Per Kirkeby

Galleri Susanne Ottesen

Provocation by way of beauty might be a fitting way to describe Per Kirkeby’s paintings of the ’90s. This recent exhibition consisted of 19 tantalizing canvases, each radiating a dark, almost subterranean energy—with gray and purple areas of clay, mud, and gravel; glowing belts of ore and burning lava; and green and bright-blue streams. Kirkeby, a trained geologist, has transformed science into art, to splendid, almost unnerving effect.

One could detect in Kirkeby’s previous work a desire to explore the places where nature and culture intersect. Each canvas was a semiotic battlefield—fragments of figures clashing with abstract fields of color, and mechanical and artificial elements confronting organic ones. Some of the paintings were sliced into sections, frustrating the viewer’s desire for integration and unity, while other works incorporated fragments lifted from pop culture—including

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