Peter Martensen & Morten Søndergaard — bla bla bleu


Drawing, painting, poetry, sculpture

Peter Martensen & Morten Søndergaard
bla bla bleu

Past: February 4 → March 27, 2021

“Blue conversations” between the two Danish artists are behind bla bla bleu, the first shared exhibition of painter Peter Martensen and his dear friend poet, performer and artist Morten Søndergaard.
Indigo lies at the heart of it all: its sounds, space, light, time. Peter Martensen alludes to the indigo colour as a state and evokes the distance it brings as a master of memory and oblivion. He points out its luminosity in the obscurity and compares its melancholic tone to a cello’s. Morten Søndergaard puts forth its transformative and enchanting dimension, its link to the depths of existence.
For bla bla bleu, Morten Søndergaard is republishing — in blue — his Pharmacie des Mots (Word Pharmacy), a collision between the ten grammatical categories and medicine leaflets. More than anything, it is a collision between two languages or two systems: grammar and medicine.*
The exhibition is conceived as a big blue pharmacy: blue marble stones with engraved words and pharmacies by Morten Søndergaard punctuate this ensemble, where Peter Martensen’s paintings and drawings blow like paper sheets in the wind.
The two artists consider their work as “fundamental research”. The poet adds: I don’t think poetry leads to new discoveries contrary to science. But we have to write poetry because the world is in constant need of being rephrased.
With bla bla bleu, the painter and poet meet together to offer us (bluish) stuff over the transom! The foundations of meaning will shake under the attacks of words, images and other substances. There’s a high risk of addiction.


An enigmatic dimension is characteristic of the universe of Peter Martensen, who operates as a choreographer in a scenic setting seen frontally. The curtain can come down for a moment before revealing the same scene — or almost — which we will then interpret in a completely different manner. His characters seem to have no psychology or emotion, the artist is profoundly motivated by the being-in-the-world. The semblance of emotional void that emanates from his characters force us to examine even more attentively the gestures and physical connections between the individuals to guess what they can be expressing. The colour white, in all its luminosity, guides the visual stroll across the canvas; we go from white (lab)coats to shirts, from white sheets of paper to white doors and projectors, in a quest for meaning and comprehension. Sometimes we are faced with a space that resembles a museum. Human figures — almost exclusively men — are standing still. The world is at a stop and this vision is perplexing: what are the connections between these people and their radically different actions? What are all these men in white lab coats, all these experts and specialists as the artist calls them, doing? What are they waiting for? Maybe nothing. The absence of connection between beings characterizes the situations represented. The compositions create a feeling of tension and suspense. Is it the sense of disquiet of existence manifesting itself? Its subtle vibration? One thinks of an anthill; ants are constantly in motion, run in one direction then in another, incidents happen, deviations arise, circulations take a new direction — one doesn’t really know why.
Mental realism is the name used by Peter Martensen to describe his world, where a freewheel-dialog materializes between specific inspirations, the author’s interior worlds and diverse emotions that pass through him while working. During this process, he aims to an emotional neutrality to offer spectators a space open for resonance in order to experiment on their own the big laboratory of existential questions and — in the context of bla bla bleu — the possibilities of indigo.


Morten Søndergaard has never ceased exploring collisions between meaning and materiality, which led him to numerous extra-linguistic experiments and links between the body and language.*
La Pharmacie des Mots (The Word Pharmacy) questions the connections between the language, body, poetry and medicine. It applies to the ten word categories (verbs, adjectives, prepositions, substantives…) the logic of a dosage and the modalities of administrating medication — including warnings, recommendations and mention of secondary effects.
When we write, small elements react with each other just like a chemical reaction or synthesis. Each word is chosen in order to provoke a reaction in the reader; in the same way molecules are carefully selected by medicine to create the desired effect on the patient.
** Don’t the words written on medicine leaflets address life and death matters?
A series of performances — Consultations — based on La Pharmacie des Mots (The Word Pharmacy) will allow to appreciate its therapeutic potential.
Materiality also has an incidence on the effect and perception of words. In a series of sculptures, Morten Søndergaard had words engraved in sky-blue marble slates: Rien suffit, Ne te connais pas toi-même (Nothing is enough, Do not know thyself …) Through these pieces that resemble tomb stones or commemoration plaques, the artist questions the temporality and the identity of the person talking. Who is speaking when these words, put together by a poet, are inscribed on a plaque by a stone carver? And how do we perceive what is set in stone? Does the medium endow the words with another time dimension? In Le graveur de pierre de Pietrasanta, (The stone carver from Pietrasanta), Morten Søndergaard writes: His engines howl and sink in the rock. A path is dug between the living and the dead. This poem, as well as other from the book L’Attrape-soleil (The Sun-Catcher) that has just been released in France, will be part of a reading during the show. Among other topics are kisses, the restless being that tries, falls, gets back up, falls again, tries again, the pleasure of power and lovers who make love, although reaching the other seems impossible.
The world is smooth, brutal, delicious and Morten Søndergaard embraces it with delectation and despair, melancholy and tenderness, sarcasm and humor.

excerpt from Les Pharmakonfessions by Morten Søndergaard
* Morten Søndergaard — English introduction made by Ida Bencke
***excerpt from Les Pharmakonfessions by Morten Søndergaard

  • Opening Thursday, February 4, 2021 12 PM → 8 PM
03 Le Marais Zoom in 03 Le Marais Zoom out

48, rue de Turenne

75003 Paris

T. 01 42 76 00 33 — F. 01 42 76 00 10

Chemin Vert

Opening hours

Tuesday – Saturday, noon – 7 PM
Other times by appointment Spring 2020 : By appointment only

The artists

  • Peter Martensen
  • Morten Søndergaard