Fallen Fruit From Frisland
Solo exhibition at Victoria Miro Gallery, London 19 January – 2 March 2013
Fallen Fruit From Frisland
By Martin CoomerThough it began life in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s 1945 musical ‘Carousel’, You’ll Never Walk Alone has long been associated with football. A terrace anthem adopted by followers of clubs across Europe but rooted in the culture of Liverpool FC it stands, above all, for solidarity – in the face of trials on the pitch and, as highlighted by the 1989 Hillsborough stadium disaster and its repercussions, tragedy on a far-reaching scale.
John Kørner admires the song greatly and it’s not hard to see why its heartfelt sentiment and simple, rousing beauty strikes a chord with the artist. Over the past few years, Kørner has created a series of works that reach beyond the personal, beyond the confines of the art world, to address contentious subjects in the public arena.
Allied with a deeply principled, though never crusading, sensibility, Kørner’s art is one that engages with the problems of the world and of representation, whether in War Problems, the 2008 series in which Kørner addressed head-on the human cost of Denmark’s involvement in the ‘War on Terror’ in Afghanistan, or in a more recent series drawing attention to the plight of prostitutes in Denmark.
If this new series of paintings is dedicated to anyone, it is, as the artist puts it, to ‘people who have a problem performing in their life’. The statement, of course, could refer to any of us at some time or another, and that seems to be its point. You’ll never walk alone… can painting, like a song, offer hope?
The figures in the Kørner’s new paintings aren’t alone, not really. A Technicolor beach scene is shared by a sunbather and a cyclist – so far, so Danish. And yet, engaged in separate activities, self-contained, the figures aren’t really of the same world. Further attempts to interpret the painting in terms of pictorial logic are frustrated. The image starts to wobble, like a novice cyclist, before veering away from definable reality.
Motifs – and it’s worth remembering that, for Kørner, motifs are problems in themselves, part of both the real and metaphysical worlds – start to melt. The cyclist’s head could be captured mid-explosion. The aqueous quality of the paint makes the image seem as intangible as a reflection in water.
There are a lot of references to water in the exhibition Fallen Fruit from Frisland. A series of aqueous paintings is presented as part of an installation that features a carpeted floor, rising wave-like against one wall, and a simple wooden boat made by the artist’s great-grandfather.Victoria Miro Gallery