The Horse Rider's Journal

Group exhibition explores the fascination with the horse as a symbol and myth in contemporary art

Ho 108

Catch a different kind of horse show at V1 Gallery in Copenhagen’s Meatpacking district.

TEXT Anne Ulrikke Bak PHOTOGRAPHY Courtesy of V1 and Eighteen

Think about how the horse is represented in art and you might conjure images of ancient cave paintings, rider statues or portraits of warhorses charging into battle. Most people recognise the famous stop motion film The Horse in Motion made by Eadweard Muybridge in 1878 to clarify whether a galloping horse is ever fully airborne.

In Danish art history the image of the horse seems inextricably linked to the work The Horse Sacrifice, a ritual sacrifice and dissection of a horse by Lene Adler Petersen and Bjørn Nørgaard. The happening took place in 1970 as a protest against the war in Vietnam and provoked indignation and debate. Right now, The Horse Sacrifice can be seen alongside other equestrian works of art by artists such as Wes Lang, Per Kirkeby, Tomer Aluf, Karen Kilimnik, Rose Eken and many more at V1 and Eighteen Gallery’s exhibition Horses, which seeks to examine the horse as symbol and myth in culture and history.

Left to right: Jonathan Meese, Der Erzkuss des Hot-Pegasus, 2011, assemblage, mixed media; Troels Carlsen, Your Friend, 2017, acrylic on paper collage framed with true colour glass; Richard Colman, Creep, 2017, charcoal, acrylic and graphite on canvas
Left to right: Jonathan Meese, Der Erzkuss des Hot-Pegasus, 2011, assemblage, mixed media; Troels Carlsen, Your Friend, 2017, acrylic on paper collage framed with true colour glass; Richard Colman, Creep, 2017, charcoal, acrylic and graphite on canvas

“Last year we exhibited a big painting of a rider and a horse by the British artist Danny Fox on Chart Art Fair, and in that context we had a conversation with Danish artist Rose Eken about how many of the artists we like who often use horses in their work,” director and co-owner of V1 gallery Jesper Elg explains. “We found it kind of strange. Why was it exactly the horse they were intrigued by? How come the horse has always been a common and recurring figure? We decided to examine it and wrote a wish list of artists we would like to contribute with their interpretations of the horse in contemporary art.”

Genevieve Figgis, Three Men on Horses, 2017, acrylic on gesso panel
Genevieve Figgis, Three Men on Horses, 2017, acrylic on gesso panel

Some of the works picture the horse as a requisition or a work tool. Danish artist Rose Eken contributes with a large scale ceramic installation of tack, saddle, bridle, a double bridle, leather lead ropes, leather boots, a hat, a whip and four different bits, a Pavo bucket with grooming gear and care products; a hoof pick, hoof oil, a rubber comb, a metal comb, a dandy brush and carrots. And with red, blue and green rosettes, a Dala horse, a mug that says LIFE IS BETTER WITH A HORSE and the fangirl horse magazine Wendy she thematizes the romanticism and fetishism connected to stable life.

Rose Eken, glazed paper clay, 2017
Rose Eken, glazed paper clay, 2017

“We aimed for an exhibition that had a clear diversity in expression, media and content,” Jesper Elg notes. “We hoped to illuminate the horse as both motive and myth and to make the audience consider their own relationship to the horse and its different functions in our culture, both practical and through history. It is remarkable that the horse is somehow hard to capture. It is difficult to draw, to paint and to sculpture. It is clear when you study statues of riders and horses. The proportions are often weird, almost comical. That’s also one of the reasons we wanted a visually wide span, from very specific to more abstract art. We wished to see the horse represented and interpreted in all its different shades and with all the different feelings tied to it.”

Horses at V1 runs until August 5th 2017 at Flæsketorvet 69-71, Copenhagen V

For more information, please visit V1’s website here