The Human Cannonball Painting

The Human Cannonball Painting Technique is the first-ever painting created with a human cannonball as the artist’s paintbrush.

The Human Cannonball painting consists of five shots performed on August 27th and 28th, 2021, at HEART—Museum for Contemporary Art, Herning, Denmark.

Groundbreaking painting technique
A professional human cannonball artist is hired and instructed to perform Søren Dahlgaard’s special painting technique, where the human cannonball is dipped in paint, shot out of his cannon and lands on a large canvas. This kind of painting stunt has not been done before, so Søren Dahlgaard is writing a completely new page in art history’s long chapter on painting and painting techniques.  

Action painting – why paint with a brush? 
Action painting has been part of Søren Dahlgaard’s artistic practice for 20 years.  The starting point in these action paintings is to ask absolutely fundamental questions about the painting and the history of the painting. How to paint? Why paint with a brush? And can a brush be anything other than a bundle of hair attached to a wooden stick? Can you find another way to paint? How can the painting be rethought?  

The Japanese art group Gutai from the 1950s, Yves Klein and Piero Manzoni in Europe in the 1960s, and American Paul McCarthy and Swiss Roman Signer in the 1990s are of historical and aesthetic importance to Dahlgaard’s action paintings. Central to these artists is the process/action rather than the finished painting object. The painting process as a work contains a physical and bodily potential and statements that Dahlgaard does not believe have been fully explored.  

Dahlgaard’s action painting project thus asks: Where is the work? Is it the process, the photography, the video recording or the audience’s experience of the live event? Can the work consist of the sum of the media? These questions have occupied Dahlgaard for over 20 years, and his best bet is that all media are part of the work and work separately. This produces a wealth of possibilities for different ways of exhibiting the work/process. Each format/media has its own qualities, aesthetics and possibilities.

Film credits:
Conceptual artist and director: Søren Dahlgaard.
The Human Cannonball: Svyatoslav Gabuda.
Still photography: Mikkel Tjellesen.
Phantom camera operators: Tobias Horvath & Gustav Melling.
Assistant photographers and assisting with putting paint on the human cannonball: Betty and Ella Tjellesen.
Cleaning the cannon of paint after the show: Thanks to friends and family.
Production supported by HEART – Museum for Contemporary Art and The Danish Arts Council.