New York

Per Kirkeby

Michael Werner | New York

Per Kirkeby’s abstract paintings seem to take American nature—Walden and Skowhegan—as their starting point. But “Walden” also suggests “forest” in German, indicating an irony on the part of these works, which mock allusive semblance even as they pursue elusive expressive semblance. The catalogue preface—a passage from Bruce Chatwin, in which Diana Vreeland confuses “Wales” with “whales”—suggests the eloquently chameleonlike character of the paintings. In general, the works constitute a tour de force of gesturalism—in which nature shows the range of her tempers through a seemingly infinite variety of evanescent textures and shapes, quasikaleidoscopically merging with one another, in eager response to the artist’s dispositions in her presence. It is as though each work is the fragment of an endless self-differentiating process. Strung together, they suggest a more rustic Monet flux.

But this

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