Michael Kvium
Circus Europa

Feb. 8, 2018 – May 6, 2018 This exhibition has ended
Michael Kvium, Stand Up Comedy, 2016. Photo: Anders Sune Berg
The Danish artist Michael Kvium is known for the figurative visual language he uses to tackle the existential themes of humanity. In the exhibition ‘Circus Europa’, Kvium takes the circus as a metaphor for our time to portray a world of entertainment where even the most serious news is characterized by sensationalism and drama. Kvium focuses on the situation in Europe and has chosen to represent the political arena and daily life in the form of a circus performance. He draws the public into the circus ring, into the midst of lunacy and madness. This theatrically staged exhibition – presented as an allencompassing installation – will show a wide array of new works, including paintings, films and sculptures.

Circus Europa

Michael Kvium is putting up some inconvenient questions. With mordant irony and a raw sense of humour, Kvium uncovers the absurdities of our society. The exhibition mainly focuses on Kvium’s reflections on our blindness and therefore our lack of action towards the state of art in Europe and the world right now. For instance with issues like fake news, the refugee crisis and climate change. According to Kvium ‘Circus Europa’ is a reality and his response to it is not nice or decorative. His paintings are populated by tragicomic circus performers who entertain the viewer with their ignorant and morbid tricks, such as the unsuccessful-looking circus performer with a large toy horse around his waist, or the man in the top hat wearing oversized pants who hopes to create some excitement around what these pants will reveal. 

Politics and Society

The triptych ‘The Beach of Plenty, 2017’, the largest painting in the exhibition, shows a refugee boat arriving at a beach that is populated by tourists and features a man fighting for his life in the breaking waves. The people are all watching, but nobody is helping or responding. Kvium’s main motivation to paint can be found in his revolt against his own increasing helplessness with regard to the loss of dignity and the failure of humanity to tackle the current global problems.  “The building is falling down and we’re talking about furnishings”. 

Michael Kvium 

Michael Kvium (1955, Horsens, Denmark) lives and works in Spain and Denmark. After studying at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen he rapidly established an important position in both the Scandinavian and international art worlds. From the start of his career, Kvium has often worked with theatre and performance. These aspects still play an important role in his paintings as he aims to enter into a dialogue with the viewer through his work. Kvium’s work is frequently exhibited, among other places in Sweden (2015, Dunkers Kulturhus), Denmark (2014, ARoS Aarhus Art Museum) and China (2012, Red Brick Museum, Beijing). Kvium’s work is frequently exhibited, among other places in Denmark (2017, ARKEN Museum of Modern Art), Sweden (2015, Dunkers Kulturhus) and China (2012, Red Brick Museum, Beijing). For the first time, an extensive selection of his works will now be shown in the Netherlands.


The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue, ‘Michael Kvium: Circus Europa', co-published by ARKEN Museum Of Modern Art.
The catalogue costs €18,- and is for sale at the Kunsthal shop.

More Kvium

Michael Kvium, Illusion, 2016. Foto Anders Sune Berg.jpg
Michael Kvium, Illusion, 2016. Foto: Anders Sune Berg
Michael Kvium i atelieret, 2016. Foto Ken Hermann.jpg
Michael Kvium in zijn atelier, 2016. Foto: Ken Hermann
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