Planned for the occasion of Per Kirkeby’s 80th birthday, the Kunsthalle Krems was dedicating an extensive solo-exhibition to the artist. Unfortunately we have to plan it in memoriam. The exhibition will feature a collection of paintings and sculptures.

“As I said, I understand my paintings to be an accumulation of structures. A sedimentation of wafer-thin layers”: Per Kirkeby's nature-related images are not descriptions of an observed landscape, but rather are organisms that behave in an analogue manner to the rock layers. The painting process, which occurs layer by layer, corresponds to the sedimentation process of earth and stone. The painting refuses illusionism. It is not a romantic echo of rough seas or rolling fields, but is rather structural and stays with itself. Graphic and large painted articulations cover the audience’s field of vision. They hint at rocks and tree trunks. At the same time though, they act as an informal trace on the surface. Spots that are too delicate, shimmering zones with depth effect, are covered. They are gotten rid of in favour of a painting that is opaque matte and brusque in its quality.

Per Kirkeby is considered one of contemporary painting’s great mavericks. Consistently worked on since the late 1960s, his paintings always include landscapes and nature but also focuse on the abstract quality of painting. Using the Masonite pieces Kirkeby created from his earliest days until the present, the exhibition shows the artist’s genesis, which is far removed from serious classical painting. Several unexpected surprises await! Another focal point of the exhibition at the Kunsthalle Krems is comprised of Kirkeby's hitherto lesser-known appropriation of foreign paintings by painting over them.

Primarily during the 1980s, Per Kirkeby creates organic bronze sculptures that are predominantly concerned with human physicality. Heads, arms and legs are mixed amongst each other. Some of the sculptural pieces are colossal, mighty bodies, gates and walls. The procedural moment and the disclosure of its materiality are always at the centre of his sculptures.


curator: Florian Steininger


Per Kirkeby
born 1938 in Copenhagen, Denmark
died 2018 in Copenhagen, Denmark

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