Apples Drop like Bombs in John Kørner’s Dreamlike Paintings

This spring, as blossoms bloom across London, Victoria Miro presents new paintings by Danish artist John Kørner. His solo show, “Apple Bombs,” cuts into some of the complex issues dominating modern life, since, as the the artist has said, “if art fails to connect with something socially relevant, it has closed too tightly around itself.”

Kørner’s imaginative compositions merge abstraction and representation, showing his dual interests in technique and the reality in which he lives. His earlier series took on the complexities of the sex-worker industry and the participation of the Danish government in the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan. This current crop of paintings focuses on geopolitics, wealth disparity, and the migration and displacement of society’s most vulnerable populations. But no matter which global issues he addresses, Kørner’s work is underlined by meditations on human relationships, survival, and notions of well-being.

The show’s title refers to a seemingly simple motif: apples, a fruit with connotations of sin, knowledge, consumption, sustenance, and, in the age of iPhones, technological advancement and ubiquity. Seen whole and sliced, the apples fall from the sky, sometimes dropped like bombs from the bellies of planes flying high above.

In Running Along Apples (2016), two young men scurry up a white path as a cluster of apples unite in a scrim that seems to float in space. The apples catch light at different angles, making their grid look like phases of the moon. Whether these apples are sources of food or danger is left unsaid. “[A]rt can take abstract action and focus on aspects that can’t be accentuated in a media reality,” Kørner has said about the multifaceted topics and difficult answers bound up in his otherworldly, dreamlike compositions. “You can dig a little deeper, and this freedom I would like to preserve as an artist.”


—Karen Kedmey


John Kørner: Apple Bombs” is on view at Victoria Miro, London, Apr. 8–May 14, 2016.

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