Ernst Altien

After 2018.


Yes I am getting old, he told me. I never thought it would happen to me. Of course I should have know that all these days would change me, but I just thought I could go on for ever. 

He smiled and his face curled up like an old paper in the fireplace. We were standing in a parking place near Vessigebro, Sweden. As young boys we had  been together in Folkpark of Falkenberg listening to the music, especially the man playing the hawai guitar. Now so many years later I was in a great hurry to get back to Denmark because of the Corona and had no time to visit him in his remote studio. It made him a bit grumpy. I thought you would stay with me for some time, he told me. Yes I said, I will come back. 

I have two paintings for you, he said, and fetched them from the backseat of his old car, a battered volvo. But there is a condition you have to fullfill to get them. 

- ok, wondering what came next 

Yes, they are a bit sinister especially the portrait of you as you will look 15 years from now. I donīt like that kind of thinking any more, the hour is getting too late. So it is a gift to you but the condition is, that we together paint them over for new use. It will not change anything, but give some kind of consolation. And I want you to give me one of them back after you have painted a new story on it. I mean, now when you have become a painter yourself. 

But we could not cover them with paint standing in the drizzle and the fading light of the afternoon surrounded by other cars and the row of old willow trees around us. Ok, he said, I know you want to go back to Denmark, but we have work to do. 

I could not resist his wish and followed him to his studio hidden far away in the Swedish woodland. We arrived at a cold, dark little house made of wood and painted red. It was a bit damp inside, but when he brought out a bottle of red wine and lit the fireplace, I forgot all about it. So the night came and went, the lights changed, the pictures were covered with white color, and we talked a lot. I will never forget the longing for the moment to stretch on for ever. I, of course forgot to phone my love, so she got a bit worried and called me in the grey morning light. I left Ernst and drowe home with two white canvasses in the back of the car - and a lot of memories - and thoughts of the future.  

When I left him, he raised his hand to say goodbye. I could not hear his words. But I waved back. 

You can see the results of the work below. How my painting for him is going to be, I donīt know yet.