Per Kirkeby is a household name in his native Denmark, and remains one of their best known contemporary artists. His lush, huge paintings, full of colour and movement, draw you into his mystical surroundings and abstract world.
In the mid-1980s, Per Kirkeby rose to prominence alongside artists such as Georg Baselitz and Sigmar Polke, who were pioneering the rise of new painting. However Kirkeby’s work defies categories by mixing high art and popular culture with the natural scenery, keeping strong roots in the artistic and cultural traditions of Denmark. One of his conceptual themes is to examine the Danish tradition of Huts in all manner of sizes, styles and shapes. Kirkeby is inspired by ‘pop’ art, comics and fairytales, playing on the Danish stereotype of the hut in the wilderness by creating a comic-like impression of a hut, complete with kitsch motifs of trees and rising suns.
Kirkeby demonstrates a keen interest in history and art history in his works, with a career including stints as a sculptor, architect, printmaker, draughtsman, filmmaker and writer. The Siege of Constantinople 1995 (which pays homage to the original by Delacroix) is a monumental painting with grand historical reference, huge exuberance and visual intensity. Soft Lapping of Waves,Green 2005, a more recent painting, shows his ability to build up a rich surface with textures, effects and multiple layers. This exhibition also includes the artist’s bronze sculptures, ‘blackboard’ paintings, watercolours, books, and previously unseen ‘pop’-inspired paintings of the 1960s.