This weekend I found Laura Cumming’s review in the Guardian of the new Per Kirkeby show at the Tate Modern. (It is also posted on Slow Painting.) Well known in his homeland of Denmark, he’s a painter whose work does not get as much visibility (IMHO) everywhere else as it should. Hopefully the show at the Tate will change that trajectory. He is also a writer of poetry and essays, a filmmaker and a sculptor, so his sensibilities bleed over into a number of different forms.
Here’s an excerpt from Cumming’s review:
Kirkeby’s colour – radiant violet, cobalt, glowing ochre – is like a gift, a compensation for the complexity of his art. For he never offers any easy statements. None of his paintings is sewn up, resolved, and very often you feel more certain of the mood than the subject matter. His early work has been compared to that of contemporaries such as Sigmar Polke and Georg Baselitz, but in its primitive and irreducible pleasures seems more connected to Cy Twombly.
Though there are, of course, those who just find it annoyingly resistant and obscure; which is the occupational hazard of the abstract artist. With abstraction, there has to be some kind of affinity, some vocabulary or tone of voice that the audience may recognise as it recognises the content of figurative art. In which respect, the relative unfamiliarity of Kirkeby’s work is a boon.
For it allows one to see the paintings clearly, uninflected by the judgments of others, to meet them like relative strangers. And this show is the ideal encounter, for it has been very subtly arranged to display the fullness of their character. Rich, earthy, spearing, dynamic, fiercely inquiring, solemn, droll, sceptical and yet abundantly romantic: perhaps a portrait of the artist as much as his art.