Jacob O. Henry is a Sculptor from The Royal Danish Academy of Art just around the corner from Brønnum.
His grandfather was a carpenter at the Danish design and furniture company Fritz Hansen; a man, who used to work with several of the greatest contributors to Danish design history.
Jacob thought that there was also going to be a future for him as a craftsman. Not long after we meet, he starts explaining how he ended up where he is now. “I had to make a change. I’m a graduated bricklayer, but after finishing six years ago something just wasn’t right. I’ve always liked drawing, so one day my brother gave me this canvas and some spray cans, and told me to go do something about it. This was not long before heard about the academy. Shortly after, I decided to apply.”
He has invited us to come visit him at his workspace. We walk through a garden filled with sculptures and materials. He names the trees as we pass through. The academy logo shows on his right hand, as he points out one of his sculptures.
“I got the tattoo a day before I started. I had a weird feeling about where I was heading after finishing my first education. I didn’t thrive. The change dropped a ton of weight of my shoulders, so this place means a lot to me; I feel like it really has affected my life.”
The sculpture is a true-to-size replica of an Arne Jacobsen chair in concrete. The same chair as he’s shaping in the video. The skills from his first education come to show. As his grandfather, Jacob also has a thing for furniture, which he includes in many of his projects. In 2016, the chair was exhibited at a Danish state prison.
”It was made for Horsens State Prison. We placed it in one of the prison yards. When looking from the cell, you were able to see blue skies and the silhouette of my chair. The chair is a symbol of what’s brought a man to prison. Chasing wealth. I made it in concrete, because it’s the same material that now surrounds him.”
We move on to his atelier as Jacob puts the Arne Jacobsen chair into a more general perspective.
“Sculpturing and art is a useful way of addressing issues from our society, by pulling out fragments and tendencies, and reshaping them into something else. You get the opportunity to confront people in new ways. That’s the strength of the object.”
Heritage and the misconception of art
Jacob also included some of his grandfather’s furniture in his own work. When he was still alive, Jacob would sometimes tease him by burning of one of his Fritz Hansen-chairs and ask for his opinion, as an artistic way of showing respect.
“I love the craftsmanship. You need to sense the person behind your concept - otherwise things lose their authenticity. That’s also what makes old, handmade furniture so special. Unfortunately, several of these classics are not made that way anymore, but I’ll be ready to promote a change if they call me from Fritz Hansen one day.”
Soon he’ll begin his last year at the academy, and we’re heading back to the yard where we met.
“This collaboration with Suit is a chance to focus on art. There’s this general misconception of art as something reserved for a special group in our society. I would like for everyone to know this, and to not be afraid of challenging it. If you want to be creative, you can. People at our school have way different background. I used to be a bricklayer, one of my friends used to study philosophy. It doesn’t matter, as long as you have the lust to create”
Click here to see the SUIT X THE ARTIST video: