Copenhagen 1917, Kvänjarp 2008
Erik Ortvad was born on the 6th of June, 1917 in Copenhagen. He was a painter and a graphic artist, who was known to be an autodidact. He has been painting since 1935 from a very young age. In this period his paintings were influenced by the surrealistic and abstract style of Ejler Bille (1910-2004), Vilhelm Bjerke Petersen (1909-1957) and the artists group called Linien (The Line) (1934-1949). During 1941 and 1942 Ortvad was, just like many other Danish artists and contemporaries, in search of more spontaneity in the course of his creative process. He began to paint with a more spontaneous-abstract style, at which he would use small brushstrokes to purvey his canvases on numerous occasions with the colors gray, pink, yellow and blue. Ortvad joined the Danish pre-war experimental artists association Høst (1942-1949) in 1945 as the youngest member. Through Høst he came in contact with members of CoBrA (1948-1951), an international post-war avant-garde movement that believed that art must originate from artistic freedom, fantasy and spontaneity. Ortvad’s artworks were shown in 1948 at the Van Lier gallery in Amsterdam. His artworks were also shown in 1949 and 1951 at the renowned CoBrA exhibitions in Amsterdam and Liège. Ortvad decided a year after the abolishing of CoBrA to put his paintworks aside and focus on his desire to draw cartoons. He did this under the pseudonym ‘Enrico’. After the year 1960 he directed his focus on his spontaneous painting style once again. In contrast with his earlier works, his later works are defined by a powerful characterization existing of fiercely, saturated colors, strong lines and visible brush strokes.