PER KIRKEBY at CDAN. Centro de Arte y Naturaleza

PER KIRKEBY at CDAN. Centro de Arte y Naturaleza

CDAN. Centro de Arte y Naturaleza

June 24, 2009

Exhibition: painting, sculpture and a specific project executed by Kirkeby for the CDAN space, related to the public sculpture in Plan

June 26th – October 18th 2009

CDAN. Centro de Arte y Naturaleza
Doctor Artero s/n
22004 Huesca (Spain)

Curator: Marga Paz
Organizes: CDAN


Per Kirkeby (Copenhagen, 1938) started studying Geology at the University of Copenhagen, since his youth has garnered a broad scientific knowledge and philosophy. Later he enrolled at the Experimental Art School (Ex School) in Copenhagen, where he centred on painting, graphics, 8mm film and performance. His profound engagement with nature has enabled him to use it as a tool to present his particular form of viewing the world.

As a painter he holds a key place in European art from the mid 1980s onwards, when his painting reached maturity and began to be recognised as one of the most genuine exponents of the new painting that appeared at that time.

His blackboards, which can be considered a genre in their own right within his overall body of work since he began them in 1971, are like a kind of inventory, alphabet or iconographic vocabulary of his visual experience.

Per Kirkeby’s work cannot be classified in any one genre. In fact, it might seem as if the chalk drawings on blackboards in the exhibition hall were made by a different artist to the one who created the sculptural work in Plan, in the Chistau valley. On many occasions, Kirkeby himself demands that exhibitions of his work include a mix of these medium in order to evidence this facet of his production and, here at CDAN we can see 39 blackboards and 33 models.

If one were to take a summary look at Per Kirkeby’s paintings, an initial glance would tell you that you are contemplating abstract works, created with grand gestures of strokes of colour. However, a more attentive look will tell the beholder that they contain a structure, that they are girded, that the colours have been applied in overlayered glazes, that there are subtle chromatic interrelationships and that the sum of all these details gives each picture a powerful sense of coherence.

It appears that Per Kirkeby’s interest in modelling and sculpture can be traced back to his admiration for Auguste Rodin, the non finito that compels the beholder to make the effort to complete in his imagination the forms that have only been insinuated. In any case, in the works Per Kirkeby makes in plaster, to later cast in bronze, as we can see in the “models” on show in this exhibition, one can also appreciate an expressive way of treating the modelling reminiscent of Rodin, giving more emphasis to suggestion than to the actual concretion of volumes. The bronzes are like an attempt to materialize painting, as if the painting had taken on physical reality.

In 1973 Kirkeby decided to make sculptures with a little used material: brick, and made the first in a series of architecturally looking “public art” works in Ikast (Jutland) which, subtended by a strong intentionality, have since been disseminated throughout the whole of Europe. In this regard, what Per Kirkeby has proposed to build in Plan is not simply a physical structure that occupies a place in the pastureland on the banks of the river Cinqueta, but rather a metaphysical aphorism that possesses volume and materiality. That’s why Plan is a work of art, and not because its outer appearance is evocative or because its physical presence responds to the conventions of some aesthetic canon.


Sculpture is normally understood as a solid volume closed in on itself. Sculpture has traditionally been carved by taking away fragments of material, or been modelled by adding material, until a figure emerges or is formed. On the other hand, architecture defines habitable spaces by means of construction, in such a way that both the antagonistic qualities of impenetrability or habitability as well as the techniques used by both arts have always seemed to allow for an easy differentiation, even though many great sculptors have also been architects.

Per Kirkeby’s works not only push back the limits of sculptural techniques towards construction, appropriating brick, the core charismatic material of architectural creations, but they also allow the spectator to enter into their defunctionalised interiors. These works neither celebrate nor commemorate events but instead signpost a place and call attention to the surroundings in which they are located.

This work created specifically for Plan is based on the intersection of two equal squares whose intersection creates another smaller square inside, in such a way that, with this simple play of geometry, three spaces are created which can be entered through a series of openings mimicking the doors of a house. In this regard, and though it lacks any functional potential, we could draw a parallel between the openings in the upper part and the idea of windows, even though it is impossible to look through them. One should not seek for the meaning of the work in architecture, its styles and construction techniques. This sculpture’s relationship with architecture is purely incidental, and its meaning must be sought in the postmodern development of abstract forms that have stepped beyond the limits of the arts and the premises of the avant-gardes in order to reinforce the autonomy of a work of art with respect to other objects in the world. Nonetheless, this work is already inseparable from the place, and through its openings we discover fragments of Peña Mediodía, Peña Lisa, Peña Cuezo, Punta Llerga and the sky in the Pyrenees, further enhancing its singularity.

“Kirkeby’s work is the seventh project in the Art & Nature collection-route already including works by major international artists like Richard Long, Ulrich Rückriem, Siah Armajani, Fernando Casás, David Nash and Alberto Carneiro.”

CDAN. Centro de Arte y Naturaleza
Doctor Artero s/n
22004 Huesca (Spain)

Tel. +34 974 239 893 Fax +34 974 223 762
Information: info [​at​]

Opening hours:
Summer (May 1 to October 1)
Mornings: 11 am to 2 pm; afternoons 5 pm to 9 pm
Sundays and public holidays: 10 am to 9 pm
Closed Mondays
Groups: arranged visits (scheduled to suit each group)

RSVP for PER KIRKEBY at CDAN. Centro de Arte y Naturaleza
CDAN. Centro de Arte y Naturaleza
June 24, 2009

Thank you for your RSVP.

CDAN. Centro de Arte y Naturaleza will be in touch.


e-flux announcements are emailed press releases for art exhibitions from all over the world.

Agenda delivers news from galleries, art spaces, and publications, while Criticism publishes reviews of exhibitions and books.

Architecture announcements cover current architecture and design projects, symposia, exhibitions, and publications from all over the world.

Film announcements are newsletters about screenings, film festivals, and exhibitions of moving image.

Education announces academic employment opportunities, calls for applications, symposia, publications, exhibitions, and educational programs.

Sign up to receive information about events organized by e-flux at e-flux Screening Room, Bar Laika, or elsewhere.

I have read e-flux’s privacy policy and agree that e-flux may send me announcements to the email address entered above and that my data will be processed for this purpose in accordance with e-flux’s privacy policy*

Thank you for your interest in e-flux. Check your inbox to confirm your subscription.