Asger Jorn, Per Kirkeby and Tal R are great artist-experimenters. Danish by birth or residence, each has looked simultaneously to Denmark and outwards to international movements and tendencies. United by an insistent materiality and characterised by an energised openness, the paintings and works on paper on view reveal a shared interest in the physical properties and expressive potential of their medium along with a deep understanding of its history and traditions. As emphatic as their command of colour and gesture are the methodologies and frameworks devised by each in order to bring into alignment their wide-ranging interests – including but by no means limited to Nordic mythology (Jorn), geology (Kirkeby) and the liminal space of sleep (Tal R). Non- conformist in attitude, all three can be said to be polymaths of their age, working across a spectrum of genre and media such as artists’ books, three-dimensional works and architectural interventions. Yet, as revealed by this concise selection, painting lies at the heart of their practice, the medium proving malleable enough to condense a breadth of knowledge while establishing a dynamic enquiry into figuration and abstraction, spontaneity and control, instinct and intellect.
While Tal R and Kirkeby were acquainted and enjoyed a fruitful exchange of ideas, Kirkeby made a point of not meeting Jorn in person, despite being offered the opportunity of an introduction, mindful perhaps of the adage that one should never meet one’s heroes. This exhibition invites us to consider their work as part of a creative dialogue, one that focuses on three Danish artists but, in the end, transcends personal affiliation, geographical location and linear time.