Jeppe Hein

This Way

November 15, 2015 – March 13, 2016



Which direction? Right or left or straight ahead? The Danish artist Jeppe Hein (b. 1974) does not make this decision for the visitor. In his largest exhibi­tion to date he purpo­se­fully disre­gards conven­tional exhibi­tion practice by trans­forming the Kunstmuseum’s hall into a labyrinth compri­sing large, small, trian­gular, rectan­gular or polygonal spaces, narrow and broad paths, dead-end streets, inter­sec­tions and squares.

“This Way” addresses these external and internal paths. While several of Hein’s works cover some distance themselves other pieces set the visitors in motion. There are ways that lead to an under­stan­ding of the artworks, ways through the history of art when associa­tive compa­ri­sons make themselves evident; emotional ways when the task at hand is to make a decision and let oneself in for the artworks; social ways when one takes up the dialogue with other visitors or ways of reflec­tion and recogni­tion when the questions Jeppe Hein poses himself are embraced by the viewer who endeavors to find his own answer. Jeppe Hein unlocks a very special way, one that is usually closed: the way to the artist himself.

The exhibi­tion is marked by Jeppe Hein’s very personal way, which has been deter­mined by an existen­tial search after being diagnosed with burnout in December 2009. An essential part of his way back to health has been the 3253 water­co­lors that line the labyrinthine spatial structure of “This Way.” They are mood sketches, symbols, thoughts, emotions, messages, insights, cries for help, fears, desires, visua­lized breathing exercises, swirls of color – a movingly honest inner map of Jeppe Hein’s soul.

Medita­tion, concen­tra­tion and breathing exercises as well as yoga now shape Jeppe Hein’s everyday life and have had an influence on his art. The scope of his materials has expanded to include the water­color, whose waves and faces fill entire walls in the exhibi­tion for the first time. For those familiar with the aesthe­tics of Jeppe Hein’s minima­listic works, this new side of his oeuvre will come as a surprise. Sound, resonance, silence, fragrance or breathing mark his recent pieces in which his dealings with Buddhism and Hinduism are evident. Made especially for the show, his large piece Chakra Enligh­ten­ment that hangs like a spiral in the middle of the exhibi­tion hall, repres­ents Jeppe Hein’s personal inter­pre­ta­tion of the seven chakras. The “Breathing Water­co­lours” likewise result from breathing techni­ques that engulf the wall in “This Way”—one brush­stroke  one breath.

But Jeppe Hein does not demand that viewers share his own spiri­tua­lity. Instead, everyone is offered the same immediate acces­si­bi­lity to his works. An intuitive, physical and emotional percep­tion of them is of greater impor­t­ance for the artist than a conten­tual or intel­lec­tual approach. “This Way” is conceived as a diver­si­fied field of experi­ence through the combi­na­tion of new site-specific pieces and his previous works: loud and soft, subtle and aggres­sive, fast and slow, spiritual and material. These shifts in mood, tempo and energy provide a challenge to the mind, the body and the senses. Being in the moment is what Jeppe Hein is concerned with: “I am right here right now.”

This unbur­dened experi­mental possi­bi­lity of approa­ching Jeppe Hein’s art is closely related to the essence of his work, namely its social function. The artist addresses people of all ages, backgrounds, and levels of education. He not only promotes a dialogue between work, viewer and surroun­dings but also creates situa­tions where people encounter each other, playfully genera­ting vibra­tions that confront the desire for social resonance which perma­nently accom­pa­nies us while we try to find our own ways. In the digital age Jeppe Hein employs experi­ences of analog communications.

 The exhibi­tion is supported by Volks­wagen Financial Services AG.