It can be hard to see the forest for the trees. In the exhibition Stepmother Nature Søren Behncke examines our current relationship with nature. Through paintings, sculptures, drawings and installation, he honestly and humorously surveys the affair between culture and nature. Entering the gallery you are greeted by a forest, a set piece forest created in cardboard. Through the forest one can catch a glimpse of a large painting titled Hit Hot Hood, a Robin Hood like figure has brought down, with bow and arrow, all the cartoon inhabitants of the forest. Dumbo, Woody Woodpecker and other familiar animal faces lie scattered, perforated by arrows and lifeless in the woods.
In the paraphrase Les Animaux d’Avignon Picasso’s prostitutes has been substituted by Yogi Bear, Winnie The Pooh, Donald Duck and other comic characters, the rent-animals do not look happy on the forest floor. Behncke questions how we really treat nature, while we are romanticizing it culturally. He quotes the Danish poet Per Højholt’s book The Innocence of Nature that flattering asserts that nature is innocent contrary to man. Nature is alluring, a place to get lost, find refuge, or even a place to find yourself. Behncke’s nature outing is not quite so simple. In the paraphrase painting The Luncheon on the Grass after Manet the chimpanzee has lost it’s innocence and the lunch consist of fruit-boxes from around the world.
Behncke ascertains and problematizes. There is no green finger wagging in Stepmother Nature. In a surreal mix of familiar art historical tableaus, carton pastiche, pop cultural references, consumer icons and in an expressionistic figurative style, Behncke engages the viewer in the continuous debate about the nature of our relation with nature.
Søren Behncke (B.1967, Danish) has recently exhibited at Esbjerg Museum of Art (Denmark), The Hole Gallery, New York (USA), Viborg Museum of Art (Denmark) and KØS – Museum of art in public spaces (Denmark). Behncke also works under the pseudonyms Papfar (cardboard dad) and Posemanden (bag man) with temporary interventions in public space. Later this year he will participate in the exhibition MUR HÆK HEGN (Wall, Hedge, Fence) at KØS museum and the triennial Nordic Art Station at Eskilstuna Art Museum (Sweden).
Stepmother Nature is Søren Behncke’s fourth solo exhibition with V1 Gallery.