Juan Genovés (b. 1930)
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Per Kirkeby (1938-2018)

Gegen Abend I (Towards Evening I)

Per Kirkeby (1938-2018)
Gegen Abend I (Towards Evening I)
signed and dated 'PER KIRKEBY 1984' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
200 x 150cm.
Painted in 1984
Galerie Michael Werner, Cologne.
Private Collection, Germany (acquired from the above).
Thence by descent to the present owner.
A. H. Larsen, Per Kirkeby Paintings 1978-1989, no. M738, Aarhus 2016, p. 309 (illustrated in colour, p. 427).
Braunschweig, Haus Salve Hospes, Kunstverein Braunschweig, Per Kirkeby. Skulpturen, Gemälde, Arbeiten auf Papier, 1984-1985.
London, Tate Modern, Per Kirkeby, 2009-2010, p. 160 (illustrated in colour, p. 102). This exhibition later travelled to Dusseldorf, Museum Kunstpalast, p. 202, no. 30 (illustrated in colour, p. 105).
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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

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Lot Essay

With its rich, tactile surface, Gegen Abend I (Towards Evening I) is a lyrical work dating from a triumphant period in Per Kirkeby’s career. Fluid streaks of impasto create a vivid play of colour, texture and light, demonstrating the sensory abstract language that propelled him into the international stage during the early 1980s. Three years earlier, Kirkeby had been included in the seminal exhibition A New Spirit in Painting at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, alongside artists such as Georg Baselitz, Willem de Kooning and Philip Guston. The following year he participated in Documenta 7 as well as the legendary Zeitgeist exhibition held at the Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin. By 1984, he had taken his place as one of Scandinavia’s most important living artists, celebrated for his poetic responses to the landscape of his native Denmark. Included in Kirkeby’s major retrospective at Tate Modern, London, in 2010, the present work is a magisterial example of his practice, offering a sublime hymn to the hallowed glow of twilight: ‘the light of ambivalence is a heavenly one’, he said (P. Kirkeby, quoted in R. Smith, ‘Per Kirkeby, Painter Inspired by Nature, is Dead at 79’, The New York Times, 20 May 2018).
Though Kirkeby was originally affiliated with Fluxus during the early 1960s, his later paintings looked back further to his time as a geology student. Trips to Greenland, Central America and the Arctic fuelled his visual imagination during these years, ultimately inspiring his decision to become an artist. Kirkeby conceived his paintings as ‘collapse structures’ – a metaphor borrowed from geological theories of landslide and slump. ‘I like to get pictures going with some form of battleground in which certain things have to be defeated in order that something else may emerge’, he explained (P. Kirkeby, Samtaler med Lars Morell, Borgen 1997, p. 142). Channelling the influence of Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Cézanne and Caspar David Friedrich, as well as American Abstract Expressionism, he sought to capture the rhythms and forms of nature, focusing less on depicting specific locations than on conjuring their impact upon his psyche. ‘There is a hidden reality and it is the real reality’, Kirkeby once explained. ‘We only see it in glimpses. A painter can sometimes see it … and if I paint at all, it is only because I have those glimpses’ (P. Kirkeby, quoted in Per Kirkeby, Brussels, exh. cat., Galerie Phillipe Guimot, Brussels, 1991, p. 64).

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