“Landscape in Finkidong”. Signed Asger J. 45. Oil on canvas. 160×116 cm.
Literature: Guy Atkins: “Jorn in Scandinavia 1930–1953”, London, 1968, no. 389.
Exhibited: “Ung Dansk kunst”, mixed exhibition, Copenhagen, 1945, cat. no. 127.
Exhibited: “Jubilæumsudstilling: De fire kunstnere”. One-man exhibition, together with Kaalund-Jørgensen, Hjorth-Nielsen, Erik Raadal. Preface by Jan Zibrandtsen, Silkeborg, 1949, cat. no. 99 or 100.
Provenance: Johanne Nielsen, Copenhagen.
Provenance: Private collection, Denmark.
At a time when our world is changing and becoming limited in ways that few people have ever experienced before, it is a special pleasure to be able to present this unrestrained summer painting. A life-affirming image from the year of Denmark’s liberation and a great work by Asger Jorn from his early Nordic period. An absolutely competent painting where the large physical format goes hand in hand with the large compositional and artistic formats.
In the 1940s – during the occupation of Denmark – Asger Jorn creates picturesque connections between his impressions from the progressive art scene of Paris in the 1930s and the Danish landscape tradition. The painting from Finkidong – which one must assume is a made-up place – on the one hand, depicts multiple figures in a rolling and lush, green landscape under a tall horizon and a brilliant sun. But it is also a steep frieze, where all elements – as in a medieval painting – are placed on the same level, perspective-wise, and are completely interwoven and advanced on the picture surface. A myriad of small characters and creatures are set on an equal footing against elements in the image that are purely abstract brushstrokes and traces of the picturesque process. In this way, the colour is also released as an expressive element in itself – without any external references.
In his book “Asger Jorns kunst” (The Art of Asger Jorn) from 2014, author and historian Lars Morell uses the concept of 'transformational images' as a very meaningful approach to Jorn's art. It is a metaphor that makes perfect sense, also when it comes to “Landskab i Finkidong” (Landscape in Finkidong), which is literally a kaleidoscope, where individual parts and details change appearance in front of the viewer and at the same time become part of different figurations. Jorn himself wrote about pictorial ambiguity in connection with his stay in Saxnäs in northern Sweden in the summer of 1946, and there are also compositional ties from the works of the period to his automatic drawings from the last years of the 1930s.
“Landskab i Finkidong” is an obvious relative to one of the period's main works, namely “Guganaga” (1945), which today belongs to the ARoS art museum in Aarhus and was the first painting Jorn completed after the liberation of Denmark. There are also obvious parallels to the painting “Midsommerleg” (Midsummer Games), 1945, which belongs to KUNSTEN – Museum of Modern Art in Aalborg. “Landscape in Finkidong” has also – especially in the upper part of the painting – hints of the drawn-out 'Edvard Munch'-inspired interlacing of the brush movement that characterizes “Midsommerleg”. After the war ended, the first trip Jorn took was to Norway, where he saw the National Gallery's exhibition of Edvard Munch's paintings.
The fact that Jorn himself regarded the composition as significant and successful is supported by the fact that the motif also exists in a lithographic version from 1944 – printed in only 40 copies, though not with the painting's title “Landskab i Finkidong” – but rather “Midsommerleg”, which once again emphasizes the relationship to the aforementioned museum works.