Friday February 25, Hans Alf Gallery invites everyone to join the opening of Mie Olise Kjærgaards new solo exhibition, which is fittingly called “Muses Having Fun”
As a figurative painter, Mie Olise Kjærgaard insists on putting women at the center of her paintings: Women, who unashamed and cheekily look the audience dead in the eye; women, who unaffected and freely immerse themselves in their own projects, create their own world. In a way, Kjærgaard conjures up a utopian parallel universe, a harmonic, non-hierarchical, egalitarian free space inhabited by women and children and exotic animals. As an audience, we are witnessing a construction that stems from a deeply rooted desire to challenge the convention of women as objects of the male gaze; fragile, graceful bodies void of will, mindlessly allowing themselves to be portrayed as mere examples of natural beauty. As a flower composition or a forest lake. The women in Mie Olise Kjærgaard’s paintings are not frail or timid, but robust and vocal. They are energetic and make things happen. Here you’ll find no forbidden lust hidden behind well-dressed manners or milky white hands discretely making the Yoni sign in the lap of a bourgeois silk dress. In Kjærgaard’s paintings, both the women and the audience have moved on.
Similarly, in the paintings as tangible reality and matter, we are far from the more conventional conceptions of the properties of “female painting”. Kjærgaard paints big, spontaneous, and expressive, her canvasses are often enormous and her brush strokes violent. It is a separate point to her production that no such thing as feminine or masculine painting exists – only painting, period. For that same reason, Mie Olise Kjærgaard’s propensity for scale shouldn’t be seen as an attempt to emulate the masculine painting or inhabit a space reserved for male artists – she paints the way she does, simply because it suits her personality: She is energetic, imaginative, ever-curious, and a bit of a dreamer.
Kjærgaard’s paintings inevitably focus on disruption as both a social phenomenon and a fundamental condition of living. Something is only just able to balance; a ship is on its way in one direction, a bicycle moves in another. A giant critter is curled up and has almost been physically forced into the picture frame, which threatens to give in to the pressure. Someone shuffles away with an enormous moving load, with laundry and birdcages and suitcases tied to the carrier of a bike. Everything is just about to tip over at any point. Kjærgaard’s characters are nomads, and her hammerhead sharks and dragons and horses are symbols of the fluidity of life, on the occasional absurdity of everything, and all the existential curveballs that her stoic heroines must constantly deal with. And every time, they succeed, they manage to keep their balance and footing in the maelstrom of life, they maintain their focus without loosing eye contact. And they even seem to be having fun through all of it.
“Muses Having Fun” is a crystallized vision of modern mother- and sisterhood, and the courage to play, be creative and true to oneself as a woman. Regardless of whether you buy into the underlying philosophy or not, the exhibition is an unequivocal statement about women’s liberation and feminism in the 21st century. And one thing is for certain: Mie Olise Kjærgaard’s muses steal the show.