Back in 2019, Erik A. Frandsen agreed to take a trip around Italy that would prove to have tremendous impact on his artistic process, while simultaneously sparking a newfound passion for the mythology of a singular sport.
Erik A. Frandsen rarely does anything half-heartedly, and when journalist and author Brian Nygaard asked him to illustrate a series of articles on the 2019 Giro d’Italia for Danish newspaper Weekendavisen, Frandsen didn’t think twice about his counteroffer: Not only would he produce a drawing for each weekly analysis; he would embark on a three-week-trip with Nygaard tailing the peloton through Italy. This way, while Nygaard covered the race in writing, Frandsen could work on transforming his impressions of the race and scenery into drawings.
And so it went. Frandsen and Nygaard shadowed the field around the country they both know so well, and once a week, the readers of Weekendavisen could follow their intense endeavors to capture the spirit of the race.
However, when the trip was over, Frandsen couldn’t seem to shake this newfound imagery, and as the Tour de France began that summer, Frandsen found himself in front of the tv-screen back in Denmark, carefully reenacting scenes from each stage in dry pastel on paper. In addition to his fascination with the spectacle of the sport, Frandsen had fallen in love with his new way of working. The speed with which the pictures had to be captured and retained was so fundamentally different to the inherent slowness of oil painting that he felt a sense of sudden freedom.
After the Tour de France, other races came and went - the World Cup, Vuelta a España, the autumn classics - and when the season ended with Giro di Lombardia by Lake Como, where for years Erik A. Frandsen has spent his summers, the two friends had suddenly - and somewhat by coincidence - captured a whole year of cycling in both words and pictures. These accounts were collected in the acclaimed book “iltgæld”, which was published by Gyldendal in May of 2020. It was the first time, Frandsen’s amazing production of drawings was presented in its entirety.
Although in theory the publication marked the end of chapter for Frandsen, he has since continued depicting the most iconic moments of cycling. In 2021, a gigantic frieze of drawings from the 2020 Tour was presented in the exhibition “Art of Sport” at Copenhagen Contemporary, and it is this series of drawings – in a revised format and on the occasion of the Grand Depart in Copenhagen - that Hans Alf Gallery is now showcasing in the HAG project room.