The Lion                                                                                                                            October 1971

•  Chronologies
•  Exhibitions
•  Transversions
•  Video: excerpts, outtakes
•  Etc.
•  Chronologies
•  Cacophony for 8 Players
•  Letters
•  Video
•  Etc.
•  Chronologies
•  Jazz 61, 62, 63 ...
•  Tamburinen, Tangent
•  DR correspondent
•  Etc.
•  Chronologies
•  Books
•  Lines, Off-lines
•  Essays
•  Etc.
film & video
•  Chronologies
•  The Ball & The Wall
•  Before The Wall
•  Leaping, Looping
•  Etc.
•  Chronologies
•  With Clinch
•  Instead Of
•  With Søren Kjærgaard
•  Etc.
•  Chronologies
•  On court, off records
•  Profiles, interviews
•  Links
•  Etc.
© 2005-2020 Interplay
Serving Up A Masterpiece
A prime attraction at this Lions' art exhibit was a painting
that ... well ... bounced its way to glory

- - - - - - - - - - -

It has often been said that among the most original attractions at an art exhibit are the reactions of the people attending, especially if the exhibit highlights modern art. Such must surely have been the case recently in Copenhagen, Denmark at an exhibition sponsored by the Copenhagen Lions club. While showing a mixture of traditional and modern art, one work in particular produced enough unique reaction to keep a candid camera buff happy for days.

Covering one dark canvas were circular representations that looked vaguely familiar. A tennis racket set onto one side of the picture provided a further clue and a built-in television receiver on the other side erased any doubt. The visitors were gazing (or gaping) at what was probably the world's only "Ball-Wall." Untouched by artist's brush and bouncing away from the confines of Expressionism, Impressionism, Surrealism, or any other "ism," this work defied classification.

The Copenhagen Lions had asked leading people in the community to paint pictures which would be first shown at the town hall and later sold at auction. All money received would go to a rest home for the elderly. Among the prominent residents who responded was Torben Ulrich, winner of 10 tennis championships and a participant in 17 Davis Cup matches. Spurning the usual forms of artistic expression, Torben reasoned there must be a way to create a work of art that was truly "him." Searching for artistic identity, he looked no further than his tennis racket and what followed would have been fuel for another story by Hans Christian Andersen.

Thus inspired, Torben hurried to his tennis club where he proceeded to cover the walls and floor of one room with plastic. Next, he procured a 6 1/2 by 3-foot canvas and fastened it to a wall. His, by now, curious associates at the club were marvelling at the new decor when Ulrich trotted in with a few cans of paint, a phonograph, a stack of rock records, his wife and some friends. He then gathered about him the tools of his trade, to wit: one tennis racket and a number of tennis balls.

Appearances to the contrary, Torben Ulrich was now organized. He, along with his pre-coached wife and friends, began dipping the tennis balls into the paint. To the tune of rock music, Torben grabbed his racket and began playing the balls against the canvas. "The paint," he enthused, "exploded beautifully!" His colorful efforts were captured on video-tape. Upon completion of the masterpiece, Ulrich cut a square in one corner of the canvas and installed a television set which would play back the record of his inventive technique. Visitors to the town hall exhibit could then admire his work and study the creative process at the same time. "Much to my surprise it became a pretty good painting," announced the pleased athlete, and with a glance at his trusty racket which he tenderly placed on the canvas as sort of an artistic exclamation point, he added, "The racket is also quite nice."

At the Lions' exhibit, Torben's "Ball-Wall" joined distinguished company. Contributing their own paintings were actors and ballet people from the Royal Theatre, radio and television personalities, leading businessmen and former mayors of Copenhagen. Internationally-known artist, Bjorn Wiinblad, recognized especially for his ceramics, also donated a work to the Lions' charity project. One canvas, described by Lion Jorgen Bagger, an official at the exhibit, as in the same class as the works of Grandma Moses was painted by Guilford Dudley, United States ambassador to Denmark.

A touch of royalty was even added to the event. One painting, entitled "Sunset Over Hong Kong," was donated by Count Christian of Rosenborg, cousin of Denmark's King Frederick IX. The Count's cousin, Queen Anne, former Queen of Rumania, was in Denmark for a family reunion. She also painted three pictures and presented them to the Lions for exhibition and eventual auction.

With the sale of the paintings, the Lions were able to provide an increased amount of humanitarian service to the home for the elderly. And what became of Torben's prized "BallWall?" It sold for $200 at the auction and now proudly hangs, minus its TV set, in the offices of a Danish firm that sells sports watches. But for Torben Ulrich, tennis champ, on court or on canvas, the fun was in getting there.