Mika Utzon Popov's peripatetic life has unfolded between and beyond the beech forests of Denmark, Sydney's sun-drenched Northern Beaches, and the cliffs of Mallorca – locales that are indelibly imprinted on both his personal philosophy and artistic output. Equally formative was an upbringing within the orbit of Jørn Utzon – an architectural legend who instilled within his grandson a sensitivity to the poetics of light and space, and the limitless potential of their interrelationship.


'Courage' at the OLSEN Gallery in Sydney will consolidate the many material and conceptual chapters of a highly diverse oeuvre. Utzon Popov describes his vision of the show as "an amalgam of my two-dimensional and three-dimensional work with bronze and textiles, plaster and paper, allowing these things to speak together in a similar voice." Anchoring the exhibition will be a suite of new tapestries that build on the cultural heritage of the Balearic Islands, a location, like Denmark, exudes a gravitational pull of the artist.


True to his Scandinavian roots, Utzon Popov was interested in exploring the effect of textiles to enhance the hygge or cosiness of a space through the softening of sound and the comforting nature of their tactility. Expanding on previous incarnations, the new works will feature much longer threads, variously plaited, entwined, and unprocessed, such that the colour will spill forth into the room. Embedded within this stylistic device is a subtle reference to Norse mythology, specifically the Norn deities Uror, Veronandi and Skuld, who are responsible for weaving the threads of fate. Utzon Popov notes that "I like the idea that the stories that pour out of these tapestries speak to the uncanny connections and random events that define our lives and form our totality.


Excerpts from Artist Profile Issue 63. Story by Pippa Mott, May 2023