About the work


About the work


     Born again Painter, 2001
Oil and print on canvas
300 x 400 cm
Born again Painter was created with a computer and a brush in a multi-stage process. The work is fashioned with a variety of layers and styles derived both from the private sphere, subcultural phenomena such as graffiti and sampling and the world of art. The actual brushwork does not begin until quite far into the creative process. Rather than beginning with placing the first brushstrokes on a virginal white canvas, Bonde has created a photographic base on the computer for the painted, abstract areas of colour. The violent, spontaneous brushstrokes and sequences of lines stretching across the canvas’ photographic base form a mix of manually and digitally applied colours. Thus Bonde undermines the boundaries between the unique and the reproducible, creating a synthesis between the subjective and the objective idiom in the painting.

Bonde’s point of departure is snapshots of himself and his artist friends. A photograph shows a laptop on the artist Jason Rhoades’ desk. On the left is a photograph of the artist Paul McCarthy taken in connection with Bonde’s and Rhoades’ joint art project Snowball in Los Angeles. Underneath a third artist and friend of Bonde’s is depicted in cap and sunglasses. Thus Bonde involves his own social and artistic network within contemporary art in his painting. Mind you, not worrying one bit whether the viewer will be able to decode this network because the photographs have been partly obscured by the topmost layers of paint, applied in large, expressive brushstrokes. They add sensuousness and beauty to the raw, workaday photographs.

The work challenges the traditional, romantic conception of painting as a medium in which the artist’s presence in the creative process and his inner life as the basis for the creativity is felt directly. The challenge is emphasised in the title, Born Again Painter, written on the work itself. It is an ironic reference to the term "born again Christian" which in several branches of Christianity is concerned with salvation, conversion and spiritual rebirth. 

Bonde utilises photographs of himself painting and of his circle of artist friends. Thus with a thick layer of irony, he portrays himself as an artist who has undergone a personal, spiritual revitalisation. He has become a "born again painter". He also enters his painting into the branch of contemporary art which has developed and renewed painting in the past 25 years

Peter Bondes’ art in general
Bonde’s art leads a dialogue between spontaneity and consciousness, between emotion and intellect. Since 1982, which saw his breakthrough as one of the Danish art movement Young Wild Ones, he has developed a style of painting which may be regarded as both expressive and conceptual. His paintings are often monumental in size and painted with large, vibrant brushstrokes on top of prints of private photographs. However, the works do not express the artist’s profound feelings as in the tradition of Expressionism. Rather they simulate the idea that a painting can express and relate something. An emotional presence and at the same time a strategic distance are present in his art.

Bonde finds inspiration in and outside of the world of art. Music, surfer culture, sampling and graffiti pop up in his works, both in subject matter and techniques. Moreover he hand-picks freely from art’s various styles, subjects and techniques which he recycles and quotes in his works. This applies not least to his early works which belonged to 1980s Postmodernism. A wave of new figurative painting that mimicked the expressive painting with irony and irreverence crashed onto contemporary art. With artists like Claus Carstensen and Berit Jensen, Bonde reintroduced painting on the Danish art scene after a couple of decades of banishment by movements like conceptual art which regarded painting as a conservative and conventional art form.

Bonde’s paintings and sculptures feature both materials that signal worthlessness, cheapness and experiment as well as traditional materials like oil paint and canvas. His 1980s works are comprised of doormats, rockwool, foam, straw, steel wire, gold spray, glass fibre, neon tubes and biodegradable materials like eggs, fat and coffee. The materials pile up on top of each other, and things like photographs or drawings may be mounted on the works, or challenging and obscene words written on them. The execution is quick and ostensibly "sloppy". However, the works’ aggressive and spectacular idiom is ambiguous and ironic: Only on a surface level can their potent energy releases be coupled with the artist’s personality and inner life. On the face of it they fail to meet the viewer’s expectations of a psychological and subjective art experience. Instead they play with painting’s variegated possibilities of expression and allusion.

In the course of the 1990s and up until today Bonde has refined this "aesthetics of transgression" for paintings balancing between beauty and elusiveness. He draws the subject matter for his works from mass and subcultures. Bonde is interested in how social space and society’s constant stream of images influence the individual. Often he creates monochrome pictures in vivid colours, writing words like "shit", "wet pants contest" or "piss" in the wet paint. In other cases he paints abstract areas of colour on top of digital prints of photographic picture collages with a more or less autobiographical content. He combines his pictures with video and sculpture and organises them as open, spatial installations in order to expand painting’s traditional field and engage the audience. Therefore several of his works have a transient and event-like nature.

DK-2635 Ishøj
Tel: (+45) 43 54 02 22
Skovvej 100
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