Translated by Grethe Hejlesen and Jesper Hejlesen.

A sinewy semi naked man kindly helps a buried elephant out of the desert sand, and a doctor carefully examines the lungs of a tadpole. Have we entered an enchanted world where man and animal communicate and interact with each other? Have we found ourselves in a modern version of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales where the limitations defining Man’s existence on Earth no longer apply?

Possibly so… but we soon notice that the interaction is problematic. However touching it may be to see a naked man crawling into a goldfish bowl to hug a disproportionately huge eel, in order not to drown he has to wear a diving bell, somewhat curtailing the intended intimacy.

The sermonizing Stylite with his raised forefinger at the congregation appears to be in his right element. But is a congregation of earth worms able to understand his message? Without essential human senses – unconscious of sight and sound as they are – the earth worms hardly seem capable of appreciating their guru’s wisdom.

Ole Tersløse’s theme is the problematic interaction between Man and Animal, hence the title of the series “Human – Nature”. At the same time the hyphen  connects and divides the two conceptions. Man is part of Nature and yet strangely separated from Nature due to his command of language and the faculty of recognition, which sets him apart from his mute fellow beings – the Animals.

In Ole Tersløse’s world it is touching how Man and Animal care for each other while it is also tragic how frequently they misunderstand each other.

The turtle will not benefit greatly from indoctrination in Einstein’s theory of relativity, and the snake in the tree does not seem to appreciate the attention of the curious man. The inscription on its’ skin reading ‘don’t’ seems less than inviting.

In other words there is little indication that this fairy tale will reach a happy ending. Nor that this fairy tale will have an end at all.  

Before Ole Tersløse became an artist he studied literature and art history at The University of Aarhus. One of the lasting impressions from his studies was the limitations of the traditional narrative story. In traditional story telling there is an ending, a conclusion where everything falls into place which in turn diminishes the story itself, as it has addressed more problems than it is possible for the ending to resolve.

This realization inspired Ole Tersløse’s still life works. While they hint at the beginning of a story, they defy deconstruction into a beginning, a middle and an ending. Tersløse’s works say: “Once upon a time” but what happens next is left to the viewer’s interpretation.

Ole Tersløse is not only inspired by narrative theory but also by baroque and renaissance art. The carefully thought out deployment of figures is reminiscent of the classical masters’ compositions leaving no doubt that the scene is deliberately arranged.

As a modern day artist Ole Tersløse has long since abandoned paint brush and easel in favour of realizing his ideas in digital media. His images are almost exclusively created in state of the art computer programs allowing him the freedom of a painter as he is no longer confined by photographic real time recordings.

Ole Tersløse’s interest in classical art, however, delves deeper than his interest in the mere craft involved. The grandiloquent, religious paintings of the renaissance and baroque eras are at the back of his mind at all times. The naked man and the snake evokes ‘the fall from grace’, and the influence of classical pathos formula is more than suggested in the attitudes of many of his figures. It is worth noticing, however, that the religiosity of the works is not directed at any object as such. We will never be able to identify a divinity in the works. But Man’s despairing attempts at communicating with Animal could be interpreted as a mental image of Man’s attempt at making sense of the world that surrounds us.

“Sense” is for western Man inextricably bound up with language and the production of signs and their interpretation. In many of Ole Tersløse’s works Man seems intent on initiating a dialogue with Nature. Representing Nature, animal behavior does not include the use of language and Man’s approaches are thus met with utter incomprehension.

There is very little in Ole Tersløse’s fairy tale world which indicates that Man and Animal will live together happily ever after. They are alive though, as brought to life in a classical use of form through the aid of state of the art computer technology. Stylistically they are situated somewhere between Leonardo Da Vinci and Lord of the Rings, existentially between hope and despair and nobody knows how the story ends…