Throughout his career Søren Behncke has been invested in the language of art. He has developed a distinct vocabulary in drawing, painting and sculpture. With the exhibition Alphabet he has distilled and refined his artistic practice and composed a visual alphabet. An alphabet of birds, bottles, brushes, cars, cups, cloths, doors, hats, scissors, tables, trees, torsos, tombstones and many more objects. This alphabet is manifested in paintings, sculptures and linocut prints. Objects from other artists’ studios and paintings are appropriated - a door and a cloth from Van Gogh’s studio in Arles, a birdcage from Matisse in Nice, a pitcher and a stack of china from Le Corbusier’s studio kitchen, a lamp from Fernand Léger’s Académie Moderne in Paris, the wonderful outsider James Castle’s moldy old hat and a car from Claes Oldenburg. Stylistically the alphabet bears little resemblance to the artists that influenced it. Still there is a strong element of lineage in Alphabet. Behncke has studied thousands of doors – walking in and out of them, resting in their frame – in paintings, in drawings and in photos. He has painted them, drawn them, printed them and sculpted them. He has notebooks full of doors. All this door knowledge is reduced to an image. An ideogram of a door. A door in a painting of Van Gogh’s studio. A door in a painting of L’académie Moderne. A door to enter or exit a painting. The basic beginning of a narrative.
Exploring Behncke’s Alphabet we feel the intuitive pull of understanding and relation. His alphabet lets us unlock not only the works within the exhibition, but a language of art. A way of seeing and communicating the world. We recognize the rooms we have never been in. We are moved by objects that are not supposed to move us. Beyond verbal or written language. We can identify ancestral sentiments.
Alphabet feels timeless. Ancient contemporary.