December 20, 2007

Per Kirkeby at Michael Werner

"Per Kirkeby: New Paintings," Michael Werner, New York, NY. Through Jan. 19.

Per Kirkeby is interested in relationships: between nature and architecture, matter and light, abstraction and metaphysics. In this exhibition of 10, 3 x 4 foot, paintings, all made in the last two years, he continues the exploration. In the NYSun, Stephen Maine reports. "Preventing these paintings from becoming a parlor game is their earnest sense of investigation. Repeatedly, the viewer's attention is returned to the pictorial mechanics of the representation of form and of space. The nature of the image is inconclusive, even evasive, since the mark of Mr. Kirkeby's brush can suggest crinkly bark, or a rippling river, or ruts in a dirt road. They don't try too hard to please. They have a take-it-or-leave-it insouciance. Mr Kirkeby prefers not to sew things up, but lets rough marks stand alongside each other unfinished and unresolved. He compensates the viewer for this hurried, harried facture with a newly expanded, darkly radiant palette. Though the paintings are presented as a series, the show avoids the tedium of 'seriality' for its own sake, engaging a wide expressive range that brings to mind the efforts of other painters to come to grips with a particular motif. In the early 1890s, Monet painted numerous views of a stand of poplar trees along the bank of the river Epte and there found a rigid but satisfyingly contrapuntal compositional structure with which he experimented, in his epochal manner, with the optically dematerializing effects of variously filtered light. Mr. Kirkeby is not Monet, nor even a Monet for our time. He doesn't use much white, and dirt, not light, is his thing. So he digs, with an admirably workmanlike focus and self-criticality." Read more.

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