16 December

'The most gorgeous, generous exhibition in the last 100 years.' Artist Tal R looks back at 2020 in art.

Goodiepal in his private collection at the National Gallery of Denmark. Photo: SMK.

Unboxing the Goodiepal Collection, The National Gallery of Denmark, Copenhagen

The best-looking and most generous exhibition in a hundred years. I went there and understood nothing. Goodiepal has the wildest rhymes, better than anyone else. He pedals on, full steam ahead in his striped sweater, into places where conspiracy theorists have long since turned off their headlamps, and luminescent UFOs have landed, crestfallen, on the flat earth.

Ursula Reuter Christiansen, To The Blue Hell, installation view, Bizarro, 2020. Photo: John Skoog.

Ursula Reuter Christiansen, To the Blue Hell, Bizarro, Copenhagen

Reuter Christiansen shows monuments at knee height with little mother-of-pearl-coloured women calling out to each other, to themselves, and to secrets in general. The exhibition takes place in a deep cellar behind a wine bar, and both places can be said to muse on the idea of drinking. The blue nightmare. All art arises in some kind of basement. Reuter Christiansen’s basement is free with its favours; it’s got plenty of bottom. Her work and voice do not distinguish between castle and cellar. She takes an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. One of the first texts written about her in Danish said: “With Ursula, ugliness entered Danish art.” No artist could wish for a greater compliment.

Per Kirkeby, Skulptur til København, 1997, in front of Louisiana, 2020. Photo: Kim Hansen © The Estate of Per Kirkeby, Courtesy Galerie Michael Werner Märkisch Wilmersdorf, Cologne & New York.

Per Kirkeby Bronze, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk

Kirkeby’s sculptures are always about something you’re not supposed to do – strictly speaking, something Kirkeby does not even allow himself to do. How is it possible to yearn for the figure, yet deny yourself its pleasures so strictly? A figure’s not that difficult, really; all you need is a cardboard tube, some pipe cleaners, and an apple with wormholes! But trivialities such as eyes, mouth, fingers, and ears – Kirkeby was far too romantic for that sort of thing. He much preferred the conceits of architecture, or the lump with all its unborn potential.

– Tal R is an artist living in Copenhagen. Professor at the Kunstkakademie Düsseldorf (2005–2014). His exhibition Animals and People is currently at display at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen.

For this year’s contributions to Kunstkritikk’s Advent Calendar, see here.