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Per Kirkeby

Per Kirkeby, arguably Denmark’s most famous living artist, announced the end of his career as a painter in 2015. His collaboration with our print shop, which dates back as far as 1979, continues nevertheless, and we are excited to present his latest series of etchings alongside recent monotypes. All works were produced by BORCH Editions, Copenhagen.

Not only is Kirkeby one of the major Danish painters and sculptors of his generation; he is also a key figure in contemporary graphic art. As Danish journalist Peter Michael Hornung put it in a recent article, ‘it is wrong to assume that Kirkeby is a painter who also does graphic art. He is rather a graphic 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 holds a degree in arctic geology—, his work can be seen, in its abstraction, to be an even more accurate vehicle for rendering environmental processes than naturalism.

It was in our Copenhagen workshop that Kirkeby first started experimenting with coloured prints, larger formats and different printing techniques. In the 1980s, Niels Borch Jensen introduced him to the production of monotypes. When creating a monotype, the printer works with a featureless plate that serves as a vehicle to transfer the artist’s painting or drawing onto paper. Paradoxically, although monotypes are unique pieces, Kirkeby uses the same work approach as in his series of etchings, an approach he once referred to as ‘serial thinking’.

Between 2013 and 2014, the artist created a considerable number of monotypes in his paintings’ classic format of 122 x 122 cm. It was with great pleasure that Per Kirkeby and Niels Borch Jensen donated the majority of these monotypes to Museum Jorn in Silkeborg, Denmark. Since 1975, Kirkeby has donated more than 3.000 of his graphic works to the museum. His most recent monotypes are a remarkable addition to the museums impressive collection.

Learn more about Per Kirkeby