Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen, Denmark
Curated by Simon Friese and Naja Rasmussen
This summer, Kunsthal Charlottenborg presents Alexander Tovborg: The Church, the artist's most comprehensive solo exhibition to date. The exhibition heralds a new direction in the artist’s work: an immersive installation transforms the galleries into a sacred space, using a church as its architectural and conceptual framework. Here, the artist investigates the mystery of the church, the paradoxes of faith, and the power of images. Religious tenets are juxtaposed with liberating counter-narratives about faith, superstition, myths, and rituals in Tovborg’s simultaneously stringent and labyrinthine works. Brightly colored compositions found in his monumental paintings strike a tranquil note, offering scope for contemplation while illuminating universal themes such as sorrow and joy, anxiety and life.
Tovborg is one of the most acclaimed, innovative, and sensational artists in the Danish and international art scenes today. His oeuvre testifies to a consistent artistic project in which he insists on humanity. He consistently calls for our contemplation and critical reflection as he pokes at our greed, hostility, mercy, and self-righteousness—regardless of whether these things are rooted in the coherent outlook on life structured by a specific faith or based on a completely personal ideology. Tovborg says: “Throughout the past fifteen years of my practice, I have addressed humanity’s quest to understand our own selves, fundamentally and existentially, through mythology and religion. I see the church as a powerful custodian and producer of many of the myths shaping the cultural self-understanding that has been and still is the basis of our Western society. Art also exists in the communication of the church’s myths and morals. To my mind, it has helped add sound and color to the images that many people believe in today. The paradox between the divinely created and the man-made is at the heart of my art and my own self-understanding.”
The immersive installation at Kunsthal Charlottenborg consists exclusively of newly produced works. Here, visitors will encounter fresco-inspired murals, stained-glass windows, and monumental paintings with biblical narratives and subversive undertones. The exhibition sets the stage for new thoughts, ideas, and actions. Director of Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Michael Thouber, says about the exhibition: “Faith, doubt, forgiveness, and respect for our neighbor are extremely relevant issues in our current times as we face a series of global crises that threaten the existence of humanity. Right from our initial conversations with Alexander Tovborg about a possible show at Kunsthal Charlottenborg, it was clear that his works and his ideas on spirituality, the search for meaning and recognition of others provide new perspectives for our time, so we look forward to sharing his world with a large audience.”
Alexander Tovborg is a graduate from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen, Denmark, and the Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Karlsruhe, Germany. He has had solo exhibitions at venues such as the Overgaden Institute of Contemporary Art, Copenhagen, Denmark; GL STRAND, Copenhagen, Denmark; Rudolph Tegner Museum & Statue Park, Dronningmølle, Denmark; and State of Concept, Athens, Greece. His works have been widely exhibited in his native Denmark and abroad, for example at the Camden Arts Centre, London, UK; IMMA Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, Ireland; ARKEN Museum for Moderne Kunst, Ishøj, Denmark; and ARoS Aarhus Art Museum, Aarhus, Denmark. He has been commissioned for numerous works of public art, such as for the Court of Appeal of Eastern Denmark, the Copenhagen Airport, as well as Jelling Church, Tejn Church, and Trekroner Church. He is represented in the collections of the Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA; Kunsthalle Bremen, Germany; ARKEN Museum for Moderne Kunst, Ishøj, Denmark; ARoS Aarhus Art Museum, Aarhus, Denmark; and the Museum of Religious Art, Lemvig, Denmark.