Per Kirkeby


Prologue by David Neuman, Director Magasin 3 Stockholm Konsthall
Blue, blue oblivion, essay by Aris Fioretos, Author
Restlandschaft – Thoughts on Per Kirkeby, essay by Thomas Elsen, Director Neue Galerie im Höhmann-Haus, Augsburg, Germany 

Exhibition catalogue no 20
No of pages: 
49, color, illustrated
soft cover

Language: Swedish and English
Year: 1999
Publisher: Magasin 3 Stockholm Konsthall
ISBN: 91-972986-4-6

Available for purchase in our museum entrance for 300 SEK (approx. 30 EUR)


Restlandschaft – Thoughts on Per Kirkeby by Thomas Elsen

(…) While, on the one hand, he is in a position to sound out the possibilities of lyrical language, on the other hand Kirkeby shows equal command of the ‘sober’ factual language. Besides his activity as poet he is at the same time author of a multitude of essays, and art historical articles including on Manet, Delacroix, Turner and Schwitters.

Intuition is a central impulse for Kirkeby in order to carry out his art and – at the same time – a type of counter-idea to that of spontaneity. He emphasises the qualitative difference in relation to the spontaneous works, as a creative process that for him is essentially related to the difference between slowness and speed. On the basis of intuition as the starting point and his point of departure as a painter, the picture ‘grows’ through many stages, corrections, superimpositions, through visible and invisible transitions. It is, albeit also to a large extent dominated by the mood, (“The pictures that emerge in this case are often much more depressive,” Kirkeby in conversation with the author in Frankfurt, summer 1997) never only the expression of a unique moment but rather a ‘time continuum’, though it must be said frequently only a short one.

The occasional categorisation as modern landscape painter has always been rejected by Kirkeby. Nevertheless, it is both the intensive observation of nature (e.g. of fragments of tree, states of weather, light conditions that change with the time of day and year) as well as the geological motifs and motivation (study of surface structures and shifts, erosion processes) that in his pictures represent a definitive artistic continuum. However, Nature is not directly portrayed but rather appears as fluid; the change of a subject state. Kirkeby’s painting constantly deals with this metamorphosis.

A certain methodological analogy to the observation of geological layers in Nature is found in the reciprocal overlapping of painting and drawing in the picture field that plays a dominant role in his work. The drawing is – in this case – an essential dialogue event with reference to the self-confirmation of the picture and therefore integrally contained in this. The sketched motifs of the vignette in this catalogue may also be used by way of comparison, the vocabulary of which – sometimes concealed – in the pictorial series ‘Rest-Landschaft’ now and then stand out very directly. (…)