A face averted

   – Torben Weirup.

It is obviously a coincidence – but anyway:

When Siri Gindesgaard wrote to me about writing something for this publication, the media where still filled with the sadness of Leonard Cohen’s death a few days earlier.

Leonard Cohen wrote songs about Suzanne and Marianne and of the women he had known during his time. Women he had met hotels, danced with and shared a meal and a bed with for shorter or longer periods. The mood of Leonard Cohen’s songs is marked by a deep melancholy; perhaps delight in the memory of the women he had known, but mixed with sadness over the loss of a close relationship with another human being.

One can find a similar melancholy in several of Siri Gindesgaards paintings. One of Siri Gindesgaards main motives are precisely younger women. It happens that there is more to the picture, but usually they are alone and she portrays them often sunk in thought with their face frequently turned away from the viewer and sometimes partially undressed sitting in a chair or a couch, maybe on a bed, so the legs or some of the thigh is exposed in a way that is not erotically provocative, but in a casual position we can take when we think ourselves unnoticed, unseen, convinced that we are in our own private space.

Some of the anonymous and impersonal interior, Siri Gindesgaard has placed the females can evoke hotel rooms; temporary addresses, somewhere on a journey or suitable for erotic encounters. However, it is not the last thing that is going on in Siri Gindesgaards images. Women are in their very own private space. A very unscientific survey about what women do when they come alone to a hotel during a trip, suggest that women take off their shoes, lie down on the bed or couch and rest for a moment before they again must face the world. A picture of Siri Gindesgaard depicting a woman sitting on a bed, as if she has just changed clothes, called for example ‘Before dinner’. Dutifully eating or pleasure?

The curtains are drawn, one imagines that in order to achieve maximum tranquillity – but Siri Gindesgaard let us nevertheless look into the rooms to the women in a private moment. What are their secrets? Who are they? What do they dream about in the half-waking state; Siri Gindesgaard sometimes depicts them in?

The realistic painting; figurative, narrative, etc., has been announced dead many times in recent history. For example, since photography was invented, and has today become so widespread, that social media is filled with images of our loved ones, and ourselves and we share these with each other, because we want to tell the world how we will be perceived. As in portrait painting’s long history.

Some have also expressed the view that the (photo) realistic picture is too easy – when seen in relation to painting other isms and visual arts in other media.

Why? Because one can immediately see what the picture is. Our eyes are trained to quickly perceive and decode messages in the media and in public spaces.

Figurative painting has many qualities that should not be overlooked. Abstract paintings, non-figurative sculptures and installations also tells stories – but figurative painting opens up in a very special way through its familiarity and – when successful – credible representation of reality. It looks like. We can see what the picture is. But it is here, the eye begins to move around the canvas, to capture the details and see how they support the whole. We look at paintings trying to understand how the picture is painted, and the techniques the artist used. In Siri Gindesgaard pictures a technically impressive work with colour and brush that endows the scenes with these – and there it is again: Melancholic – shades of grey that are essential for the story.

The motifs Siri Gindesgaard uses can include images from old photographs. These are not necessarily her own photographs. Nor even people she has known. But – presumably – people whose posture or movement in space has aroused the artist’s curiosity. Other sources of inspiration are the history of art from P.S. Krøyers melancholy figures on a beach in Skagen and Vilhelm Hammershøi quiet rooms with dust dancing in the sunlight for Gerhard Richter’s faces turned away and Peter Martensen’s gatherings of people.

Many of the modern, new realist painters, Siri Gindesgaard included can be said to have a certain kinship, often filling their images with objects that may represent secrets. Jars, boxes and other containers, chests, closed cabinets etc.

Secrets are also in Siri Gindesgaards paintings. For it is possible that one can easily read a figurative painting and – in Siri Gindesgaards – note that they look like women, sometimes children, usually located in some diffuse and indefinable space. A title can provide a clue. And yet not! The title does not reveal the picture narrative. There is not one authorized narrative. There are many stories; each considers him self put into what they see. And although the story has been decided, may change over time or after mood. You see and you will be changed by what you see.

If anything Siri Gindesgaards paintings revolve around moods. About hushed; melancholic moods. The moods women find themselves in private moments, Siri Gindesgaard has chosen to portray them. Women are what we generally understand as beautiful. They are “easy to look at,” as they say in the pub and one might be led to believe that they are lonely. But it does not make Siri Gindesgaards women either weak or victims. On the contrary, you can choose to see them as independent and strong women on their way through life, and here and there captured by the artist in moments where they are completely themselves.


Art critic, Torben Weirup/Berlingske Tidende

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