4 December

Stense Andrea Lind-Valdan looks back on a rich year in art which included psychedelic shadow puppetry and an artist’s farewell show.

Christian Finne, Figur med fløjte (Figure with flute), 2023. Acrylics on cardboard.

Christian Finne, Rigtig sol forkert (Right sun wrong), Marie Kirkegaard Gallery, Copenhagen

This sunnily titled exhibition saw Christian Finne explore a painterly landscape made up of deserts of abstraction, a mountain range of geometry, a psychedelic sky, and swampy borderlands. These abstract plane-oriented paintings in matte acrylic and pencil on wooden boards seemingly left over from other projects display no immediate desire for depth. However, upon closer inspection, a trembling chasm opens up beneath their hard outer shell. Out of the strict geometry, figures emerge: soul-stricken, sorrowful, nerve-wracked people with awkward, contorted limbs full of tenderness and love. Finne demonstrated abstract painting’s potential to visualise emotions that cannot be captured in words, but which slide in and out of our consciousness like puppets in a psychedelic shadow play.

Installation view, Toshie Takeuchi, Refuturing the Soil, Eks-rummet, 2023.

Toshie Takeuchi, Refuturing the Soil, Eks-rummet, Copenhagen

A pamphlet, a sketch for a video work, eight kites with hand-drawn images on them, and two ceramic hands to hold the strings: these were the elements that made up Toshie Takeuchi’s exhibition. Refuturing the Soil was an unusually honest examination of the artist’s own family history, particularly her estranged relationship with her father. Taking her grandfather’s death in the Pacific War as a point of departure, Takeuchi unfolded Japan’s colonial war policy in a form that was fragmented, yet imbued with wisdom, while analysing the cynical societal values that have inflicted loss, shame, and silence on families. Takeuchi openly expressed doubts about how best to present such a complex history and inherited traumas. But her experiments with form and her trust in the benevolence of the viewer combined to create a simple, confident, and well-functioning exhibition.

Kirsten Christensen, Kvinde med motorsav (Woman with chainsaw), 1986. Painted photography. Photo: Ole Mortensen.

Kirsten Christensen, Drømmen rider forbi – det haster (The dream is passing by – it’s urgent), Holstebro Art Museum, Holstebro

We rarely get the opportunity to view an actual farewell exhibition. Nevertheless, 80-year-old Christensen’s show was exactly that. A summing-up of and farewell to her life as an artist in favour of something new. While it may strike us as a pity, the artist’s move was not surprising: while Christensen’s simultaneously sentimental and unsentimental stoneware images often deal with the past, her practice has always looked to the future. The exhibition was a demonstration of – and not least a call for – artistic fervour and freedom, urging us to face inner and outer demons with political awareness and a willingness to change. The rich presentation of Christensen’s own texts, which can be read in the exhibition catalogue, ought to be part of the curriculum for every art student.

– Stense Andrea Lind-Valdan is an artist. She lives and works in Copenhagen and regularly writes for Kunstkritikk. Lind-Valdan is currently working on the exhibition Ve (Wow), which opens in April 2024 at Huset for Kunst og Design in Holstebro.

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