Kathrine Ærtebjerg

​Out of Darkness

23.10 – 28.11.2009

Out of Darkness paradoxically leads Kathrine Ærtebjerg not away from but rather closer to the shadow side of the human mind. A buxom and powerful Mother of the Shadowland looks at a indefinable, dark, colour saturated world populated by both slight human figures and alarming shadows. The shadows are not thrown by the figures but are personified as independent figures and often displace the slight characters from the limelight. The shadow has for a long time figured in Ærtebjerg’s universe, but now it almost takes over the stage.

 

Painting functions for Ærtebjerg as a medium for exploration of the conditions of life common to all mankind, with metamorphosis as the pivotal point. Topics such as puberty and motherhood have previously been the basis for investigation of physical as well as mental transformation processes. The physical world however is getting harder to trace in Ærtebjerg’s works.

 

The level of abstraction is increasing and the physical space fades away into the space of colour, a mental space. The emotional field of tension that exists in the contrasting colours is supported by the dynamic play between the linear and the illustrative, on the one hand, and the expressive and the fragmentary, on the other. The ambiguity is central in the works, which is stressed by amongst other things the character of the shadows. In They were out to get her (the hole) the head of the monkey girl is surrounded by a black shadow, which seems oppressive as well as protective at the same time. Simultaneously a light pink almost flesh-coloured shade acts in an abstract way as both body and shield.

           

A slight angelic figure in She brought the light glides kindly against us and brings light and hope to the darkness. The private parts are exposed and the androgynous features thereby disclosed. Thus pointing at Ærtebjerg’s returning examination of gender issues as well as the influence by the American artist Henry Darger.

 

Darger and Ærtebjerg take irrationality, parallel worlds, and contradictions as their joint starting point. This summer their artistic spheres were brought together in the Netherlands where works from Out of Darkness were a part of the exhibitionWonderland at the new visionary exhibition space for contemporary art KadE in Amersfoort, the Netherlands.