The Centre for Fine Arts presents a retrospective of the work of Per Kirkeby (born in 1938), one of the key painters of the Danish avant-garde. But just what does avant-garde mean: rupture, minimalism, abstraction, borrowings, subversion? One can find all of those in a prolific body of work that began in the 1960s in the wake of the Fluxus movement. But that is only one aspect of a very diverse oeuvre that draws just as much on the figuration of Danish classicism and the experiments of 19th-century French masters such as Eugène Delacroix. Kirkeby cannot be pigeonholed, nor does he want to be: he prefers to relentlessly question the position and the perceptions of the observer. An artistic process that has seen him turn to different media (canvas, blackboards, paper, bronze, etc.) in an assertion of the freedom he finds, as a trained geologist, in the omnipresence of nature. It is in this context that the Kurt Schwitters room in the exhibition is so relevant. Here, Kirkeby is not confronted with the Dadaist, but with an unfamiliar, figurative Schwitters, in love with landscape. "Forbidden paintings" – from the point of view of the modernist mainstream, that is. The Danish artist recognises in this work his own credo: a visceral assertion of his freedom as an artist.
Courtesy of BOZAR, Brussels