Online presentation | Painters Painting

Launching January 2021

Poul Gernes during the installation of his exhibition at Jysk Kunstgalleri, Copenhagen, Denmark, 1970. Photo: Asger Sessingø


Galleri Nicolai Wallner is pleased to announce an online presentation with significant works by Poul Gernes and Jonathan Monk. Poul Gernes’ Target Painting and Jonathan Monk’s One Minute Painting explore ideas of automation, action and authorship, challenging how we conceive of these values.



Throughout his career, Poul Gernes (1925-1996) was interested in the imagery of coloured dot, working with varying colours and sizes on otherwise monochromatic backgrounds.

This straightforward technique is perhaps most notable in his Target paintings, with which Gernes developed a method of painting targets with a determined form and content which would allow for a random choice of colour.

Solo exhibition, Poul Gernes Retrospective (2013), Deichtorhallen Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany


This systematic way of painting was for Gernes a way of removing any signs of himself, or rather of the artist’s “hand” within the work. For Gernes, this meant that as the artist, he was no longer a kind of middle man who was needed to understand the work. The experience was between the work and the viewer alone, and in this sense was direct and accessible to everyone. This idea alongside Gernes’ insistence on method and replicable technique gave way for others such as his wife, artist Aase Gernes, and their children, to become involved participants in the creation of works.


One man exhibtion at Arkiv för Dekorativ Kunst, Lund, Sweden, 1978. Photo: Poul Gernes



Poul Gernes
Untitled (Target Painting) (1966-1969)
Enamel paint on masonite
122 x 122 x 3.5 cm
48 x 48 x 1.3 in

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Solo exhibition, World Time Clock – Used Cars (2011) Galleri Nicolai Wallner, Copenhagen, Denmark



Jonathan Monk’s One Minute Paintings series is based on the work of British artist John Latham (1921-2006)—a contemporary of Gernes. Using materials such as spray paint, Latham was interested in exploring conceptual and sensory understandings of time, which resulted in works in which time was visualised as a single burst of spray paint on a surface.

Monk’s interpretation playfully expands this concept to a minute, as round, otherwise blank canvases feature sixty bursts of spray paint around the edge like the hands of a clock, each done for a second over the course of a minute. Monk is no stranger to taking inspiration from the cannons of conceptual art, and ideas of what constitutes an original artwork or idea are found throughout his practice.

Documentation of Jonathan Monk performing Yard of Ale (1994) in Glasgow, Scotland



Jonathan Monk
One Minute Painting (Pink, red, blue, yellow) (2011)
Acrylic and spray-paint on canvas
Ø 130 cm
Ø 51.3 in

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The idea of what is more important in a work—the concept or the artist—is at play in both of these paintings.

While Gernes’ position is clear, in an ironic twist, his insistence on creating works which deliberately omitted his presence have become a signature in itself, instantly recognisable as Gernes.

Monk however keeps this question open, deliberately so, challenging how our preconceptions of what and who constitutes an artist forms so much of the basis of how we understand art and its value.


carrie emberlyn