Partner Content

First look at renowned Danish artist’s ‘Introspective’ exhibition at Dublin art gallery

A contemporary Danish artist whose new collection of work opens in the Wilton Gallery, Sandycove, explores the Japanese concept of Ma.

Allan Madsen in his Studio, Spain. Images © Allan Madsen 2023

Allan Madsen’s exhibition, Introspective, at the Wilton Gallery, Sandycove, Co Dublin is his first solo exhibition with the gallery. As a contemporary artist, he explores the Japanese concept of Ma. Offering an artistic interpretation of emptiness that focuses on the intention of negative space within an artwork and its value to the motifs it surrounds.

In Japanese culture, Ma refers to a space or a time that is purposefully left empty. Influenced by the spiritual tradition of Shinto, which advocates harmony above all else, Ma places as much importance on the spaces that exist between motifs and individuals as it does on those objects and individuals themselves. All things are made up of, not only themselves, but the space and relations they affect. Ma could be described as the ‘grey area’ that allows people, places, objects, and experiences to co-exist. This coexistence is at the heart of Introspection.

Madsen believes ‘in order to experience a painting you have to be attracted to it, to me any painting has to have beauty.’

He exquisitely renders these new works to balance the classical with contemporary influences, individually prompting a considered reflection. The works generate precious pockets of time for viewers allowing them to detach from their current lives and simply ‘be’.

Madsen’s friend and peer, the late Northern Irish artist Desmond Kinney, expressed the complexity of Madsen’s work when he said: “In all his work my admiration lies in…what he leaves out, wherein lies the secret of all great art.”

Internationally renowned and collected by both institutions and private patrons. His practice is anchored in superb command in draughtsmanship. Madsen’s work is rooted in classical tradition and inspired by the Dutch Masters, Vermeer, and Rembrandt. His use of the brush is refined yet robust, creating simple and sensitive motifs that have strength and spirit. He explores colour, tone, and texture, using rich cobalt blues, bright yellow, greens and reds. There are echoes of Vermeer’s extraordinary use of light in Madsen’s paintings. In his coastal, sunlight-drenched Spanish studio, he skilfully manipulates light and shade to imbue his canvases with an endearing solemnity.

The Danish-born artist’s nuanced use of tactile, earthy tones, meanwhile, is reminiscent of Rembrandt’s textural style, instilling in Madsen’s work an emotional depth that defies the ‘everyday’ items and motifs which often feature in his paintings. The expansive backgrounds around the motifs feel like works of art in themselves, that are fragile, abstract and has a sense of intangibility of space.

A former student of music, Madsen has a unique perspective on the rhythm of pattern and the ‘pitch’ of colour and tone. Through this acute sense of colour, he imbues routine objects with a freshness and a sensitivity that is intriguing. Introspective features a collection of motif-based works, a nod to the baroque style of painting and a landscape. Inspired by the Antonio Lopez & Pedro Cano, Madsen’s landscape have the same meditative power as his motifs.

This beautiful exhibition of Madsen new works’ is curated by the Wilton Gallery, the Director, Ritika Callow offer visitors an opportunity to press pause and enjoy the reprieve that this contemplation of time and space provides. Writer and theologian Thomas Merton once proclaimed: “Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” This exhibition will take you on a journey of discovery that is as much about yourself as it is Allan Madsen and his work.

Introspective runs at Wilton Gallery from 25th May to 18th June.

Wilton Gallery, 55 Glasthule Road, Sandycove, Co Dublin, A96 T2 K3, Ireland + 353 (01) 55 19 165