Denmark: ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum
5 September 14
With a circular rainbow walkway on top of its roof, it was hard to resist the lure of Århus’s modern art gallery, ARoS. Soon after we arrived in the facility, friendly staff talked us through the various exhibitions and offered recommendations on installations that the girls would most likely find interesting. With nine levels to explore, we opted to start in the basement and work our way up.
The girls’ usual approach is to wander through the art spaces, creating a collective commentary on what they see and how it makes them feel. Sometimes the title of the installation provides clues as to what the artist was trying to convey, but other times we were left to only explore our own reactions to the art-pieces. ARoS’s halls are wide and vast, with plenty of room for a boisterous family like ours to explore, and with English alongside the Danish text in most places.
The basement contains a set of nine darkened rooms, connected by dark corridors that are lit only by ankle-high indented lights. Several of the installations are visual projections, and generally we didn’t take the time to watch the whole thing. Instead, we moved on to static pieces which we could properly examine.
Ron Mueck’s huge, fantastically lifelike Boy dominates the open spaces of Level 1 and led to fantasies of inhabiting a world alongside giants. We haven’t seen another Mueck piece since visiting his exhibition in Brisbane, and although the girls can’t remember the artist, I was thrilled our family is becoming reacquainted with his work on the other side of the world.
The current artist-in-residence is Wes Lang — he of the American icons, skeletal characters, pinup girls and tattoo sketches. His huge paintings of Native Americans and messy working studio fascinated the girls, especially Lana who saw his discarded paintbrushes as an invitation to add her own artwork to the walls! I found myself confronted by his graphic depiction of fantasy females and wonder how I can guide my own daughters in a healthy appraisal of their bodies when society perpetuates (and even glorifies) a misogynist stereotype.
Other floors contain galleries of modern and classical art. I tend to prefer the modern installations though the girls are interested by the stories behind the portraits of the Renaissance and Romanticism periods.
Our favourite installation is by Olafur Eliasson (he who designed the rainbow walkway on the roof). His specialty is combining art and technology — often with a rainbow of colour. Your atmospheric colour atlas is a beautiful foggy room where you interact with the art by walking around, marvelling at the changing colours.
By the time we reach the roof, we’re arted out. In the two hours it’s taken to thoroughly tour the art gallery, we’ve reached our natural limit. The girls have lost their interest in the individual pieces and just want to run. Thankfully, this is the place to do it — and at the same time we can enjoy the view across Århus.
Truly, this was an exceptional art gallery, and fantastic for the kids. The staff were helpful and obliging, the labels clear and tri-lingual. I know ARoS rotates their exhibitions quite frequently, so it would be fun to visit again when other artwork was on display. If you’re in Denmark, it’s definitely worth a visit — if only for the experience of visiting the rainbow walkway on the roof!