Entering Peter Ravn’s world you find yourself balancing on the thin ledge between melancholy and humour. That Ravn is in love with the traditional oil painting is obvious and his figuration is both effortless and restrained.

Although his motifs are recognisable , there’s always something surreal and confusing in his paintings. It may be the position of the figures, their movements or the locations which seem naturalistic on the surface but never really are. Peter Ravn was originally a designer, educated at the Danish Architecture Academy and only debuted as a painter in 2004. Until then he used his original imagery on record sleeves and music videos and in iconic fashion design.

Until now Peter Ravn has worked solely with oil paintings, but for this exhibition he has challenged himself with the addition of three-dimensional works.

In his paintings he always portrays men in spectacular positions – crawling, lying, falling, using sharp light and deep shadow with equal ease and to spectacular effect. His confrontational POV’s and close cropping create drama, which you’re involuntarily drawn into.

The exhibition at KANT Gallery has been titled “His Own Fall” – so, not his own fault, but his own (down) fall. In the most recent paintings the fall is both real and metaphorical. Here we see the man, dragging himself the last inches before the inevitable collapse, the man with his feet in the air, plummeting towards the unseen and the man who, still squirming, just landed on his back.

The backdrop in his new works is often an apparently desolate and unpopulated earth, occasionally abstractly delineated. Sometimes the backdrop for the men is a topographic landscape with few unidentifiable buildings. The delineation is here in the form of roads, paths and a network of connections that seem to have once meant something, now long lost.

It is not clear to the viewer what caused the fall in each painting. You could fall into somebody’s arms, for instance or, in religious terms, into God’s embrace – and thus be free to let go of control. We sometimes seek out the potential freedom from responsibility and in times of crisis when we fall from grace, from status, from good health, we may feel that our entire identity is threatened.

Peter Ravn’s men are all dressed in suits, white shirts and polished shoes. They are the men of anonymity although their clothing signals power. They are authorities, the ones we normally identify with, put faith in – white shirts or not. Here, in the paintings, they are alone in their fall. Their doubts, vulnerability and fiascos are internalised. Their fall, their fault.

Thus, the linguistic twist in the title shows us the close connection between the fall and individualised shame, but also indicates the possibility to take on the fall, to make it your own.

For this exhibition Ravn has created three sculptures on plinths. Original Loden coats have been disassembled and resampled and mounted with great precision on a body-like landscape of curves and lines. The leather-coated buttons are recognisable in the tightly stretched felt-landscape as are small pockets affording views into the shiny lining. Sleeves, coattails and edges are folded over and under one another and the original lines forming pockets, slits and the classic Wiener pleats are transformed into a kind of uninhabited, desolate landscape in a variety of greens – a physical manifestation of some of Ravn’s favourite themes.

A discomforting disquiet runs through Ravn’s motifs but also a promise of another path. Often a bubbling irony coexists with sincerity – as an underlying awareness of life’s absurdity. And perhaps a timely reminder that collapse and crisis are not only connected with pain but also with freedom.

Since 2004 Peter Ravn has exhibited extensively in national and international galleries, museums and exhibition halls. He is represented in numerous private national and international collections and in autumn 2018 he is invited to present his first major solo exhibition at the renowned Danish art institution Munkeruphus.

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