Christian Hansen paints from his heritage

Two middle age men wearing blue shirts laugh together in art studio

Christian Hansen with Mark Smith during Northcote Penguins session

Christian Hansen is an emerging artist with Australian and Romani cultural heritage. He works primarily with acrylic, gouache, pencil and pastel on paper and canvas to explore his interests in African and Romani culture. His work is symbolic and powerful, often depicting figures in traditional tribal dress as well as South African early male settlers as a comment on white power and the politics of colonialism. His practice extends to include other subjects close to his heart, such as the wildlife and habitat of savanna animals. He is currently working on an autobiographical book that he has begun illustrating and plans to publish. 

Hansen has worked in the Arts Project studio since 2017. He has exhibited in numerous group exhibitions and his work is held in in private collections throughout Australia. 

This interview was undertaken by Hansen’s peers, the Northcote Penguins, a small professional development collective of APA artists who meet up each week to talk about their practices through larger discussions around art history, contemporary art and the arts industry. In this interview, Hansen speaks with them to investigate one of his new works, revealing links to how 19th century oil paintings and Hansen’s cultural heritage influence his resulting artistic output.


What inspired this image?

I like music and dance, and this image was originally inspired by The Sleeping Gypsy by Henri Rousseau. My work is The Dancing Gypsy.

What materials did you use?

This artwork was painted using acrylic paint using impasto medium and a palette knife. I wanted to paint a picture without using brushes, instead I used a palette knife and encaustic tools wet on wet technique, I swirled the paint like Van Gogh did when painting The Starry Night.

Christian Hansen painting based on his Romani heritage

Christian Hansen, ‘Not titled,’ 2020, acrylic on canvas, 50.5 x 61 cm, CHCV20-0002. 


What were your image references?

I used some physical props such as my violin, as well as my knowledge of dancing when painting the figure of the gypsy. I made a digital image of the subject matter using software, which I then used as an image reference and turned it into an acrylic painting.

Can you elaborate on certain details that you think are important to the artwork?

I have a background in classical ballroom dance and my mother’s grandmother was a Romanian gypsy, so I’m currently researching my family heritage as a resource for my artwork. I have recently become a member of the Australian Romani Gypsy group, and have been learning more about my heritage through the other members. I like to use earth colours to make the painting feel and look more grounded, and I like to use warm colours, such as red, to add focal points to the composition.

Browse Christian Hansen’s available works.

Love from the Studio is a series of interviews and articles bringing you behind the scenes of Arts Project Australia. Christian Hansen was interviewed by Arts Project Australia’s Northcote Penguins.