Ruth Campau


24. Jan 15. Mar 2015

Operating in the field between space and painting, between two and three dimensions, has for many years been the pivotal point in Ruth Campau’s practice as an artist.

In the exhibition Between the Past and the Coming, which consists of three new installations, she presents a narrative in acrylic, mylar, polyester, silicone and velour, which as the title indicates connects the artist’s in-depth exploration of the boundaries of painting with her more recent departures investigating the total installation as a monumental form.

In the first room of the exhibition the audience meets an extensive floor work made of fragments of Campau’s characteristic painted acrylic sheets produced over the past decade. With the brushstroke as the artist’s signature, here the acrylic sheets form the point of departure for a larger installational whole framed by a raised gangway along the walls of the exhibition space from which the audience can look at the work from above. The past is physically and literally embedded in the installation, irrefutable yet rearranged and viewable from numerous different positions and angles, enabling it to be understood and approached anew.

The rear room of the exhibition is dominated by an overwhelming nine-metre long painting installation, which at first glance seems to block the passage of the viewer. Yet in form and materiality the work not only represents a new aspect of Campau’s practice, but also surprises the audience by revealing new aspects as they venture around and into the work. The work comes most tangibly into being through its interaction with the body of the viewer. Despite its apparently closed character, it is here that the work opens. The space bridging the two large exhibition spaces draws the exhibition together both spatially and through colour, but simultaneously functions as an independent installation of new compositions on both the walls and the floor.

In a Danish context, Ruth Campau’s work is in many ways unique, drawing as it does both on Minimalism’s historical focus on industrial form and mass production, and Expressionism’s insistence on the physical presence of the artist and the tangible working of the artistic material. In the work of Campau, this apparent clash forms a synthesis. Prefabricated materials like plastic, metal, acrylic and silicone meet the physical traces and presence of the hand and brush in a series of planned and controlled gestures that create a framework for the completed work without being able to contain it. Formal and industrial, yet deeply personal and corporeal.

Ruth Campau (b.1955) lives and works in Copenhagen and is a member of the Academy Council and the artist association Grønningen. Her more recent exhibitions include Vertical at Marianne Friis Gallery, Copenhagen; Robert Jacobsen up to date at Esbjerg Art Museum; Pearl at PS Project Space, Amsterdam; Velvet Mirror and Diamonds at Asbæk AAC Showroom, Copenhagen, and My Museum at KUNSTEN Museum of Modern Art, Aalborg. Her works are in private and public collections, including ARKEN Museum for Modern Art, KUNSTEN Museum of Modern Art, Esbjerg Art Museum and the New Carlsberg Foundation. She has furthermore been commissioned to carry out numerous projects in public space.

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