ARKEN presents a lavish exhibition of the celebrated Danish writer and painter HANS SCHERFIG (1905-1979). As a writer, Scherfig skewered the educational system of his day and other prime targets, including bourgeois society, Nazism and capitalism. As a self-taught painter, his subject, in more senses than one, was the jungle.
The exhibition features Scherfig’s popular paintings of tropical jungles, where wild animals live in peaceful coexistence, as well as his less well-known, critical paintings of capitalist urban society, where the law of the jungle reigns supreme.
Scherfig’s jungle paintings, inhabited by elephants, tapirs, okapis and monkeys, are part of every Dane’s visual cultural heritage. Scherfig was a communist and a man of his times. The jungle paintings are images of ideal utopian societies with room for everyone. They express the artist’s longing for a better world.
ARKEN’s exhibition THE WILD EIGHTIES is showing the wild, intense, visual ‘loud’ works that brought back painting with a bang to the Danish art scene at the start of the 1980s. After the political art and minimalism of the sixties and seventies a group of very young artists looked out their paint, brushes and spray cans; their works were big, colourful and quickly executed, and to this day they bear witness to the energy of the milieu in which they were made.
With their anti-authoritarian, devil-may-care behaviour the artists contributed to the spirit of the period in the 1980s, when the punk movement was making its mark. Artis¬tically, the period was typified by exchanges among the various arts – music, poetry readings and performance art were regular features of the exhibition openings.
THE WILD EIGHTIES draws on archive material from the period – reviews, photographs, filmed performances, poetry and music, all forming a sounding-board for the artists’ paintings and helping to give a picture of the 1980s as a moment in history.
Katharina Grosse (b. 1961) works with intensely colourful, large-scale paintings executed directly on the surfaces of architectural spaces. For ARKEN’s UTOPIA project Grosse developed a new type of installation which occupied and transformed the experience of the museum’s characteristic architecture.
Grosse’s installations draw upon a number of heterogeneous references, including renaissance frescoes and murals, abstract painting, psychedelic imagery and graffiti. On several levels, they orchestrate an aesthetic dissolution of boundaries: between architecture and image, painting and its surroundings, the material and the imaginary, fact and imagination. Grosses works aim at opening up gaps in our habitual experience and perceptions.
As one of ten international museums of art, ARKEN has been invited to participate in an innovative exhibition project. The project spotlights contemporary art and the museums’ acquisition policy.
On the occasion of its ten years anniversary Essl Museum in Vienna has entrusted each museum an amount of money to purchase art for, with the singular condition that the art be young. The choices of the ten directors will be shown in a travelling exhibition whereupon the works will take their places in the museums that selected them.
For DIRECTOR'S CHOICE ARKEN’s director Christian Gether has purchased the painting Untitled (2008) by the German artist Anselm Reyle (b. 1970), the film trilogy A Voyage in Dwelling (2008) by Dane Jesper Just (b. 1974) and the embroidered textile work Tic Tac II by the Algerian-Norwegian artist Hans Hamid Rasmussen (b. 1963).
I work like a gardener, the world-famous Spanish artist Joan Miró (1893-1983) has stated. Miró felt that his works of art grew forth of their own accord as long as he was sensitive to the material’s inherent power. He wished to create immediate, intuitive art liberated of intellectual and historical baggage.
ARKEN’s exhibition focuses on the last twenty years of Miró’s life when increasingly he was experimenting with the medium of sculpture. We are introduced to the artist's wondrous universe through painting, sculpture and drawing.
All works are on loan from Fondation Maeght in Saint-Paul-de-Vence in southern France which owns a unique Miró collection.
Oluf Høst (b. 1884) was a painter who painted his immediate surroundings from his native island of Bornholm with great fervour; the smallholding Bognemark, the Bornholm herring smokehouses, the round churches and the starry sky. He usually returned to the same subjects to show the various moods associated with each of them.
Høst was closely attached to his native Bornholm. Like his contemporaries Karl Isakson, Edvard Weie, Olaf Rude and Niels Lergaard, he was a Bornholm Painer, but in fact he was more than that: Most of all Høst was a Nordic Romantic.
He was interested in mysticism and the spiritual dimensions of the physical world. To him it was essential to communicate the big in the small, the spirit of the place, as he called it. It was not so much the concrete subjects that interested him as what one perceives and experiences before them. Through painting he attempted to go beyond things’ physical form in order to understand their innermost being. In his own words Høst wished to reproduce “the silent godhead in nature”, to give his pictures “soul colour”. With this exhibition ARKEN explores this metaphysical aspect.