Peter Martensen — Feelings
Past: May 4 → June 15, 2013
“Feelings, nothing more than feelings”
Morris Albert, 1974
The almost mellifluous chorus of Feelings, this classic of sentimental songs seems very unfitted to describe the austere world of Peter Martensen. And yet, it’s the title the artist has chosen for his seventh exhibition at the Galerie Maria Lund. Literal intention or irony? Probably both, because the world of the artist is never univocal. Dark and cold at first sight, the work of Peter Martensen is marked with sentiments, emotions, sensations — all the subtleties of the word feelings — that shift scenes of immediate gravity towards the absurd, the moving, the humorous and the critical.
Feelings — society and intimacy
In a troubled social context where the ground foundations of Western society and its motto of always more are challenged by a mutation beyond mere economic destabilization, Peter Martensen emphasizes the only constant element of human history: our feelings, our emotional capacities, a reality both subjective and concrete for each of us. A way of showing in a time of uncertainty and of questioning that this is what is a given, this is what we have… Pathos is not hard to find when in The Three the artist depicts a man, with a faraway look in his eyes, holding the arm of a reclining woman, who could be dead. His expression makes us believe that this contact is holding him up, is keeping him there. On the wall, a painting shows us a man immersed in water so that only his head, his shoulders and his joined hands (joined in prayer?) appear. Is he sinking or communing with nature? For years, the theme of men in water has been a recurring motive in Peter Martensen’s work. By introducing one of his own paintings in this extremely sentimental scene, he introduces himself in this moment of intimacy. An emotional shift occurs for the viewer: at the gravest of times, art and the artist prevail by opening a window in the wall of the room and reminding us that even in times of pain, somewhere else the show must go on… Relations between men and women are of a lighter, almost comic nature in The Task: a man wearing a white shirt is purposefully flying towards a woman asleep on a couch. The painting of a boat advancing towards her overlooks the scene. Is this a contemporary Visitation? A mere example of earthly desire between two beings? Or the idea of finding comfort in the other? Without a doubt something is about to be accomplished. The monumental painting The Relocation shows us a landscape where men move about in the water and on the banks. There are experts in white coats that inhabit the works of Peter Martensen for some time now- those who according to the artist have important knowledge in a tiny field. All, bustling about their task, seem to be ignoring the white sheets of paper tossed left and right, as well as the experts flying over their heads as if moved by invisible forces. Metaphysical and terrestrial, reality and dreams intersect here in a mysterious and absurd scenario, executed with the deepest concentration by the protagonists, in a blend of action and total passivity. These men and these few women inhabit a strange world, and still so similar to ours. Meaning escapes the viewer, and all interpretations remain open.
Subject and plastic message
Le déjeuner sur l’herbe by Manet with his description of the society of pleasure of the end of the 19th century has without a doubt inspired the painting The Gallery : men in costumes and women in white dresses scattered on the floor of an exhibition room have adopted the postures of bathers on the beach. No contact between the figures: each, deeply lost in thought, is ignoring the monochrome paintings on the walls, the white sheets of paper on the floor and the other people. Report, critical message or plastic pretext to spread the white light and black anchoring points in a grey space? The answer would probably be the three together, since Peter Martensen is as much a creator of images with a heightened conscious, as a full-fledged artist who let’s himself be guided by the pleasure of manipulating the matter, shapes and light with the freedom of a limitless curiosity.
In 2010, Peter Martensen was one of the eight Nordic artists featured in the exhibition Nuances de noir, founder of the Passionism — a movement identified by the young Danish art historian Merete Sanderhoff — and welcomed by the Ordrupgaard and Vejle museums in Denmark. Before that, in 2006, a retrospective exhibition of Peter Martensen’s work — paintings, drawings and videos — organized by the Sophienholm institution and the Vejle Kunstmuseum (Denmark), had been extremely well received. This event was marked by the publication of SOLO, a retrospective book written by Lisbeth Bonde. Appreciated by a growing audience, Peter Martensen’s work is featured in a number of collections: V&A (London), Statens Museum for Kunst (Copenhagen), Kunsthalle Rostock, Centre Culturel de Hainaut, FRAC Haute-Normandie. The artist is also more and more solicited for public and private commissions (portraits, sculptures and monumental paintings). In France, his work has been the subject of articles in Art Press and Le Figaro, it has been used for book covers at Gallimard and as illustrations in Le Monde Diplomatique.
The Galerie Maria Lund has presented six solo exhibitions of Peter Martensen.
Opening Saturday, May 4, 2013 5 PM → 8 PM
48, rue de Turenne
T. 01 42 76 00 33 — F. 01 42 76 00 10
Tuesday – Saturday, noon – 7 PM
Other times by appointment