I am a painter, I work with painting. My work is about color and surface. And in that is everything else.

Marie Birkedal (1976) is a Danish artist based in Berlin since 2013. She studied English literature at Roskilde University (BA), Art History at the University of Copenhagen, painting at The Royal Danish Academy, and graduated MFA from Funen Art Academy in 2010. Marie Birkedal works with materiality, entropic processes, and the imperfect sublime. She makes visceral haptic works exploring the materiality of paint in a praxis she defines as “empathy and alchemy”.

Marie Birkedal explores the essence of painting, her work borrows from ancient and modern sources combining seeming contradictions, she is equally inspired by Fayum mummy portraits and John McCracken. Throughout her two decade practice, she has treated painting with an On Kawara like investigative intensity and devotion. She is asking questions, not giving answers.

Before working Marie Birkedal clears her mind from words and ideas. The colors are mixed in advance and the materials organized in such a way that many decisions are taken before painting. This preparation empower spontaneity in a state of wordless hyperfocus.

Marie Birkedal thins her paints to the point where the binder breaks and only the pigment remains, which makes the paint so liquid it gives the painting a degree of autonomy and makes the paint develop through evaporation leaving dust-like traces, the paintings seem evoked rather than made. They radiate presence and appear to be breathing beings and communicate a vulnerability, there is nothing hidden behind overpainting, all traces and actions are visible in the translucency.

Marie Birkedal’s works encapsulates time, time is as much a material of the paintings as pigment and canvas. The works are not made alla prima; the translucent tactile thinned colors, require that each layer is completely dry until the next. There are long periods of emptiness where seemingly nothing happens but everything happens. Just as she does not recognize negative space as a non-space in her works, she does not view waiting as non-time.

To Marie Birkedal the tactile haptic experience is an equally valid way of understanding and being in the world as words and language, she believes that there is a code of communication and understanding that is visual and outside language.