Fallen fruit: Victoria Miro presents John Kørner’s ‘Apple Bombs’

Lleft: Running Along Apples, 2016. Right: Organising Honey, 2016
Victoria Miro in London is staging a new exhibition by Danish artist John Kørner, called 'Apple Bombs'.
(Image credit: Victoria Miro)

Danish artist John Kørner follows world news in his paintings with an almost journalistic vigour. Through his abstract watercolours, he has addressed everything from the war in Afghanistan to Danish sex workers. He once said that if art fails to connect with something socially relevant, it has closed too tightly around itself.

If this is the case, his new exhibition is thrown wide open. This week, Victoria Miro gallery (who have championed the Copenhagen-based artist’s work for a decade) launch 'Apple Bombs', a series of Kørner's newest 'socially relevant' works. Unusually, these paintings aren't intended to represent a single situation, place, or political moment. ‘This week, they might represent the Middle East,’ Kørner explains, ‘and next week, somewhere completely different. It’s up to you.’

One thing’s certain – the paintings’ locations are successfully ambiguous. Icy peaks give way to arid landscapes, which sit side by side with dateless architecture. ‘I find abstraction to be the best tool I have to address the serious matters I want to convey,’ Kørner explains. ‘In this instance, I didn’t want to literally paint soldiers.’ His intention was to give the paintings a universal quality, ‘so different audiences can add their own experiences and stories’.

Instead of soldiers, Kørner depicts beekeepers. On why he made this sideways move, he notes, ‘I am interested in the expression, “the land of milk and honey”. Beekeepers try and protect the good life, the sweet life.’ And so he paints beekeepers innocently tending their charges, seemingly oblivious to the brooding, war-torn skies overhead.

But why apples? ‘Apples are about the purest, sweetest thing I can think of,' Kørner explains, 'and apples also have an iconic place in history.' The speed in which Kørner reels off the biblical and mythical background of the apple suggests some serious thought has gone into this motif, and it’s inclusion isn’t to be taken lightly.

For Kørner, the apple is a ‘true fruit', and the fact that they are seen descending hypnotically all over his paintings represents ‘a fall from grace’. His intention was for the beekeepers to feel overwhelmed and ‘stunned’ by the oppressive apple bombs – which become sickly and saccharine as they roll in spilled honey.

It seems there are metaphors within metaphors in Kørner’s complex new exhibition – like the great journalistic artist that he is, Kørner allows us to read into them as much as we like, ensuring that they nag at our imagination long after we've left the gallery.

The paintings are not intended to represent a single situation, place, or political moment.

The paintings are not intended to represent a single situation, place, or political moment. Pictured: installation view

(Image credit: Victoria Miro)

Apple Bombs, 2016

Instead, Kørner intended the image to represent something more universal, that different audiences could apply their own experiences to. Pictured: Apple Bombs, 2016

(Image credit: Victoria Miro)

Icy peaks give way to arid landscapes, which sit side by side with dateless architecture

One thing’s certain – the paintings’ locations are successfully ambiguous. Icy peaks give way to arid landscapes, which sit side by side with dateless architecture

(Image credit: Victoria Miro)

It seems there are metaphors within metaphors in Kørner’s complex new exhibitio

Kørner explains, ‘I find abstraction to be the best tool I have to address the serious matters I want to convey’

(Image credit: Victoria Miro)

For Kørner, the apple is a ‘true fruit'

For Kørner, the apple is a ‘true fruit', and the rhythmical descending apples that wash over his paintings represent ‘a fall from grace’

(Image credit: Victoria Miro)

INFORMATION

‘John Kørner: Apple Bombs’ is on view until 14 May. For more information, visit the Victoria Miro website (opens in new tab)

Photography courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro

ADDRESS

Victoria Miro
16 Wharf Road
London, N1 7RW

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Elly Parsons is the Digital Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees Wallpaper.com and its social platforms. She has been with the brand since 2015 in various roles, spending time as digital writer – specialising in art, technology and contemporary culture – and as deputy digital editor. She was shortlisted for a PPA Award in 2017, has written extensively for many publications, and has contributed to three books. She is a guest lecturer in digital journalism at Goldsmiths University, London, where she also holds a masters degree in creative writing. Now, her main areas of expertise include content strategy, audience engagement, and social media.