AntwerpPer Kirkeby: Brick Sculptures
Axel Vervoordt Gallery presents a major exhibition of brick sculptures by acclaimed Danish artist, Per Kirkeby.
Why Bricks? I do not know. But I cannot do it with other materials. I have tried. I lie on the couch for a moment and am back in my childhood. Bricks everywhere. The Grundtvig church and its surroundings. The council housing from the thirties and forties—which for me, still represent the peak of Danish architectural achievement. Train journeys in the summer holidays with a ticket hanging around one’s neck. The brick station buildings. The railway towns… It is the mood, the brick’s load of memories and stories… other gains were color, light, the concentration of the fantastic, organic material… aesthetic aspects of a far too pleasurable character.
Following two historic exhibitions of brick sculptures at Beaux Arts, Paris (2017) and at Museum Jorn, Silkeborg (2018), this is the first exhibition of the brick sculptures in Europe since the artist’s death last year. The exhibition is organised in collaboration with the Estate of Per Kirkeby, Galleri Susanne Ottesen in Copenhagen, as well as the artist’s longtime collaborator for the brick works, Arne Fremmich, and jsvc Projects/London.
At Axel Vervoordt Gallery’s Kanaal location in Wijnegem, Belgium, the Patio Gallery space is filled with four sculptures (Læsø, IX, X, XII, XV), which have not been shown publicly since Kirkeby first created them in the years between 1982-1989. These works were created in Læsø, Denmark on the site of the artist’s property and testing ground for the brick sculptures. These four works are accompanied by London (1986), a major work first built for the roof terrace of London’s Hayward Gallery.
Kanaal’s Escher Gallery features one of Kirkeby’s monumental unrealised projects created for the city of Nordhorn as an elemental structure of eight adjoined cylinders clustered around a central accessible core. Nordhorn (1991) is a vast sculpture that measures almost eight and a half metres in length and width and with a height of three metres. It stands boldly in the Escher building as a counterpoint to the vivid architectural space created by the original industrial designer as a once-functional series of square and round spaces with cut-outs in the multi-level concrete structure.
Viewers are able to walk into the work, passing through seven chambers and entering the central space. Inside Escher, they’re also able to climb the concrete staircase for a particular look into the symmetrical, contiguous silo forms that articulate the sculpture’s essential structure. The experience of the work is physical—walking into each of the chambers, walking into the core, sensing the play of light and shadow, enclosure and mystery—leading to a new field of attention.
(Excerpt from the text written by Jill Silverman van Coenegrachts at the occasion of this exhibition. )Courtesy of the artist and Axel Vervoordt Gallery