Critics’ Picks

Tom Anholt, Two Rooms, 2021, oil on canvas, 59 x 51".

Tom Anholt, Two Rooms, 2021, oil on canvas, 59 x 51".


Tom Anholt

Galerie Mikael Andersen
Bredgade 63
August 26–October 2, 2021

In “Artificial Light,” Tom Anholt showcases paintings and works on paper exploring the experience of solitude with sensitivity and radiance. The works on canvas are the unquestionable highlight, offering poignant views of pensive characters isolated in their domiciles. (It is not difficult to see where he gleaned his inspiration.) Photographs do no justice to the exquisite finesse with which Anholt paints: the navy-purple depth of his darkness; the shimmering, almost heartbreaking possibility in his fragmented light.

This is well demonstrated in Two Rooms, 2021, which foregrounds a hunched figure sitting at a table in a room shaded in purple, blue, and forest green. They face a large set of windows, where an opalescent full moon, flecked with teal and purple, hangs over a row of plum-colored houses. Pastel light streams in from a second room, where a faraway figure hovers, facial features obscured, hands in pockets. In this series, brightness often correlates with the presence of others—for instance a phone, gleaming with incoming notifications—and yet is eschewed by the painting’s anonymous protagonists, who prefer their peace in the shadows.

The British artist’s style—with its deceptive simplicity, quiltlike patterns, and two-dimensional scenery—could almost be called “storybook,” if the characters in storybooks grew up into contemplative grown-ups who gaze, existentially, at faraway skies. It is comforting to see Anholt’s subjects experience isolation as not just a bad thing: It is loneliness, and it is also solitude; it is darkness, and it is also light.