Critics’ Picks

Installation view of Den tynde hud (The thin skin), 2012–18, paper, dimensions variable.

Installation view of Den tynde hud (The thin skin), 2012–18, paper, dimensions variable.


Peter Callesen

Øregaard Museum
Ørehøj Allé 2
February 3–June 10, 2018

The transition from winter to spring is a fitting time for “SKINDØD (Apparent Death),” an exhibition of recent paper artworks by Danish artist Peter Callesen. These exquisite works evoke the cyclical rhythms between new and old, transience and permanence, and fragility and strength in a medium that has become seemingly obsolete as a carrier of information in our digital age.

This show, originally staged at the Faaborg Museum on the Danish island of Funen, sets Callesen’s work in dialogue with that of the early twentieth-century Danish modernists known as the Funen Painters. Funen is also the birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen, another Danish paper artist and storyteller. Like Andersen, Callesen invests his works with playful narratives that conjure dreams, otherworldly scenarios, and nostalgia. Smaller reliefs are purposefully suggestive of the ubiquitous A4 format, creating, as in Wild White Roses, 2016, a delicate interplay of present and absent textures and surfaces through cut, bent, and folded paper.

Large-scale works animate this former country estate’s elegant rooms with frangible installations that float, hover, drift, and fall. In Den tynde hud (The thin skin), 2012–18, intricately cut white shirts hang dreamlike from the ceiling, their very materiality appearing to disintegrate and transform before our eyes. Another installation, Dead Dove, 2016, portrays the graceful bird as it takes flight through framed two-dimensional cut outs; three-dimensional modeling is reserved for death, which claims the dove’s lifeless body on the floor nearby. As the title of the exhibition suggests, death and life are relative, and always intimately tied to each other.