YIELD TO THE NIGHT
April 19 – May 17
Gerhard Hofland is proud to present new works by the painter Michael Kirkham. Kirkham’s paintings are well-known for their explicit sexual depictions. Naked or half naked individuals that perform sexual acts or stand in erotic poses force themselves upon the viewer. At first glance one could say that these paintings are the equivalent of the books by Michel Houellebeqc, the French writer who enhances the excesses of liberal Western civilisation and portrays love and sex as banalities. However, Kirkham’s paintings aren’t purely pornographic or banal: instead of seducing they express a melancholic and even uncanny atmosphere. Gloomy are the interiors in which Kirkham places his figures, a sexual pose of a woman on a shabby couch in a dreary apartment ventilates loneliness and misery. Besides, the often surrealistic use of light and the deformation of the perspective give the scenes an alienating quality. This mixture of fantasy and reality is also evident in the way Kirkham depicts the individual’s bodies. He creates them from his mind, while painting which at times results in anatomical distortions. Together these elements create an ironic distance from the pornographic imagery. Also Kirkham’s attentive and careful way of painting make even the most despicable scenes of human misery and dreariness attractive to look at. Especially in the accurate attention for detail a deep empathy prevails for the human condition and human’s deepest urges that propel him forward in a world full of contradictions.
Michael Kirkham lives and works in Berlin. He completed his formal training at the Glasgow School of Art and De Ateliers in Amsterdam. After graduating, he lived and worked in Brussels for three years before moving to Berlin in 2002. His work is represented in the collections of Gemeentemuseum The Hague, Centraal Museum in Utrecht and the Museum voor Moderne Kunst Arnhem. In 2009 Kirkham took part in the exhibition Diana + Actaeon, Der Verbotene Blick auf die Nacktheit in Museum Kunst Palast, Dusseldorf. Recently his work was represented in the exhibition Lebenslust und Totentanz in Kunsthalle Krems in Ostria.