Determined actions, apathy and immobility cohabitate in Peter Martensen’s latest works. Parallel scenarios play out simultaneously - an atmosphere both strange and familiar hovers … From there emanates a feeling of mystery, abdication, even chaos where images of timeless tranquility slip in.
Call from inside, the title of his new show raises questions. Is it an allusion to our deeper self? Could it be a reference to primary layers, recalling certain fundamentals of human existence? Or maybe an incentive to wake up?
w h e n t h e w a t e r r i s e s . . . t h e s h o w g o e s o n
The Play shows a dishevelled woman, immobile in front of a stage of which the edge, divided in strata, recalls a surface split by an earthquake. She holds an object with a light beam in her hand. A ball - maybe a crystal ball - is at her feet. At the bottom of the “stage”, the public’s heads are brushed in a rapid manner. The stage curtain, slightly parted, opens on a strong, blinding light… The show must go on, as one says to express the need to carry on despite everything and the idea of a movement that can’t be stopped. Yet, the woman on stage seems absent, elsewhere, ignoring the lighting, the ball and the pit at her feet.
The large painting Stjernenat (Starry night) presents three sitting men in a landscape forming an isthmus. A coffee table and domestic objects (books, papers, glasses, blankets, thermos, trolley) are scattered on the ground. The man seated in the highest chair looks at the water rising at their feet where a backpack is floating. Tiny women whose light dresses recall past times are standing along the coasts. Thus, several scales cohabitate in the composition. In the background, a man is peering at who-knows-what with a flashlight. Water shimmers with the stars’ reflection; in the distance a projector stands out from the dark coast…
Peter Martensen sets in the manner of a scenographer who juxtaposes accessories and human figures, creating “tempo” in a space to discover the achieved effect. A formal approach - that tends towards an emotional neutrality - completed by the desires and motivations of the artist as a manipulator of matter.
Because of the choices that the artist makes, his works become the conveyor of poignant observations, deep anxieties, dreams. In a multiverse world, Peter Martensen brings the most diverse registers and “realities” together, that form our perceptive frame in all its complex scope. He speaks of a “mental reality”.
l i g h t i n g - l i g h t b e a r e r
A recent video, Planet X, shows people in white lab coats with torches, wandering and navigating in a nocturnal landscape. These “specialist” - in Peter Martensen’s vocabulary - examine; they search, like light bearers in the obscurity.
Is it the expression of deep concern as for the lights of a humanity with short-term memory? Or is it just the artistic exploration of the possibilities of the chiaroscuro? Peter Martensen’s artistic research laboratory doesn’t impose anything whatsoever, on the contrary, it examines, juxtaposes and shows its “findings”, results of an infinite quest.
b a c k g r o u n d
Peter Martensen (born in Denmark in1953) has regularly exhibited in institutions and galleries in his native country, as well as in Europe, Asia and the United States. The Galerie Maria Lund has welcomed eight solo shows of the artist: CLONE CLUB PAINTINGS (2000), CIVILISATION (2002), STRANGE DAYS (2004), THE TEST (2007), TESTING FREEDOM (2008), MUSEUM (2011) FEELINGS (2013) and UNDONE SKETCHES (2016).
In 2010, Peter Martensen was one of the eight Nordic artists featured in the exhibition Shades of black, a founding event of Passionism - a Nordic movement identified by the young Danish art historian Merete Sanderhoff – and welcomed by the Ordrupgaard and Vejle museums in Denmark. Before that, in 2006, a retrospective exhibition of Peter Martensen’s work SOLO was organized by the institutions Sophienholm and the Vejle Kunstmuseum (Denmark). In 2014 the Brandts museum (Odense, Denmark) presented From Grid to Romance, a solo show that brought paintings, drawings and videos from the artist’s 1990-2014 period together.
Le Musée d’art moderne et contemporain de Saint Etienne Métropole exhibited his drawings for the first time in 2016 in the exhibition Intriguing Uncertainties. In 2017, his solo show RAVAGE hosted by the museum and the Maison du Danemark in Paris gave the French audience an opportunity to discover Peter Martensen's work in its full extent (painting, drawing, video and sculpture).
A complete catalog of RAVAGE, compiling texts by Lorand Hegyi, Jens Christian Grøndahl, Merete Sanderhoff and a talk with the artist by Martine Mourès-Dancer, was published by Kerber Verlag, Berlin.
Appreciated by a growing audience, Peter Martensen’s work is featured in a number of collections: Statens Museum for Kunst (Copenhagen),V&A (London), Kunsthalle Rostock, Centre Culturel de Hainaut and FRAC de la Haute-Normandie (France). One of his paintings is currently in the process of being purchased by the MAMC+.
The artist is also solicited for public and private commissions (portraits, sculptures and monumental paintings). It is in this context that he painted several official portraits of leading figures in Denmark. In the spring of 2016, the Frederiksborg National History Museum (Denmark) dedicated the exhibition PORTRAITS to his portraits (paintings and drawings) - retracing forty years of work with this specific form of human studies.
This fall, a selection of his drawings will be shown in Intriguing Uncertainties
at The Parkview Museum, Singapore. Next spring, The Parkview Museum, Beijing, will welcome in turn this panorama of contemporary drawing.