top of page

meeting Michael riise

I’m sitting here waiting for Michael to show up, he’s not late, I’m early. I have a few minutes to think about who I’m about to meet. I had only met him once before, at his theater show. I was invited to speak to the audience after the show about life as an artist. Michael was hosting the talk. He had a way of putting words together, not just nice and fancy words but he was consistent with nice lines and sentences. His vocabulary was well explored and things came with a well timed delivery.

I wouldn’t call him a classic story-teller, he got the room's attention by his demeanor and presence, his happy laughter and good manners. I could sit and listen to him go on about art and his theatrical life and I knew straight away that he was a person I had to meet again I just didn’t know when.

Fast forward a few months and here I was waiting for him to show up. And just on time a well dressed gentleman in a nice hat and a black stylish backpack showed up at the entrance. Exciting! I knew I was in for a conversation I was dying to hear.

Michaels started when he was eleven years old and had just been accepted to the opera school of ballet in Stockholm. He was taught in the traditional way with strict rules and tough teachers and consequences. He remembers how one of his friends didn’t make the cut one year and Michael couldn’t understand why he got cut. They answered “Why drag him into something he can’t manage”, talk about old school mentality! Even though me and Michael disagree with that type of schooling, we both feel like that’s something that we’re missing in this day of age. Not the tough teaching but the work ethics that was demanded of artists. Sure, you need to work hard today too but the consequences are not as vital and I’d even argue that you don’t have to be “good at art” to work as an artist, you simply just need an “X”-amount of followers. Michael jumps in with a quote “Where the craft ends is where art begins” Meaning that you need a lot of hours behind a canvas or a sculpture for many years, preferably with a teacher, before you can “attempt” to do art - Now, we all know that's not true but there's something to it. I believe you need all those hours of work, early morning to late at night, mentorship, working without quick rewards, going through that struggle of “Am I doing the right thing?” - Not that you need to question yourself but almost! I believe that you need to be put against the ropes and show how much you want it.

Defining myself as an artist took many years. It was tough outing myself with a title like that but my years of practice, painting and drawing through the highs and lows made me consider otherwise. After years of hard work I realized that “heck, I’m an artist”, regardless of circumstances. Not because I like to paint and draw, because I will do this no matter what, always.

As we’re talking about the old school era I noticed my name typed on one of his papers. Michael came prepared and I’m not surprised. It was just one of them small details that shows Michaels commitment and work ethics to his lifestyle. Michael had found his dads old memoire filled with interesting quotes and observations. Michaels dad was an artist and it became clear how his dads artistry affected Michael, and not just when he was alive but also after his passing through his diaries and memoirs.

I was sitting enjoying Michael reading quotes from his dads book. I would love to share some of the brilliant quotes but I’m not sure I’m allowed to and I kinda like leaving them in that meeting between us. The quotes were his own observations and studies, other famous artists and things he had heard from the past. As Michael was reading them out, I started to imagine how one day my son will show my work and writing to his surroundings, and I’m pretty sure he will, goosebumps! I was really dialed into our conversation and as expected I enjoyed every minute of it.

“Have you ever thought about why You became you?”

Ballet school really shaped me, it made me discover my need to express myself. I was never great at it and pretty early I wanted to become an actor but I struggled there too, I think I was a better drawer and dancer hah!. The need to express myself has always been important, that’s a state of being where I thrive, or where my mental state thrives. When ideas are flying I feel great, then I can work and explore and there's no stop in me. It's when I don’t have any ideas I feel terrible.

I mention my previous meetings I had and the thoughts that I’ve been thinking about since I started having these dialogues. I tell him about how some artists feel like inspiration is an effect of the collective/Society and some feel like their inspiration comes from within. I belong to the latter part. Surely I get inspired by my surroundings but I can exclude that through my decision making when I paint or draw.

“Aaw, thank you” Michael says “The inspiring collective is my nightmare. It kills all my creativity and my drive to create.

I just step aside, ouff… what a nightmare”

A good meeting rarely keeps track of time and at this point Michael had me carried away a few times but before we were rounding off he asked me if I had seen the old musical Cabaret, which I hadn’t. Michael starts to describe the scenery, how it plays out at a nightclub, the vibe, the clothes and their movement on stage. Michaels entire body language started to move, his eyes and eyebrows went straight up, his choice of words changed and hit a rhythm to his moves. I felt the impact of Cabaret. I could see how he was playing Cabaret internally to the point where it had to become action. How inspiration leads to action! The very reason I’m doing this exhibition is to deep dive into inspiration and how some people's inspiration leads to actions and here I was seeing it developing in Michael in real time two feet away. He couldn’t describe Cabaret in a simple way, it’s too big and meaningful to him. It was a thing of beauty to see this come alive. Authenticity at its very finest and captured by me! What a moment!

I didn’t mention what I had observed, I wanted him to wait until he read this article.

This was a good talk Michael, I’m really thankful that you agreed to do this. You’re one helluva mind and I can’t wait to meet you the next time. I think we both know that there’s a lot left to be discussed! D

24 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page