ABOUT THE EXHIBITION
Galerie Ron Mandos proudly presents Axis Mundi: an exhibition in which Jacco Olivier (NL, 1972) shows new paintings and videos alongside selected works of the Danish artist Per Kirkeby (1938-2018)
Jacco Olivier | Axis Mundi
Axis Mundi or “axis of the world” represents a center between two worlds. This is often a religious midpoint at which higher and lower worlds connect. In many cultures around the world we can find such religious centers, as a totem pole in Alaska, the mysterious statues of Easter Island, the high altar in the choir of a Catholic church, or the large red rock formation Ayers Rock in Australia. In some of Olivier’s newest works, one may find literal expressions of axis mundi. In others, axis mundi symbolizes a turning point in Olivier’s new paintings, marking a new step in his oeuvre.
In his newest work, Olivier searches for an opening to a new world of painting. He unites abstraction and figuration by bringing together different layers of paint. As in his mesmerizing animations, the artist layers different projections on top of each other by bringing variety to volume and color. Central to Olivier’s work is what ‘painting’ can do and particularly what a painter can do with a minimum amount of resources and effort. With just a few short and smooth brush strokes, Olivier makes impressions of a hummingbird, a doubting diver or the dream of an unknown world.
As spectator of Olivier’s seductive and colorful works, one easily forgets the more substantive and abstract considerations of his work. Anyone who knows how to reject this temptation realizes that Olivier is at his best when he confines himself at the turning point of his painting. By stopping at this critical moment – just before the work begins to show too much narrative or becomes too beautiful or ugly – Olivier knows how to generate a maximum of spontaneity and purity.
Jacco Olivier is a graduate of the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten, Amsterdam. He has exhibited worldwide, notably at ZKM, Karlsruhe; Sammlung Goetz, Munich; Victoria Miro Gallery, London, Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York, Dordrechts Museum, Dordrecht; MCA Denver, Colorado; The 56th Venice Biennial, Venice; Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem; New York City Center/New Museum, New York, and GEM, The Hague. His art is held in many public collections, including Honart Museum, Tehran; The Zabludowicz Collection, London, and the Rubell Family Collection, Miami, amongst others. This summer he was awarded the Jeanne Oosting Prize.
Per Kirkeby | Axis Mundi
Per Kirkeby was one of the most renowned artists of his generation. Kirkeby’s multiple skills, not only as a painter, sculptor, and filmmaker, but also as an author of poetry, essays and travel books have led to a versatile body of strong and unique works. While involved with Fluxus and being part of the Experimental Art School of Copenhagen (Eks-Skolen), Kirkeby studied geology and was greatly influenced by his expeditions to Greenland, which led him to place nature at the center of his artistic endeavors. The dark colors and pristine lights of the Nordic landscape play a central role throughout Kirkeby’s oeuvre.
For the exhibition Axis Mundi, Dutch artist Jacco Olivier selected multiple works by Kirkeby to showcase next to his own. Kirkeby has been a great source of inspiration for Olivier. “Recently the work of Per Kirkeby made me realize that you can paint your way out of a painting,” Olivier says. “His works are gateways, passages to another world. They show something that is beyond the things depicted. The structure in the work, the way it’s built up, reveal the true subject of the painting: a rhythm. This rhythm or frequency resonates and opens up an invisible world.”
As in Olivier’s work, one may find literal expressions of axis mundi in the work of Per Kirkeby. The towers, gateways, and trees in his work are reminiscent of centers of the world at which lower and higher realms connect, allowing for fruitful interactions and new beginnings. By letting these structures emerge from his ferocious brushwork and the spatial depths of his abstract landscapes, Kirkeby fights the entropy in his wild neo-expressionist paintings. The structures and forms of axis mundi are built up as a kind of protection – against the chaos that makes its way, against the directionless space of the image.
Kirkeby represented Denmark in the 1976 Venice Biennale and participated in Documenta VII and IX. He has been granted solo survey exhibitions in important institutions such as the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven; Kunsthalle Bern; Whitechapel Art Gallery, London; Museum Ludwig, Cologne, and The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk. His work can be found in numerous public collections, including Tate Modern, London; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; MoMA, New York, and Centre Pompidou, Paris.
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