Various Small Fires is proud to present Copenhagen-based artist Mie Olise Kjærgaard in her first solo presentation with the gallery. Toward Infinity and Beyond, on view in Dallas, features all new paintings depicting a cast of brazenly confident women. The show opens in conjunction with an additional exhibition of commissioned paintings at the nearby Karpidas Collection.
Kjærgaard began painting at fifteen years old. Today, through subject matter and the physical act of painting, she captures the fierce energy of adolescence. She cites core memories from childhood that ignite the sensation of mastering her own body, including learning to ride a bike with no hands and climbing trees. These experiences encapsulate an ultimate freedom for Kjærgaard and represent a radical act of having fun without fear of judgment.
The women depicted in Toward Infinity and Beyond possess this bold nature. In one painting, a group of figures perform acroyoga on a boat while impossibly balanced on each other. Energetic brushstrokes illustrate their hair projecting outward in a wild fashion while their expressions appear to be unconcerned with how they should look or behave. In another painting, two women tame and become one with a menacing beast. Together they mount the animal and grab the reins to ride it into the distance.
The largest work in the show, Band on Ship, 2022, serves as an exemplar of Kjærgaard’s practice. The monumentally scaled diptych requires a physicality in the studio that she thrives on. Brushstrokes are generated from fully extended arms and imbue the canvas with ferocious movement. This performative energy is translated into the larger-than-life figures who wield their instruments and gaze intently out at the viewer, disrupting the standard performer / audience gaze.
Kjærgaard’s women resonate deeply during a political moment in Texas and other conservative states where the rights and voices of women are contested. The artist challenges this plight, offering a universe where her figures are brimming with agency, act on their own desires, and exist on their own terms.