Marie Søndergaard Lolk
From 24 August to 13 November, 2016
Marie Søndergaard Lolk (b. 1981) made a series of new works specifically for selected galleries at Thorvaldsens Museum. For the first time in the history of the museum, Bertel Thorvaldsen’s built-in marble reliefs yield space to eight paintings gathered under the title TEMPLATE.
The word ‘template’ embodies meanings like stencil, casting mould or pattern, and by hanging her works in place of Thorvaldsen’s reliefs, Søndergaard Lolk adhered to the pattern or symmetrical principle for the installation of art that has reigned at the museum since it first opened in 1848. The galleries at the museum are not made for hanging paintings. On the contrary, they were imagined and designed solely for the art of Thorvaldsen: one sculpture in the middle of the end wall facing the window, and an equal number of reliefs set into the side walls. A strictly symmetrical design that allows little room for additions of any kind. Søndergaard Lolk met this challenge by installing her paintings in front of the reliefs. Not that the paintings fell into place like Thorvaldsen’s works: most of their frames tilted either slightly inwards, outwards, upwards or downwards.
In terms of colour, Søndergaard Lolk also chose to relate to the framing created by the museum. The three galleries she chosed to enter a dialogue with were all painted in the purple-brown colour caput mortuum (Latin for ‘dead head’), the dominant colour that strikes the keynote of the museum. Caput mortuum may seem dark and somewhat gloomy, but it is also the colour that provides the deepest and most resounding contrast to Thorvaldsen’s white marble sculptures. Søndergaard Lolk chose to use the colour consistently in all of her paintings, alongside white – or almost white. Each painting thus became a distillation of the interplay of light and dark that characterises the museum.
The exhibition title TEMPLATE could also be read in relationship to the process of creating the works. All of them were made using stencils, which were screwed on before the paint was applied with a roller. The stencils have subsequently been removed, leaving behind their own ‘holes’, but also the holes left by the screws that held them in place. These traces of imperfection and incompletion offer insight into the construction and process of making the paintings, something entirely absent from the art of Thorvaldsen. Thorvaldsen takes the gods and heroes of antiquity as his subject. If subjects are at all present in Søndergaard Lolk’s paintings, it is only as traces. It was in their ambiguity that Søndergaard Lolk’s works grapple with the canonised art of Thorvaldsen.
The catalogue for the exhibition included an essay by curator William Gelius, and an interview with Marie Søndergaard Lolk by Magnus Thorø Clausen. Both the exhibition and catalogue were generously supported by the Lizzie and Ejler Ruge Art Foundation, Konsul George Jorck og Hustru Emma Jorck’s Fond and the Danish Arts Foundation.
The exhibition was curated by curator William Gelius.