Opening reception: Saturday, November 12, 6–8pm
Blum & Poe is pleased to present The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, an exhibition of new paintings by Copenhagen-based artist Alexander Tovborg. This marks Tovborg’s first solo presentation with Blum & Poe.
The exhibition takes its name from William Blake's book of prose, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1790). Each work makes reference to a specific proverb from the poet's Proverbs of Hell, with titles such as “The Cut Worm Forgives the Plow” or “The Road of Excess Leads to the Palace of Wisdom.” With these very words etched into the gold leaf edging of the paintings, this literary source serves as a point of departure for the series. In this new body of work, Tovborg meticulously applies layer upon layer of thinned acrylic to cut felt squares, which are then collaged atop wooden panel.
The artist has described the exhibition as a "wedding procession" in which each painting participates and plays a role, an assembly that unifies notions of heaven and hell, God and the devil. At the center of the procession, we find a commanding triptych PROVERBS OF HELL (the marriage of heaven and hell) jesus, church, hitler, 2016 — in which Jesus and Hitler, mounted on creatures of prehistory, are married by the Church, as represented by a bell toller. This series also summons Greek minotaurs and Celtic dragons alike, engendering an allegorical aesthetic whose imagery is laden with icons derived from the artist’s interest in religious ritualism, metaphysics, history painting, and mythological symbolism. When taken as a whole, the exhibition functions as an overarching parable of good vs. evil.
Painting, drawing, sculpture, and performance share equal space in Tovborg’s multidisciplinary practice. As Tom Morton aptly noted in Frieze, “Tovborg explores the central role that religion might play in how our species imagines itself, and the seen and unseen worlds it inhabits.”
Alexander Tovborg (b. 1983, Copenhagen) lives and works in Copenhagen. He received his BA from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen and his MFA from Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Karlsruhe, Germany. His work has been featured in exhibitions worldwide, including at the State of Concept, Athens (2016); Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2013); Hospitalhof, Stuttgart, Germany (2012); Museo Nacional de la Estampa, Mexico City (2012); and the Museum of Religious Art, Lemvig, Denmark (2011). At Blum & Poe, Los Angeles in 2015, Tovborg’s work was included in The Avant-Garde Won’t Give Up: Cobra and Its Legacy, a rereading of the Cobra postwar movement curated by Alison M. Gingeras.