We Build Upon Ruins
Find out why this renowned artist destroys his own paintings if they are too beautiful. Watch the acclaimed Danish artist Per Kirkeby on building art upon the ruins of your ideas.
”An ornament is something which repeats itself endlessly. In a way you can say life is like that. It’s an eternal appearance of exactly the same things.” The painter, poet, filmmaker and sculptor Per Kirkeby (b. 1938) is one of the most praised contemporary Danish artists. With a Master's Degree in arctic geology from 1964, Kirkeby’s interest in geology and nature in general has played a crucial role in his artistic expressions. In this interview Kirkeby talks about how the arrogance of age means that you don’t have to fulfill any expectations any more - not your own and not other peoples expectations: “You don't have to give a toss,” he says. Once you let go of your own expectations, it becomes possible to exceed them. You achieve complete artistic freedom.
“My painting isn’t good until it goes under,” Kirkeby explains. The original intention, the smart and clever beginning, is not enough to make a painting. Beauty is not enough. There must be something more, a structure. You must commit yourself and risk everything, sacrifice the good, and go through a process of recognition until something better is created, built upon the ruins of the original idea: “The right structure slowly emerges from the picture.”
Per Kirkeby's work has been shown at art exhibitions worldwide and are represented in many public collections such as Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Tate Gallery, Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMA and Centre Pompidou. Kirkeby has been teaching as a professor at the Art Academy in Karlsruhe (1978–89) and at Frankfurter Städelschule (1989–2000).
Per Kirkeby was interviewed by Poul Erik Tøjner at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark in May 2008.
Camera: Bøje Lomholdt
Edited by: Pernille Bech Christensen and Martin Kogi
Produced by: Marc-Christoph Wagner
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2014
Supported by Nordea-fonden