Monthly Archive for September, 2017

Danish Comics of the Year 2016


Here’s my contribution to Paul Gravett’s annual review of international comics: the best Danish comics of 2015, in my opinion. A bit of a fallow year, but the ones that were good, were really good. Here they are:

Hvad føler du lige nu? (‘What are you feeling right now?’)
by Philip Ytournel
Aben maler
Ytournel is the brightest and probably funniest newspaper cartoonist in Denmark. At their best, his strips break the old, long-established boundaries in terms of format, medium and — most importantly — humour, demonstrating that editorial cartooning can be different and creative, in spite of prescriptive tradition. And he is just plain funny, blending political with keenly observed, social satire. He has an eye for the absurdity and vanity in the banal details of diction and posture that other cartoonists either don’t notice or find too shallow to mine for commentary. This book collects his best work from more than a decade’s worth of work at the daily newspaper Politiken, including his brilliant 2013 comics inset on Søren Kierkegaard, written and drawn on the occasion of the world-famous Danish philosopher’s bicentenary. In it, he not only provides an ‘Existentialism for Beginners-type intro, but also comments hilariously on recent reception history and attendant controversy, and most poignantly situates Kierkegaard’s relevance to the average life of an average person wanting to be a football coach.

Dansker (’Dane’)
by Halfdan Pisket
Fahrenheit
The third and final volume in Pisket’s poetic and hard-hitting biography of his Armenian-Turkish immigrant father focuses on his slow and always imperfect settlement, not only in Danish society but into his role as father. Here are links to my reviews on this site of the first volume and . Through his David B-esque blank writing and suggestive, symbolist chiaroscuro, Pisket achieves a remarkable feat of hermeneutic empathy in portraying his own young self externally — through the eyes of his traumatised, criminal and in many ways irresponsible father. We come to understand, even sympathise with him, and we sense that the cartoonist himself does too, through the act of writing and drawing it out. While this means that the more ambiguous feelings expressed through his portrayal in the more powerful earlier volumes are somewhat neglected, it is beautifully moving.

Here are my picks for 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013, 2014, and 2015.

The Big 3 at The National Gallery


With the Michelangelo and Sebastiano exhibition closed at National Gallery we are privileged to hold on to Michelangelo’s marble Taddei Tondo from the Royal Academy until the end of January, while they complete the bicentennial refurbishment. This has given us the opportunity to show the sculpture along with a number of paintings from our collection by Leonardo, Michelangelo and Raphael, the three foundational figures of what we have come to know as the High Renaissance.

The display is on in room 20 of the North Galleries, smack dab in the middle of our new display of Dutch and Flemish seventeenth-century paintings, incongruously but necessarily because of logistics. If you’re in London, I encourage you to visit what I think is a compelling display telling the story of the creative and, to a lesser extent, personal interrelations of these three very different giants of art.

If you wish to know more, do check my introduction to the display via Facebook Live.