Installation view of “13” at V1 Gallery, Copenhagen. Courtesy of V1 Gallery.
This month, the numerical mingles with the conceptual at V1 Gallery in Copenhagen, on the occasion of the gallery’s 13th birthday. The (un)lucky number provided the show’s conceptual framework: one painting each from 13 choice artists. Like a greatest-hits playlist or an end-of-year roundup, the exhibition has a satisfying cadence to it. The works on view are primarily new, but the show only includes names from V1’s past— Jenny Holzer, Eddie Martinez, and Misaki Kawai are among the small crowd. A painted timeline of the gallery’s history, the exhibition, “13,” gratifies fans and firstcomers alike.
In light of the upsurge of contemporary figurative painters, a fresh crop of recent exhibitions have taken the temperature of the tendency in recent years, but “13” looks at the state of painting in broader terms. Comprised of 13 distinct styles, V1’s anniversary display ends up celebrating the medium as much as the gallery. Installed down the hallway-like gallery, the canvases stare at one another, encouraging comparisons as well as new connections. Figurative works are interspersed with abstractions, frenetic strokes sit next to neat lines.
Lined up one after another, Todd James’s, Soeren Behncke’s, and Kawai’s psychedelic patterns collide, drawing attention to the way all three artists use color for a graphic kick. Dizzying in its accuracy, James’s Untitled (2015) highlights Kawai’s more instinctual markings, which in turn evoke the same slapdash, Pop aesthetic as contemporaries like Katherine Bernhardt. Slightly cartoonish, these works play well with HuskMitNavn’s The Mother Group (2015), which anchors the corridor.
Along the other wall, a more subtle palette unfolds. Holzer’s White - 15 - (2008) invites a moment of quiet amongst the din with its deceptively simple monotone. The most minimal of the group, Holzer’s work is balanced by the more muted tones of Thomas Øvlisen’s painterly tondo and Geoff McFetridge’s leggy graphic. McFetridge’s floating limbs are aligned with the tragic character depicted in Richard Colman’s Shame Painting (2015), which looks similarly flattened against the surface.
Representational rather than realistic, these bodies inhabit space in a completely different way from that in the work of Troels Carlsen and Sara-Vide Ericson—where the figures create a sense of depth. In Ericson’s fleshy Rider (2015), light exposes the female profile, while in Carlsen’s The New Hope (Revisited) (2015), it’s the deep well of darkness that brings a monkey and its handler to the forefront. A colossal symphony of voices and perspectives, the exhibition toasts the varied program that has graced the halls of the gallery—in addition to its bright future.
“13” is on view at V1 Gallery, Copenhagen, Nov. 27, 2015–Jan. 9, 2015.