Esto es malo –
this is bad

June 9 2020 – January 10 2021

The exhibition focuses on one of the central works of the museum collection, Richard Mortensen’s painting Esto es malo (This is bad). The work was created in 1959 as a paraphrase of the Spanish artist Francisco Goya’s etching of the same name, from his series The Disasters of War (1810-20).

But why did Mortensen choose to elaborate on that very motif? What is the relationship between the wars of Goya’s and Mortensen’s times? And in what sense does Mortensen’s abstract and geometrical style contribute to the war theme? Is it possible that the abstract mode of expression can add to the motif something that cannot be expressed figuratively?

In the exhibition, the war theme unfolds in the force field between abstraction and figuration as well as between form and content. At the same time, the themes are perspectivized through works by other artists, both Mortensen’s contemporaries and contemporary artists.

The exhibition project is part of a series in which we, together with researchers, investigate and unfold one of the main works from our collection. This exhibition and research project is created in cooperation with art historian Mette Højsgaard, ph.d. In each of the units of the series, we present and actualize a main work or movement from the museum collection, using recent art historical research as our starting point. The project concludes Højsgaard’s three-year post doc scholarship on the social potential of art in post-war Danish art and its ideological heirs in contemporary art. With a grant from The New Carlsberg Foundation we have carried out the research in a partnership between Esbjerg Art Museum and the University of Copenhagen.