Per Kirkeby, the most famous Danish artist of his generation, announced the end of his career as a painter in 2015. His collaboration with BORCH Editions, which dates back as far as 1979, continued nevertheless, and in 2017 he created a series of multi-coloured monoprints in collaboration with master printer Mette Ulstrup.
It was in Niels Borch Jensen’s studio that Kirkeby’s early experiments with small scale etchings developed into an ambitious, live-long engagement with the medium of printmaking which encompassed colouration, format and printing techniques, among them the production of monoprints. Monoprints are unique prints created from a printing plate. When creating his 2017 prints, Kirkeby initially worked on copper plates in a variety of etching techniques. After Mette Ulstrup had inked the plates, he added individual marks in watercolour to complete the composition. The result is a series of dense, multi-layered prints merging Kirkeby’s signature painterly expression with his decades of printmaking experience.
Printmaking was a crucial part of Per Kirkeby’s artistic practice. As Danish journalist Peter Michael Hornung put it, “it is wrong to assume that Kirkeby is a painter who also makes prints. He is rather a printmaking artist who also paints.” When working on plates, Kirkeby translates the explosive surfaces and textures of his paintings into acid, copper sparks and deep scratches. Working with a scientifically educated eye – Kirkeby also held a degree in arctic geology – he developed a unique visual vocabulary between abstraction and figuration that was inspired by natural phenomena without aiming at naturalistic representation.
Per Kirkeby (1938 – 2018), born in Copenhagen, Denmark.
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