FRANS WIDERBERG: The Art of Re-Enchantment

When Frans Widerberg made his international debut at the Venice Biennale of 1978, the effect he caused was “the shock of the new”. At the time the dominant idiom was abstraction but Widerberg, the spiritual descendant of Munch, unleashed upon an unsuspecting world images bathed in blazing light. This was a light which as pure as energy seemed to propel a series of extraordinary dramas. 

These events took place in barren wildernesses or galactic space, theatrical arenas where, in Widerberg’s world of meta reality, natural laws did not apply: “I provide myself with a pictorial universe where up is down and down is up; where far away is close and close is even closer – or farther away”, he said.

In these existential voids Widerberg deftly marshals his cast of avatars, alienated humans, floating figures, winged dogs, harpies and bears, all conjured into being in saturated reds, blues and yellows. Often his actors confront each other violently although there is occasional tenderness – and withal there is a mood beyond catharsis, one that is healing and affirmative.

It may seem paradoxical given the fraught nature of much of his iconography but the ultimate mood of his exuberant, ecstatic paintings is positive, restorative. This redemptive, healing process is achieved by a vivid reawakening of our sense of wonder.  As his paintings in the accompanying monograph demonstrate, Widerberg, with his fertile imagination and integrity, has ‘re-enchanted a disenchanted world’.

In this first in-depth overview of the artist’s paintings spanning a career of over fifty years, the authors William Varley, Michael Tucker and Holger Koefoed, place Widerberg in context with international developments and explore the evolution of this extraordinarily multi-disciplined artist.

Paperback, 289 x 260mm
208 pages, 152 full colour illustrations
Editor Mara-Helen Wood
Essays by William Varley, Holger Koefoed and Dr Michael Tucker
ISBN 978-0-947940-02-7
RRP £35.00