Per Kirkeby (*1938) is a Danish painter, sculptor and writer. He is also a geologist and natural scientist. As a student, he conducted geological fieldwork in the glacial northern frontier of Greenland where he studied rock formations and sketched the landscape during his free time. This empirical background has made a profound impact on Kirkeby’s artistic work and his pieces are often informed by his understanding of geological processes.
A prolific artist, Kirkeby used a range of different media. He was a member of the Fluxus group and was influenced by Pop art in the 1960s. Later he was influenced by Tachism and Abstract Expressionism. The vigorous brushwork and chromatic beauty of his, mostly untitled, paintings and the sensuous modelling of his rough black bronzes have earned him the title ‘lyric expressionist'. The paintings, which tend towards the abstract, bear veiled iconographic reference, largely to the Danish landscape and the female figure.
Kirkeby began creating sculpted plaster forms cast in bronze during the 1980s, mostly working outdoors during the summer on the remote Danish island of Laeso, which was once home to many major nineteenth century Danish landscape painters. Kirkeby’s bronzes appear to be chunks of hardened black lava, etched with seemingly endless valleys and creases. These rare pieces are highly expressive and possess a poetic, dramatic character.