With a selection of more than twenty paintings and bronze sculptures, this exhibition explores an important period in Kirkeby’s oeuvre, one which has not previously been shown in such depth.
The foundational importance of the natural sciences to Kirkeby’s painting is well established: the artist traveled extensively in the Arctic and Greenland in the early 1960s while working towards his master’s degree in geology. Equally important to his development as a painter are the many experiments with architecture and performance Kirkeby carried out during his student days and into the 1970s. At Copenhagen’s Experimental Art School, several of Kirkeby’s Fluxus-inspired activities seized upon notions of shelter and the interrelationship of interior and exterior spaces, both natural and man-made. The brick became an important pictorial and sculptural device in Kirkeby’s paintings and performances and eventually led the artist to complete his first outdoor brick sculpture in 1973. Kirkeby’s concurrent travels in Central America exposed him to Mayan art and architecture, further intensifying his interest in the possibilities of structural form. The artist’s paintings and sculptures of the 1980s are the distillation of these experiences. Created with a new conceptual focus on recurring motifs, this body of work further develops Kirkeby’s fascination with the intersection of abstraction and the natural world. The expressive possibilities of light and form are expanded through Kirkeby’s personalized vocabulary of natural and architectural imagery.