Per Kirkeby announced the end of his career as a painter in 2015. His collaboration with BORCH Editions, which dates back as far as 1979, continued nevertheless, and in 2017 he created a series of multi-coloured monoprints in collaboration with master printer Mette Ulstrup.
It was in Niels Borch Jensen’s studio that Kirkeby first started experimenting with printmaking techniques and colouration and became acquainted with the production of monotypes and monoprints. Monoprints are unique prints created from a printing plate. When creating his 2017 prints, Kirkeby initially worked on copper plates in a variety of etching techniques. After Mette Ulstrup had inked the plates, he added individual marks in watercolour to complete the composition. The result is a series of dense, multi-layered prints merging Kirkeby’s signature painterly expression with his decades of printmaking experience.
Printmaking was a crucial part of Per Kirkeby’s artistic practice. As Danish journalist Peter Michael Hornung put it, “it is wrong to assume that Kirkeby is a painter who also makes prints. He is rather a printmaking artist who also paints.” When working on plates, Kirkeby translates the explosive surfaces and textures of his paintings into acid, copper sparks and deep scratches. Working with a scientifically educated eye – Kirkeby also held a degree in arctic geology – he developed a unique visual vocabulary between abstraction and figuration that was inspired by natural phenomena without aiming at naturalistic representation.