Per Kirkeby — Gravures
Past: February 6 → March 26, 2016
Born in 1938 in Copenhagen, Per Kirkeby, a painter, sculptor, film-maker, and writer, is a major figure in contemporary Scandinavian art. He lives and works in Copenhagen and Læsø (Denmark), and Arnasco (Italy).
In 1957, Per Kirkeby studied geology at Copenhagen University and in 1958 took part in a scientific expedition to Greenland. This initial journey to the far north, and those that followed, are at the heart of his work.
In 1962, he enrolled at the Eks-Skole (The Experimental Art School) in Copenhagen, where he studied painting, video art, performance, and printmaking techniques.
In 2015, after a retrospective presenting all his prints at the Jorn Museum in Silkeborg, two exhibitions in France have paid homage to his work as a printmaker: ‘Per Kirkeby et la région polaire’ (‘Per Kirkeby and the polar region’), which was held from 9 September to 1 November 2015 at the Maison du Danemark in Paris, and ‘Per Kirkeby, images gravées du grand nord’ (‘Per Kirkeby: engraved images of the far north’), which is being held until 14 February 2016 at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Caen. These exhibitions attest to the importance of his graphic output, using an intensive and very elaborate process involving various techniques, particularly intaglio printmaking. By taking engraving plates—which he has used as ‘notebooks’ to record his observations—on his expeditions to Greenland, Norway, and the Faroe Islands, Per Kirkeby has developed an entirely unique method of printmaking.
The works exhibited in the gallery include a portfolio from 2011 entitled ‘Ost-Grönland, Mappe’ (eastern Greenland)—comprising thirteen dry point engravings in black and white—, which is similar to the very first set of engravings he produced during the 1963 expedition to Peary Land, in northern Greenland, which were the result of geological and artistic observations. In this set produced in eastern Greenland, the distant treatment of the landscape borders on abstraction, creating a suggestion of a mineral world, of which there only remain some structural elements, rocks, cliffs, and horizons, reduced to several lines.
The exhibition also presents a selection of colour prints. The most recent, dating from 2015, are two large plates produced using the intaglio technique and a superposition of techniques—dry point, etching, aquatint, and softground etching—, creating brown and ochre marks that cover the lines of the dry point like splashes.
A set of five colour etchings dating from 2012 and six engravings on Japanese paper (2001) contain motifs that are characteristic of the artist’s graphic language, and on which are superposed blocks of colour, revealing the structure of the images, comprised of flaws, reliefs, and layers.
Several major retrospective exhibitions of Per Kirkeby’s work have been held in recent years: at the Tate Modern in London and the Stiftung Museum Kunstpalast in Düsseldorf (2009); and at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels and the Phillips Collection in Washington (2012); in the same year, his work was also presented in the exhibition ‘La collection Michael Werner’ (‘The Michael Werner collection’) at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris._
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