Martin Asbæk Gallery is proud to present the third solo exhibition, The Harlequin Set, with new works by the Danish visual artist Cathrine Raben Davidsen. Given Raben Davidsen’s interest in the staged and theatrical, with this exhibition she creates a number of new narratives. The works range from gigantic richly coloured paintings through charcoal drawings and painted porcelain to a series of masks in cloth and embroidery.
Unlike Raben Davidsen’s earlier production, which explored the more sombre, existential issues, the new works draw on a rich visual tradition within the staged or posed. The colour-saturated figures are composed of geometrical elements and exist in a crossfield between abstraction and realism. In the exhibition there are among other things references to the German Bauhaus artist Oskar Schlemmer’s work Triadic Ballet from 1922. In the ballet the figures appear as living sculptures. The artist’s own photographs and some borrowed from the archives of the Royal Danish Theatre are also specific models, as are elements from the practice of the artist couple Gerda and Einar Wegener. Gerda is best known for her watercolours from the 1920s in which the masked Harlequin appears. She often used her husband as her model – dressed up as the fictive woman Lili Elbe, whom they created together.
The disguise and the mask form a starting point for Raben Davidsen. They refer to rituals and myths, but are also objects of transformation that cause a shift in the nature and identity of the wearer. In the figures and silhouettes of the works, identity and reality are hard to pin down, and behind the use of the mask lies an idea that for a while one can change.
The ceramics are made in collaboration with Royal Copenhagen. Cathrine Raben Davidsen is currently working on a catalogue with photos of her works and a text regarding her practice. The catalogue will be published later this year.
Cathrine Raben Davidsen (b. 1972) trained at the Istituto d’Arte in Florence, De Vrije Academie voor Beeldende Kunst in The Hague, and the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen. Throughout her career Raben Davidsen has worked with a wide range of media. In 2008 she created a monumental drawn wall decoration for NIMB in Copenhagen and in 2010 giant charcoal drawings for the exhibition The Inkwell at the Trapholt Art Museum. In 2012 she exhibited a universe of masks, jars, paintings and sounds in the acclaimed exhibition House of the Ax at GL STRAND, Copenhagen. Raben Davidsen is represented in several private collections in Denmark and abroad, and in a number of the country’s museums, including the national gallery, Statens Museum for Kunst.