Paula Modersohn-Becker Museum Bremen | DE
07.02.2016 – 05.06.2016
Per Kirkeby (b.1938) is one of Denmark’s most versatile contemporary artists. The striking impression made by his large-format paintings derives primarily from their expressive effect. With his PhD in geology, he permits natural structures and forms to flow into his work. However, it would be a great mistake to reduce this artist from Copenhagen solely to his paintings. Drawings and bronze models round off the selection of works to be presented at the Museen Böttcherstraße beginning on 7 February 2016.
Almost everyone in Bremen is familiar with the »Verkehrsturm« (Traffic tower; 1988) next to the city centre’s Domsheide square. It was recently involved in a heated debate about the redesign of this transport junction. Very few people know that the tower is an artwork by the Danish artist Per Kirkeby and was installed in the context of the project “Kunst im öffentlichen Raum” (Art in the public space). The »Traffic Tower« is a visible example of Kirkeby’s monumental brick structures, which are always preceded by models that the artist creates in bronze. These works and the finished brick structures are astonishingly dissimilar – at first glance the sculptures seem unsuited to serve as models for the sizeable structures.
Kirkeby has progressed through remarkable stylistic shifts during his career. Until the 1970s his paintings were still defined by the striking expressive means of Pop Art. These works were followed by gesturally expressive compositions that took nature as their primary subject matter. The figurative increasingly transformed into the abstract.
The realm of the colours in Kirkeby’s paintings has also changed over time. The early abstract paintings still seem cool and dark. His intense occupation with the colours and the light of the North then expanded and brightened his palette. Over the decades, however, Per Kirkeby has remained faithful to one principle: his building up of layers of paint. All of his paintings also share their expressive gesture and sensuality. Nonetheless the works are not guided by impulsiveness or emotionality, instead, they are subject to a controlled and reflective working process – everything appears connected.
The selected works by Per Kirkeby harmoniously integrate themselves into the galleries of the Paula Modersohn-Becker Museum in Bremen’s Böttcherstraße. Like his oeuvre, the works of Paula Modersohn-Becker are also defined by an intimate bond to nature. And like Kirkeby, the architect of the Böttcherstraße and sculptor Bernhard Hoetger was also convinced of the value of brick as a material and as a symbol of Nordic architecture.
Per Kirkeby: Læso, 2001, Öl auf Leinwand, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Schenkung Jytte und Dennis Dresing
Link to the exhibition :Per Kirkeby. Werke aus dem Louisiana Museum of Modern Art.