In the spring of 2017, Nicolai Tangen, acting on behalf of the art foundation AKO Kunststiftelse, commissioned two notable Nordic photographic artists to create new works in the old grain silo in Kristiansand. The Norwegian Per Barclay (b. 1955) and the Dane Per Bak Jensen (b. 1949) were given free rein. The exhibition Celestial Enigma presents the photos of Per Bak Jensen that resulted from his work in the silo.
Per Bak Jensen is one of Denmark’s most recognized photographers. He launched his career in the late 1980s, and since his first exhibition, Per Bak Jensen has produced numerous photographic series that confirm his position as a pioneer in modern landscape photography. Many people have described Per Bak Jensen’s pictures as containing an almost metaphysical mood. It draws our attention to parts of the environment we normally do not notice. We see the environment in a new light. This is also the case in his pictures of the grain silo. In one work, the silo shapes rise majestically towards a blue sky; in another, bird droppings on the silo floor are monumentally enlarged. The pictures seem to contain a timelessness that captures the ‘essence’ of the place, a mood or story told through an encounter with the building. Perhaps it is a story about the silo or about people who have been here in the past.
Per Bak Jensen (b. 1949) lives and works in Vemmetoft in Denmark. He studied art at the Kongelige Danske Kunstakademi (1980-86) in Copenhagen and taught at the same institution from 1987 to 2009. His works can be found in several collections, including that of the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Bibliothéque Nationale in Paris and Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, Denmark.
AKO Kunststiftelse and Sørlandets Kunstmuseum
For 20 years, Nicolai Tangen has collected twentieth-century art. The collection consists primarily of Nordic modernist works, but its scope has expanded in recent years to include other Nordic art and craft from the same period. The collection contains a large number of photographs, some also produced after 2000. This part of the collection includes a substantial body of works by Per Bak Jensen.
Nicolai Tangen has given his entire collection to his home town Kristiansand. The gift was publically announced in 2015, and in 2016 the foundation AKO Kunststiftelse was established as the collection’s formal owner. Also in 2016, Sørlandets Kunstmuseum entered into an agreement with AKO Kunststiftelse, whereby the museum would have the permanent right to exhibit works from the foundation’s collection. The art museum’s collections and those collected by Tangen will be collocated in a new art museum built in and around the re-purposed grain silo at Odderøya in Kristiansand.