Art in General

Image Andreas Szlavik.
© Polfoto.
"...if one can decide to become an actor, it's not the same for art - there is no starting point, it's there, in you, that's all." - Viggo Mortensen

Art in General

Photography, acting, painting, poetry, music...what would you give up?

"Nothing! It's like if you asked me what arm I prefer.

Viggo Mortensen, The Photographer Of Dreams
By Giovanni Valerio - translated by Cindalea
July 2008
Source: Panorama First

...does he worry that people will just dismiss his eclectic works as mere half-arsed nixers of an over-indulged Hollywood star?

"I was drawing and painting and writing poems before I did acting, but people are going to make up their own minds about you anyway," he replies. "I feel it's personally a waste of time and inevitably a frustrating exercise to try to accommodate others all the time, or to try to please everyone.

Analysis of dream career
by Declan Cashin
Irish Examiner
15 February 2012

"A photo, a painting, a poem or music that we use to express our experience is not the main thing, but what you are expressing. How you sense the world around you is art in its own form. To stop for one silent moment and just see what happens."

Viggo Mortensen
Margt til lista lagt article from Fréttablaðið
Translated by Ragga
June 2008

"I've always loved the kind of isolation that comes from intensely devoting yourself to art forms like painting or poetry or whatever. That's also what makes being an actor so fulfilling in that you can share the creative process and get out of your own head."

Viggo Mortensen Goes Back to His Roots for 'Everyone Has A Plan'
19 April 2013

"Creative expression is social change. Wear your feelings on everything you do. It will help people open up their minds and see themselves and their communities in new ways."

Actor Viggo Mortensen urges expression
by Kaci Yoder
Desert Sun
7 July 2013

" know, no one looks at the world like it really is. Everyone looks at the world like they want it to be. When it comes down to it, everyone is in their own 'dream world', we could become crazy if we thought of the world like it really is."

Viggo Mortensen
Dreaming About Telling Stories
By Einar Fal Ingolfsson - translated by Rosen and Ragga
29 May 2008
Source: Morgunblaðið

"I'm an observer. An artist. But I think that all people are artists. You go walking down the street and hear something that a person says and already you're imagining something about the life of that person."

"We are all artists" - Viggo Mortensen
By Susana Parejas - translated by Ollie and Zoe
7 Dias
2 September 2012

"If you're going to prepare your role as an actor or as a director properly that takes quite a lot of time and focus and energy.....But you know, I manage to get off a few pictures, take a few pictures, write a few things down late at night in hotel rooms as I bounce around the world."

Viggo Mortensen
Air America Radio Interview
Transcribed for V-W by Zooey
12 September 2007

'...if one can decide to become an actor, it's not the same for art - there is no starting point, it's there, in you, that's all."

Viggo Mortensen
Viggo Mortensen: The Soul of a Warrior
by Juliette Michaud
Studio Magazine
December 2002

'To be an artist is to remain conscious of your surroundings, and I believe that we all have that capacity. Children have it and, as they grow up, they lose it.'

Viggo Mortensen
I wouldn't look the Alatristes of today in the eye
By Oskar L. Belategui, translated for V-W bu Margarita
Hoy Sociedad
3 September 2006

"Dennis [Hopper] believed that to be an artist, you had to embrace all the arts. Viggo has his photography, painting, writing, poetry and philosophical musings in addition to his acting ability, and he has no great ego as an artist. He allows the art to move through him like a vessel, which is how Dennis saw the world."

Find 4 Change and AMFM Fest co-director Robert Galarza talking about Viggo being awarded the 4th Dennis Lee Hopper Award
The Wrap
23 May 2013

"I usually use the excuse that everything is abstract. That way, I can do whatever I want. And if you don't like it, it's because you don't get it," he joked.

Viggo joking about his art
Viggo Mortensen Brings The Law Of Appaloosa To Madrid
By Jose Arce - translated by Graciela
20 November 2008
Source: La Butaca

His work is a trace of his own adventure, lived openly and exploratively, with curiosity and a constant sense of surprise.

Kevin Power
Viggo Mortensen: A Life Tracking Itself
Singlanguage 2002

As if he weren't a talented enough actor, Mortensen is also a singular fine artist and poet. The paintings and drawings in this book suck you in with their beauty and vague sense of menace. His words are simple and vast, and his photography reminds you of the best of William Eggleston and Walker Evans.

Best books: Recent Forgeries ... chosen by Neil LaBute
The Week
3 April 2009

"People who are creators create," he says. "People say to me all the time, 'Why don't you just focus on one thing?' And I say, 'Why? Why just one thing? Why can't I do more? Who makes up these rules?"

Viggo Mortensen
Finding Viggo
By Alex Kuczynski
Vanity Fair magazine, January 2004

"If Mortensen were locked in a box in a prison in total darkness, with no pens, no tools, no books," Hopper says, "he would make something amazing out of it."

Dennis Hopper
Finding Viggo,
By Alex Kuczynski
Vanity Fair magazine, January 2004

Hopper believes Mortensen's passion for the arts is genuine: "Rainer Maria Rilke said something like, 'If you ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night, if it were denied you to create, would you truly die?'" Hopper says. "I know that Viggo has asked himself that question and his answer was 'Yes.'"

Dennis Hopper
The Hero Returns
By Tom Roston
Premiere 2003

"He doesn't need to paint for a living. But in order to live, he needs to paint."

Robert Mann, New York Gallerist
The American Dane
by Susanne Johansson - Translation by Majken Steen Thomassen
Berlingske Tidende, 2001

'Inspiration is a notion, an impulse that has its own shape, before you stumble onto it. If you're in too much of a hurry, you try to tell it what it is, instead of having it tell you what it is. And I think if you do that, you're gonna miss out.'

Viggo Mortensen
Viggo Mortensen ('80) Remembers
By Macreena A. Doyle
St. Lawrence University, 2003

"I think I'm essentially hopeful and the reason that I paint or photograph or listen to someone who is speaking to me is that I hope something might happen."

The Man Who Would Be King
by Nick Dent
Black & White magazine 2001

Asked about his favourite medium - photography, painting or writing - Viggo Mortensen says it's all part of the same continuum. "You ask the question, you investigate, you make that extra effort to be aware and express your reaction to your surroundings," he says. "Whether you paint or act or write, you're giving importance to a given moment, a place, an emotion, and you're communicating the discoveries you've made as you engage in that process. So in that sense, everything is connected."

Viggo Mortensen, Photographer
Massey University, 2003

"I didn't know about his acting," said Mann, "but I do know he's incredibly gifted as a visual artist. He is a very multifaceted and slightly compulsive individual, constantly creating in every medium. His creative energy is boundless; I assume acting is another extension of that."

Robert Mann, New York Gallerist
In the Spotlight But Shining On Its Own - Celebrity Art
by Lisa Crawford Watson
Art Business News, 2001

'I'd do it [acting]for myself anyway. Before I got into acting, I was interested in one way or another in photography or writing stories or poems or making drawings or something because I like doing it. That's who I am. That's my way of being in the world. I imagine I'll keep doing things that way. Who knows? Part of being in the world is being open to changing your mind. But so far, I haven't changed my mind about that. That's what makes me comfortable.'

Viggo Mortensen
A Sense of Finality
by Markus Tschiedert
Green Cine, 2003

'Make it [art] purely to please yourself and then there's a chance to please someone else -- that's what it means to me. Everyone has a few friends that they can listen to. You don't have to agree with them, but their opinion is worthwhile. If you're trying to please everyone, then you're not going to make anything that is honestly yours, I don't think, in the long run.'

Viggo Mortensen
A Religious Moment Where Something Might Happen
by Scott Thill
Morphizm 2002

He leaves no room for ambivalence, he will force you to have an opinion of his work, whether positive or negative it doesn't matter. But there is not a chance of someone saying "Oh isn't that nice".

Viggo Mortensen: An Artist For All Seasons
by Richard Marcus
BNN Blogger News Network May 6th, 2005

'So much has already been done and there's not much that's new,' he concludes. 'You can't let that stop you though, because the actual exercise of just poking around the debris is worthwhile. Even if you produce stuff that's interesting to nobody but yourself, the activity justifies itself. Making things is a way of finding out.'

Treasure Island: A visit with Viggo Mortensen
Recent Forgeries
Kristine McKenna 1998

'Because of how I was brought up, I go along with it for a while when someone tells me about a rule, but eventually I always end up asking myself: Why does it have to be this way?'

Treasure Island: A visit with Viggo Mortensen
Recent Forgeries
Kristine McKenna 1998

He has mounted a half-dozen solo exhibitions in Cuba, Denmark, New York, and Los Angeles. His New York dealer, Robert Mann, says he had no idea who Mortensen was when he first met him four years ago.

"The Lord of the Rings wasn't out, and I was clueless about that part of his life' Mann says. "I saw the work and responded to it on its own merit. There's a lot of volatility to it, a lot of emotion, a lot of subtext and sensitivity." Mann says that, typically, celebrity art implies an underlying dilettantism. But Mortensen "is not a dabbler. I consider him a very lucky and talented person. Most artists are lucky to express themselves in one avenue."

Robert Mann, New York Gallerist
Finding Viggo
By Alex Kuczynski
Vanity Fair magazine, January 2004

Mortensen's work - photographs, paintings, and poems - all seems to me to be intensely autobiographical. I mean that his works are autobiographical in the sense that Robert Creeley gives to this term, "auto-bio-graphy', which felicitously translates as "as life tracking itself'.

Kevin Power
Viggo Mortensen: A Life Tracking Itself
Singlanguage 2002

Last edited: 29 June 2014 04:51:24