Søren Martinsen 2013

Søren Martinsen
De Mina
6 September – 5 October 2013

Søren Martinsen challenges and renews traditional landscape painting and allows the viewer a unique closeness to the subject with a series of family portraits. The exhibition title De Mina is borrowed from a book of prints from 1895 by the Swedish artist Carl Larsson, who was well known for his depictions of the idyllic Swedish countryside and romanticized family portraits.

Søren Martinsen works deliberately with the tradition; most recently in the exhibition Danskeren (The Dane), which was shown at Rønnebæksholm and later at Trapholt in 2013. The tradition is especially evident in the landscape painting and its references to canonized works from among other sources Surrealism and the Danish Golden Age with its panegyrics of the beautiful, the idyllic and the romantic in landscape painting. Søren Martinsen takes the work with landscape painting a step further and gives us a more nuanced, almost psychedelic or transcendental depiction with wild, trippy colours.

Unlike Carl Larsson’s works, Søren Martinsen’s painting has an unsettling, ambivalent character where the shadows become deeper, and he plays with light and darkness. The actual curating of the exhibition in turn reflects this play, and in the second exhibition room guides the viewer through a dark, dense space illuminated only by a weak light bulb. Around on the walls hang portraits of the artist’s own family, children and wife. The installation shows the nuclear family as the life-blood of humanity with a play of interior against exterior and light against darkness in the human mind. Stepping out on the other side of the interior dark space, the viewer is overwhelmed by the work Sweet tasting Sky – which with its intense pink sky and towering birch crowns demonstrates how naturalistic landscape painting can still have a twist of something unpredictable and sweep away the normally idyllic mood to give us a bittersweet reminder of the beauty of the world and life.