Hall for Contemporary Art 8 October 2010 — 16 January 2011

Deichtorhallen Hamburg is staging a retrospective showcasing over 400 exhibits that provide a comprehensive insight into the art of the Danish painter, sculptor, filmmaker and performing artist Poul Gernes (*1925, † 1996), who numbers among the most influential of Scandinavian artists. In the 50 years that he was active he had numerous exhibitions; in 1988, his work featured in the Danish pavilion at the Venice Biennial, and he shaped the face of more than 150 buildings in Denmark. He left behind an impressive oeuvre, which is fascinating on account of its extraordinary complexity and his aesthetic is as topical today as it as when he developed it in the 1960s and 1970s.

Curator of the exhibition Dirk Luckow (General Director of Deichtorhallen Hamburg) describes Poul Gernes’ oeuvre as hilarious, anarchic, opulent, joyful, folkloristic, funky, psychedelic – while at the same time also emphasizing the fact that Gernes took his cue in part from Constructivist architectural traditions in art, such as the Bauhaus. Paul Gernes constantly sought to link art to life by means of color and design. Art to his mind had to become an integral part of life. Today, it is quite striking how there are parallels between the works of many younger artists and those of Poul Gernes. Furthermore, wherever one looks in urban space today and in ready-to-use design one encounters highly colorful patterns such as stripes and folkloristic flowers that are astonishingly reminiscent of Gernes’ aesthetic.

For the first time this exhibition provides Gernes’ extensive and intensively colored painterly abstractions in a setting commensurate with their spatial dimensions. Occasionally, the artist pointed out that most of his larger works were only ever exhibited once, namely at the location for which they were intended. In the Deichtorhallen it is possible to present his unusually large-format work series in a spacious museum architecture. In this way, the monumental scale of Gernes’ pieces that oscillates between abstraction and ornamental design becomes appropriately tangible as an objective of his art.

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Accompanying the exhibition, a catalogue in German/English with articles by Dirk Luckow, Noemi Smolik, Belinda Grace Gardner, Troels Andersen, Lars Bang Larsen and Tania Ørum will be published by Snoeck, Cologne. Price 68 Euros