Mie Olise Kjærgaard: Holding Space
Karpidas Collection, Dallas Texas. February 25 – May13, 2023
By Sara Hignite, Curator.
Employing wide, expressionistic brushstrokes, Danish artist Mie Olise Kjærgaard (b. 1974) boldly paints energetic young women who are immersed in their own lives and pay the viewer no mind. The title of Kjærgaard’s show, Holding Space, considers the artist’s position as someone who can hold space, i.e., support or care, for their subjects while also allowing them to take up space. Experimenting with scale and perspective, Kjærgaard affords her female figures the luxury of unapologetically occupying space in the world. Indeed, many of her subjects can hardly be contained within the constraints of the canvas.
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For the nine new paintings on view here, commissioned in 2022 by Pauline Karpidas, Kjærgaard’s young women move effortlessly between fantastical scenes (flying astride a giant bird) and engagement in ordinary activities: tying a shoelace, sprawling on the floor with a book, skateboarding in a pantsuit, or Wondering What to Become (2022). Regardless of setting, her subjects do what they want, refusing to perform according to prescribed gender roles.
Kjærgaard’s practice is firmly rooted in feminist art theory, and her paintings not only subvert but move entirely beyond traditional notions of the male artist’s gaze. Rather than idealization or objectification, Kjærgaard’s gentle gaze is grounded in honesty and the empowerment of her protagonists. In this way, Kjærgaard and her band of women reclaim the gaze – and their agency – as an act of resistance against dominant patriarchal structures.
In considering artworks for the supplemental exhibition Your Gaze, which takes its title from Barbara Kruger’s 1981 feminist tour de force, Kjærgaard began by asking questions: How does a woman see herself and others? How does she make her perception of the world visible to others?
As you will discover, this investigation yielded a remarkable selection of artworks by women – culled from the Karpidas Collection and spanning forty years – that present entirely unique aesthetic and conceptual points of view. With Your Gaze, Kjærgaard pays homage to some of the pioneering artists who have deeply influenced and inspired her artistic practice.