Michael Werner Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of new paintings by Per Kirkeby (b. 1938, Copenhagen). The exhibition is accompanied by a full-color catalogue featuring a text by Chris Ofili.
Per Kirkeby's new paintings explore the artist's ongoing interest in the relationships between nature and abstraction, landscape and architecture. In these modestly scaled paintings, all dating from 2007, Per Kirkeby continues to expand on the expressive possibilities of paint; whereas earlier works exploited the physical and associative properties of oil paint, here the artist breaks from convention to employ tempera pigments in intricately layered combinations of artificial and naturalistic hues. The resultant matte surfaces of the paintings suggest elusive planes of depth and flatness, complex spaces alternately airy and dense, and mysterious shadows offset by unexpected flashes of hot color. Vertical structures predominate in these paintings, forming new associations with the landscape motif which has long fascinated the artist. Indeed, ideas about landscape, sedimentation, and layers are key elements in Per Kirkeby's art rooted in the artist's early geological studies at university.
By now widely acknowledged as an accomplished filmmaker, author, architect, and visual artist in a variety of media, Per Kirkeby considers himself first and foremost a painter. Beginning in 1957 Per Kirkeby studied natural history at the University of Copenhagen. His early expeditions to the Arctic and Greenland formed a crucial foundation for his later works as a visual artist. By the time he earned his master's degree in arctic geology in 1964 he was already deeply involved in studies at Copenhagen's Experimental Art School. In 1965 he presented his first solo exhibition and published his first volume of poetry. Also during this time Per Kirkeby participated in happenings and Fluxus events with Nam June Paik, Joseph Beuys and Jörg Immendorff. In 1967 he published his first novel, 2,15. Per Kirkeby's first exhibition with Galerie Michael Werner, Cologne, was in 1974.
Per Kirkeby represented Denmark in the 1976 Venice Biennale and later participated in Documenta VII and Documenta IX. He has been the subject of several important exhibitions throughout Europe and the United States, including a retrospective at Kunsthalle Bern in 1979, and subsequent solo exhibitions at Castello di Rivoli, Turin; Whitechapel Art Gallery, London; Museum Ludwig, Cologne; Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; and most recently at the Arts Club of Chicago, in an exhibition that explored latent architectural motifs in the artist's paintings, drawings and sculptures.
In the spring of 2009 Tate Modern will present a full-career retrospective of Per Kirkeby, with a focus on the artist's paintings and sculptures. Per Kirkeby is represented in several major European museum collections, and in many American museum collections including the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh; Museum of Modern Art, New York; and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Per Kirkeby: New Paintings is on view from 29 November 2007 through 2 February 2008. The gallery is open Monday through Saturday from 10 AM until 6 PM. Please contact the gallery for more information.