On November 24, Christian Lemmerz returns with a haunting exploration of death as both a personal experience and a cultural phenomenon.
Ever since Christian Lemmerz first allowed himself to be catapulted from the periphery to the absolute centre of the limelight with his exhibition Stage in 1993, the - in more ways than one - formidable German with the grave face has established himself as one of the brightest, most insistent voices on the Danish art scene. From harsh, anarchist explosions through classicist demonstrations of force to a down-right visionary appropriation of new media: Time after time, Lemmerz has illustrated to his audience the artistic brilliance and almost annoying ease with which he seems to tame, subjugate and mobilize at will virtually any material imaginable. As a figure on the Danish art scene, Christian Lemmerz is a natural-born lead that seems to demand the light wherever he goes - even if he might himself prefer to be consumed by darkness.
Everyone has an opinion about Christian Lemmerz, his art has infiltrated the public space and our collective consciousness, and practically every museum in Denmark has at some point been conscribed to the sculptor's dystopian universe. There's something about the Lemmerzian brand of unwavering determination and zeal that - regardless of the topic, be it Dante's Inferno, the Holocaust or suicide terrorism - ensnares his audience to a point, where we inevitably allow ourselves to be seduced. Christian Lemmerz has a rare ability to grab hold of the viewer and force him so see the world from changing angles. And in much the same way, Lemmerz seems to continuously demand of himself that he revisit the big questions in life - existential angst, Christian mythology, Death - to see them from new perspectives; to somehow nullify former discoveries. He is - if this is even possible in a postmodern reality - an iconoclastic classicist.
In his new exhibition, The Night is Large, which will be the artist's second solo with Hans Alf Gallery following Limbo in 2015, Christian Lemmerz once again delves into Death as the ultimate theme. In a series of 13 large death bed portraits that also act as landscape paintings, Christian Lemmerz explores personal loss and the memory of the dead, while a series of marble, bronze and plaster sculptures serves as a metaphysical counterpoint in an intimate, condensed and first of all personal composition.
The Night is Large opens Friday November 24 at 5 pm, and will be on display until Saturday January 13.
About the artist:
Christian Lemmerz (born 1959) is a German-Danish visual artist, who attended the Accademia di Belle Arti in Carrara, Italy from 1978-82 and the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts from 1983-88. Despite the classic sculptor training in Carrara, Lemmerz drew his main inspiration from the post-war process oriented Pop Art; not least from his fellow countryman, Joseph Beuys.
Lemmerz has been particularly interested in sculptural art and installation. Through the use of organic materials such as margarine and dead animal carcasses for his works, Lemmerz has kept the viewer in a limbo of intrigue and disgust throughout his career.
With classical form-seeking as well as radically deformed sculptures and installations, Lemmerz circles topics such as the body's impermanence and the longing for the metaphysical. His breakthrough came with the controversial installation, Scene from 1993-94, exhibited at Esbjerg Art Museum, where he left dead pigs carcasses to rot in sealed glass aquariums throughout the exhibition period.
In the early 1980s Lemmerz was part of the artistic collective ‘Værkstedet Værst’ and the performance group ‘Værst’. Here he conducted numerous performances from 1985 to 1994; many of these alongside life-long friend Michael Kvium.
Lemmerz has worked with scenography for Steven Berkoff's Kvetch (Edison 1994) and Rainer Werner Fassbinder's The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (Kaleidoscope, 1996). He is also the author and director of A.L.P. Traum, an interpretation of the end of James Joyce's Finnegan's Wake (Edison 1997). This novel also inspired Lemmerz 'and Kvium's The Wake (2000), an eight-hour silent movie in several versions.
Within the last decades, Christian Lemmerz has resumed his work with marble and thus enters into a sculptural tradition that dates back to the Renaissance and Neoclassicism; examples of this is Todesfigur (2012, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek) and the altar in Lyngby Church (2013). For his artistic achievements, he was honored with Thorvaldsen's Medal in 2009. In 2015 Lemmerz received the New Carlsberg Foundation's Artist Grant.
Today, Lemmerz is represented in practically every major Danish collection, The Saatchi Collection in London and at countless Danish museums, including the National Museum of Art, the Horsens Art Museum and ARoS.