Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Excuse me, Excuse me!


- was the cartoonist Gerda Ploug Sarp (1881-1969) known to state with the voice of a Stentor while elbowing her way through the wall of her male colleagues. She was but a tiny thing, which only added to her insistence of taking her rightful place in life and cartooning:


Mia Mottelson, Gerda Ploug Sarp, 2015.

Mia Mottelson, Gerda Ploug Sarp, 2015. Detail.
The poster above is by Mia Mottelsen, a young cartoonist of today, born long after Gerda Ploug Sarp was no longer here in person. The poster was Mia's contribution to the challenge at this year's Copenhagen Comics, where the cartoonists of today each drew a predecessor. Mia Mottelson deliberately chose a female colleague, one of those we hardly even know of today. So let us enjoy actually SEEING Gerda Ploug Sarp.

Mia Mottelson draws Gerda's life's story as one of passion. She began at an early age, drawing her teachers, when she was supposed to do math and she married a fellow artist, with whom she could share her passion. An artist, who would not dream of twarting her artistic endeavours. The Gerda Ploug Sarp before us turns her colleagues into a soft reddish background to her acid yellow; at once a cheerful color as one of bite.


Mia Mottelson, Gerda Ploug Sarp, 2015. Detail.
At 11 Gerda was already earned a living on her passion.
A passion she was later to share with her groom.

Mia Mottelson's analysis is a meeting of two strong personalities. Mia's style is the direct opposite of Gerda's. Mia draws with fluidity, while Gerda would be precise using a tough, dark contour securing as many details as the paper would hold. She was immensely popular in her day, making certain that there was no end to the rounded rosy cheeks on the young playing in the snow, while she would pour out pixies with a generous hand for each year's Christmas cards. She was a popular choice as a portraitist for the royals and any other, who would rather see him or herself drawn ideally. 

I remember two of her drawings at the hospice, where my Mother spent her last days. Or rather, I cannot even recall the precise subject of the one, but somehow the two comprised its first patron, Queen Alexandrine with the caretaking of the ill. The combination of the compassion of the official face and the official presentation of the most personal of life could hardly come any closer to what Gerda Ploug Sarp did best

Mia Mottelson, Gerda Ploug Sarp, 2015. Detail.
The octopus of cartooning.
Mia Mottelson, Gerda Ploug Sarp, 2015. Detail.

Gerda Ploug Sarp was detailed and a bit old-fashioned even in her own day, when cartoonists too had long experimented with the notion of drawing. Mia Mottelson has chosen to tell the tale in her own line, while Gerda's line is let loose in her speech bubble. She speaks in volutes. 

Seeing Mia's poster, I for one went back to Gerda to see how much I had wronged her. The precision is still there, but I suddenly discovered the quick sharpness in her drawing technique. The determination in achieving what she set out to do. 


Mia Mottelson, Gerda Ploug Sarp, 2015. Detail.

No more so than in her book "Encaged Women" (original title: Kvinder i bur) on the detained women during the Nazi-occupation of whom she herself was one. In a situation of not knowing what might ultimately happen, the women created a normality with the constant fear lurking of being sent on to Nazi-Germany itself. Gerda Ploug Sarp as always chose to do what she did best. She had her drawings smuggled out, turning them into a book in 1945, which is today a document on the life of the inmates. These are drawings for which we crave even more detailing. We savor every tiny precision in the storing of a teacup since it takes us closer to the fact.

As Mia Mottelsen said to me: That title alone, "Encaged Women" it is pure passion in the twist of its wording. The willpower of Mia is its equal, she has created a poster of someone we hardly know today and I am floored at the thought of what I have been missing out on. 


Mia Mottelson, Gerda Ploug Sarp, 2015. Detail.

The poster shown is courtesy of Mia Mottelson and must not be reproduced without her permission.



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