The artist Michael Kvium (b. 1955) made his breakthrough on the art scene in the 1980’s as part of the performance group Værst together with Erik A. Frandsen and Christian Lemmerz. Since then his signature media has been painting, even though he has worked with sculpture, theater, performance, audiovisual and painting.
Kvium will open BGE Contemporary Art’s new gallery space in Stavanger with the exhibition “The Shade of White”. This exhibition is a parallell to his ongoing show “CIRCUS EUROPA” currently on view at Arken, Copenhagen, Denmark. Kvium has done a number of gallery and museum exhibition’s. His exhibition entitled “Jaywalking Eyes” at ARoS in 2006 was one of the most visited exhibitions in the history of the museum.
Kvium’s easily recognizable character gallery, which has occupied his attention since the beginning of the 1990’s, is one that he does not yet see himself as being finished with. Throughout his career, he has addressed the existential themes of being human through his characteristic figurative imagery. His androgynous and deformed figures represent a view of humanity that concerns us all irrespective of sex, age and social capacity.
With expressions both tragicomic and grotesque, the series of paintings stands there as uncompromising portraits of foolish mankind and our existential conditions of life. His art shows uncompromising portrayals of the aspects of life that we rather hide than expose to observation. Wrapped in stereotypes, the people portrayed confronts the spectator with a paradoxical feeling of horror and fascination of the hideous and of nothingness. The result is a fear of emptiness and the lack of meaning or being create the foundation of a sublime redemption in the experience of his work.
His way of working is like the mannerist style, with stretched bodies and limbs, which emphasizes human emotion. In this manner Kvium can illustrate typical stereotypes of the modern human being, where it is their visual attributes that give them personalities. The stereotypes are often recognizable: tourists, nuns, clowns, ballet dancers and artists.
This is also at show in “The Shade of White”, as in “CIRCUS EUROPA”, where Kvium sheds light on our current situation and the ongoing changes in Europe. With this exhibition Kvium states that “Everything casts a shadow, even the purest white. We tend to forget that.” The exhibition focuses on issues of tourism, entertainment, news, refugee crises, war and climate, creating a discussion in the media as well.
Michael Kvium is represented in collections such as Espoo Museum of Modern Art, Finland, Red Brick Contemporary Art Museum, Bejing, China, ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Aarhus, Denmark, Cabinet Des Estampes, Geneve, Switzerland, Gothenburg Art Gallery, Gothenburg, Sweden and Haugar Vestfold, Tønsberg, Norway.