ArtReview was in Copenhagen for the talks programme it put together for CHART Copenhagen. Here’s ArtReview’s pick of shows to see if you’re in the Danish capital. Borrow a bicycle. Or just walk. Walking’s nice in Copenhagen. Unless it rains. Which it often does.
Martin Erik Andersen, Nut - The Nightsky and The Astralpool (the Obelisk, the Guillotine), 2015. Courtesy of Galleri Susanne Ottesen
Ex SITU. Samples of Lifeforms, Copenhagen Contemporary, 1 September – 26 November
Whether it’s raining or not, the weather is just one aspect of our heightened awareness of the changing conditions for life on Earth. Art can’t fail to register these concerns and at the nonprofit Copenhagen Contemporary, Ex Situ is all about the interaction of humans, other species and environmental systems. With works by Keith Tyson, Tacita Dean, Roni Horn, Len Maria Thüring and others, the show, according to the curators, is set to turn Copenhagen Contemporary into vivarium of art focused on the organic and inorganic systems to which humans are inevitably connected.
Tal R, Heavy Hair, 2002. Courtesy Louisiana Museum of Modern Art
Academy of Tal R, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, through 10 September
Okay, so you might need a quick train ride rather than a bicycle to get to the superb Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, but it’s worth the excursion to see this major retrospective of Danish painter Tal R, a painter whose wayward, informal approach to painting and sculpture, and his commitment to a genuinely strange,mythical and deeply personal view of life, has made him a quietly influential figure for two decades.
AK Dolven, A Other Teenager (with hood), 2016. Courtesy Galleri Bo Bjerrgaard
Peter Linde Busk | AK Dolven, Galleri Bo Bjerggaard, 30 August – 21 October
Back in town, Copenhagen elder statesman Bo Bjerggaard opens two shows this weekend. Norwegian AK Dolven offers her quizzical exploration of social relationships and human bodies, through carefully orchestrated ensembles of performers. Look out for the video installation A Other Teenager, in which a chain of people lying down is crawled over by another performer, an essay to the trials of mutual dependency.
Peter Linde Busk, My Life Has Been a Series of Catastrophes, Some of Which Actually Happened, 2017. Courtesy Galleri Bo Bjerrgaard
In stark contrast, Danish Peter Linde Busk’s obsessively intricate panel-images, made of wood, plaster, ceramic and miriad other materials, gives shape to warped hominids on harlequin backgrounds. Medieval and crazed, they may be an apocalyptic retort to a contemporary moment out of kilter.
Cornelia Baltes, Cody, 2017. Courtesy Galleri Nicolai Wallner
Cornelia Baltes CAPRI, Galleri Nicolai Wallner, through 14 October
Unlike Busk, Berlin- and London-based Cornelia Baltes keeps appears to keep things simple with paintings that arrange loose motifs of cartoonish line over coolly relaxed fields of colour. Baltes balances personality and anonymity, drawing and decor, playing out the ambiguous lure of iconic, symbolic forms that betray their cheery pretence at innocence. Capri needles our attraction to holiday-by-the-sea indulgence and a vaguely oppressive sense of glamour.
Charlie Roberts, Lilac, 2017. Courtesy David Risley Gallery
Charlie Roberts | Robert McNally, David Risley Gallery, through 21 October
Slightly unnerving weirdness seems to be a thread for ArtReview. American Charlie Roberts’s pastel-toned paintings are all to do with looking – looking through windows, into rooms, at women. There’s an emphasis on prominent breasts and a marked erotic undertow to this Rear Window voyeurism and a comically tortured gender politics that might say something about the genuine impotence of the mythical male painter, or might just be wish-fulfilment, or more probably, something in between.
Altogether darker are Robert McNally’s virtuoso monochrome pencil drawings, drawn during an artist’s retreat in the Danish wilderness, a welcome escape from a bad life-moment. Chilly, often sinister, nightmare-like scenes of a civilization in total disorder, they’re visions of history and culture imploding.
Tobjørn Rødland, Wordless, no.3, 2010-17. Courtesy the artist and Galleri Nils Staerk
Tobjørn Rødland Fence Studies / Wordless, Nils Stærk, through 21 October
Rødland’s approach to photographic realism is one of studied disruption, playing intense detail and naturalistic presence against the strangeness and inscrutability of a scene or subject. The Wordless series present shots of young people’s heads held by aged hands - their passive expressions and the intentions of the otherwise unseen handlers keep us guessing, while Fence Studies depict dysfunctional bits of picket fence arranged as mere compositional devices, keeping nothing out except, perhaps, and too-easy assumptions about photographic meaning.
Astrid Svangren, In original violet..., 2017. Courtesy Galleri Christian Andersen
Astrid Svangren In original violet / Influenced transparent / Feeling emerald / Affected by honey yellow / Worker bee / Under influence of chestnut red / Singing pastel dust, Christian Andersen, through 23 September
Svangren’s ephemeral, materially fragile works could be sculptures, paintings or installation, depending on how you choose to zoom in or out of the elements of her show at Christian Andersen – handwrought textiles, hanging fabrics, scrawled painting and pastel on board, all hung on a single running picture rail, surround a loose gathering of beeswax slabs, honeycomb and a plaster tunnel. The subject? It’s to do with bees, in various ways, but, as the shared title of show and all the works suggests, it might be more about rendering a sense of personal feeling, perception and emotion in objects which paradoxically capture the ephemerality of those sensations, before gently letting them go...
1 September 2017