensitive and which leaves behind the most intriguing artworks of the impressions they are exposed to.

A Nordic guerilla artist

During the years from 1985 to 1992 Lerpa together with a group of colleagues edited and published the magazine “ Il Colpo dei Barbari” (in English, The stroke of the Barbarian) which very well can be seen in connection with Asger Jorn and his involvement with the magazine “Helhesten.” Just as the persons involved in the COBRA-movement had to fight to share their thoughts and ideas of an alternative society in the gloomy post-war period, Lerpa is also in war against the dominating constructions of society. In an aesthetical manner, he reflects about and opposes the superficial and consumer-oriented way of living. It is not enough for him to stop and dwell in the same conceptions of the COBRA-movement. Lerpa is fully aware of that he has to go beyond this and relate to the current conditions of society, which is characterized by other conditions than previously. With color, sensuality and the notions of harmony and chaos as his focal points, Lerpa shows us how an alternate world could look like. His visionary and spontaneous so-called “psykomaleri” does not show any signs of fear – it without compromise stares straight in the eye of its viewer, where it tentatively both gives answers and asks questions.

Chosen exhibitions


2012 – Galerie Birch: ‘Versicolora’, Copenhagen
2012 – The Opera House, Takkelloftet: ‘Oración del Fuego’, Copenhagen
2000 – Portalen: ‘Abyss with painted Wings’, Greve (Copenhagen)
1999 – Nordvesten: ‘At møde det ukendte’, Lemvig
1990 – The Museum for Contemporary Art: ‘The Barbarian Blow No. 7’, Roskilde
1983 – Esbjerg Kunstpavillon: ‘Incontro Italia-Danimarca (The meeting of Italy and Denmark)’, Esbjerg
1978 – Sophienholm, Kgs. Lyngby
1977 – Galleri Gammel Mønt, Copenhagen
1961 – Galleri Henning Larsen, Copenhagen


2013 – Atelier Capricorno: ‘La Sagra della Primavera’, Cocquio, Varese
2013 – Museo della Ceramica & Centro espositivo S. Stefano: ‘Vichingo dei Colori’, Mondovì, Piemonte
2013 – Town Hall Palace: ‘Arte & Vino/ Vino & Arte’, Ziano Piacentino
2012 – Il Filatoio: ‘Miche Berra – una storia di arte e vita’, Caraglio ( Cuneo)
2012 – Museo Fornace Alba Docilia : ‘Bacini mediterranei ad Albisola’, Albisola Marina
2002 – Chiostro di Voltorre
2001 – Ceramica Ibis, Cunardo (Varese)
1985 – Centro Culturale Lusca: ‘Boreale (Notherly)’, Milano,
1985 – Galleria II Traghetto, Venezia
1985 – The Bari Art Fair, Bari


1983 – Museum of Modern Art, Seoul


1982 – The Artists’ House: ‘Drakabygget’, Oslo


2008 – Rök, Vättern: ‘SOS Tibet ‘, Note
2002 – Heidruns Bok och Bildcafé, Fensbol, Värmland
1999 – Härnösands Konsthall: ‘Abyss with painted wings’, Härnösand

1988 – Stockholm Art fair
1985 – Galleri Danielson, Öland
1984 – Stockholm Art fair


1994 – Duttweiler Institut: ‘Die Malerei wandert auf anderen Materialien in neue Welten’, Zürich,
1983 – Basel Art Fair, Basel


1989 – Graphic Biennale of Taipei, Taipei
1984 – Spring Gallery, Taipei

United Arab Emirates

2005 – Sharjah Art Museum


1986 – Lawrence Ross Galleries, Los Angeles
1974 – The Sean Desmond Gallery, New York
1971 – The Arnold Gallery, Tampa (Florida)