Marie Birkedal (1976) is a Danish artist graduated from Funen Art Academy (2010 MFA) based in Berlin since 2013. Marie Birkedal works with materiality, entropic processes, and the imperfect sublime. She makes visceral haptic works exploring the essence of painting in a praxis she defines as “empathy and alchemy”.
Marie Birkedal’s work borrows from ancient and modern sources alike 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.
The work comes about in a hyper-focused wordless state in a balance of planned process and spontaneity. 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. The paint develops through evaporation leaving dust-like traces, making the paintings seem evoked rather than made. The luminous washes and powerful brushstrokes radiate an ephemeral presence and the paintings appear to be breathing beings.
Marie Birkedal’s works encapsulate time as a material equally to paint and canvas. The works are not alla prima; the translucent tactile thinned color requires 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 view 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.