“This is How they Crawl”—this painting by Danish artist Peter Ravn immediately makes an impact on the viewer. Two male figures on the floor, faces beyond the stretch of the canvas, look well-dressed, are quite possibly professionals. But they’re also caught in a moment of suspension—between two frames of mind, perhaps ideologies.
This tension defines much of Ravn’s work. Men appear to oscillate between the capitalistic narrative of ambition and growth, the climbing of the corporate ladder and the desire for something more or else. Their confusion, helplessness, lack of fulfillment and quiet desperation are translated into surreal visuals that exude both melancholy and humour.
The artist considers his male characters as “undertaking a problematic search for his place in modernity.” A discomforting disquiet runs through Ravn’s motifs but also the 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. Ravn’s executes his scenes and situations with a genuineness that make his art instantly relatable.
Peter Ravn holds a master’s degree from The Danish Art Academy’s school of architecture and debuted as a painter only in 2004. Until then he used his original imagery on record sleeves, music videos and fashion design. Since then Ravn has exhibited extensively in national and international galleries, museums and exhibition halls.
The artist is represented by Gallery Kant in Copenhagen. He recently had a solo exhibition, “The Fall”, at Rudolph Tegner Museum (in Dronningmølle, north of Copenhagen). A monograph from the show is available on the artist’s online shop. In addition to painting, Ravn’s work includes sculpture, photography and large scale installation.