NEGATIVES – Michael Kirkham

from Thursday 3 September till 10 October 2020

Nederland Unlocked: Expositiestuk 34. Nederland Unlocked: Expositiestuk 34


Interview Michael Kirkham for The Highlighting Skin. De Ketelfactory 2020.


Gerhard Hofland proudly presents NEGATIVES, a new exhibition by Michael Kirkham. As the title suggests, the exhibition will contain paintings of negatives, including a series of works on paper.

An important aspect of Kirkham’s work is the use of light, yet the source of it differs in every work. Light is also visible in the negative paintings; where we expect shadow, we are greeted with light and where we expect light, a shadow appears. The source appears to come from inside the painting and for that reason the light seems to have a more powerful and stronger impact than a source from outside the painting would have. The playfulness in which Kirkham uses that to highlight the intimate areas of the body and hides the otherwise obvious areas, makes the negatives really intriguing.

Often highly regarded for their uncompromising nature, Michael Kirkham’s paintings give a delicate insight into the dark corners of human existence. Painted mostly from the mind, mixing fantasy and reality, Kirkham depicts his subjects in uncomfortable or awkward positions, (half) undressed, engaging in acts of sexual nature, being in love, daydreaming, or showing their genitals. While doing so, the characters in Kirkham’s paintings often appear distant, as if disconnected or sunken into the emptiness of their subconsciousness. In addition to the apathetic character of his subjects, most of Kirkham’s paintings appear covered in an apt layer of misery and ambiguity.

As much as these scenes of the despicable bring about a sense of discomfort or voyeurism to the spectator, they are equally intriguing and touching as they display a deep sense of empathy for all aspects of the human condition. This is Kirkham’s power: rather than depicting scenes that exist only in Kirkham’s own artistic universe, his works show those parts of life that, no matter our attempts to disregard or overlook them, are a core part of contemporary life. They show us the alienated or estranged individuals who are no match for the complexities of the world they themselves have helped to build.

It is in this commentary on the contemporary that any sense of melancholy, irony, or even voyeurism so often related to the Kirkham’s paintings disappears. The power and beauty of his work is inseparable from the discomfort it brings about when it confronts the viewer with the bleakness of humanity. Therefore, any form of sadness, irony, voyeurism, or discomfort felt in Kirkham’s paintings can only be a sign of confrontation, recognition or even emotion of the spectator, pointing out to us what essentially makes us human throughout the complexities of today.

Michael Kirkham (Blackpool, UK, 1971) lives and works in Berlin, Germany. He completed his education at the Glasgow School of Art and De Ateliers, Amsterdam. His work has been exhibited, among many other locations, at Gemeentemuseum, The Hague (NL), Centraal Museum, Utrecht (NL), and Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf (DE), and is part of collections such as the Gemeentemuseum, The Hague (NL),  Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam (NL), Centraal Museum, Utrecht (NL), Sammlung Ritter Sport, Stuttgart (DE), Collection Olbricht (DE), Collection SØR Rusche, De Nederlandsche Bank, Amsterdam (NL), and of private collections in The Netherlands, Germany and the United States, among others.

Biography - Michael Kirkham

Michael Kirkham, Black Cat, 2020, oil on canvas, 150 x 160 cm.

Michael Kirkham, Untitled, 2015, oil on canvas, 160 x 220 cm.

Michael Kirkham, Black Cat, 2020, oil on canvas, 150 x 160 cm.

Michael Kirkham, Untitled, 2015, oil on canvas, 160 x 220 cm.


CV Michael Kirkham

Born 1971 in Blackpool, England
Lives and works in Berlin, Germany

Selected Solo/Duo Exhibitions

Highlighting Skin, with Ina van Zyl, De Ketelfactory, Schiedam (NL)

Hand in Glove, U124 project space, Berlin (DE)
Viel Feind, Viel Ehr, Peninsula Art Space, New York (USA)
Wundersame Welten, Galerie Michael Haas, Berlin (DE)

Viennacontemporary, Vienna (AT), rep. by Gerhard Hofland Gallery, Amsterdam (NL)
Rise and Shine, Saturnine, Gerhard Hofland Gallery, Amsterdam (NL)

Ekstatisches Einsamkeit, with Julius Hofmann, Galerie Kleindienst, Leipzig (D)
Small Erotics & Still Lives, Coridor, Reykyavik (IC)

Yield to the Night, Gerhard Hofland Gallery, Amsterdam (NL)

The Indolent, Galerie Michael Haas, Berlin (D)
Invited / Herbstundgang, with Koen Delaere, Spinnerei, Leipzig (D)

Intercourse, with Jukka Korkeila, Nortällje Konsthall, Nortällje (SW)

New Paintings, Gerhard Hofland Gallery, Amsterdam (NL)
The Ox and the Ass, with Jukka Korkeila, Galerie 21, Malmö (SW)

Art Brussels, Brussels (B), rep. by Gerhard Hofland Gallery, Amsterdam (NL)

Hotel Grande Abyss, Aschenbach & Hofland Galleries, Amsterdam (NL)
Paintings, Private Project space, Galerie Hammelehle und Ahrens, Cologne (D)

New Paintings, Aschenbach & Hofland Galleries, Amsterdam (NL)
Michael Kirkham, Haags Gemeentemuseum, The Hague (NL)

Ecstasis, Galerie Jan Wentrup, Berlin (D)
Open Space, Art Cologne, Cologne (D)

Final Presentation, European Ceramic Work Centre, Den Bosch (NL)
New Paintings and Ceramics, Aschenbach & Hofland Galleries, Amsterdam (NL)

The Neurasthenics, Drawings & Paintings, Hein Elferink, Staphorst (NL)

When Power Streamed, Gallery Sabine Wachters, Brussels (B)

Paintings, Aschenbach & Hofland Galleries, Amsterdam (NL)

Recent Paintings, Gallery Sabine Wachters, Brussels (B)

Drawings and Paintings, De Nederlandsche Bank, Amsterdam (NL)
Reflexive Figurations, Galerie Ferdinand van Dieten – d’Eendt, Amsterdam (NL)

Art Brussels, Brussels (B), rep. by Gallery Sabine Wachters, Brussels (B)

Lightning 3, De Beyerd, Breda (NL)
First Exhibition, Gallery Sabine Wachters, Brussels (B)

Selected Group Exhibitions

Yes We’re Open, Gerhard Hofland Gallery, Amsterdam (NL)
Freigänger/Open Prison, Lichterfelde Berlin (DE)
I Like It Real, Schau Fenster Raum für Kunst, Berlin (DE)
In Situ, Kultursommer Mittelhessen, Giessen (DE)

Art Rotterdam, Rotterdam (NL), rep. by Gerhard Hofland Gallery, Amsterdam (NL)

PARALLELWELT, nationalmuseum, Berlin (DE)
Blush, Rosa-Luxemburg-Strasse 22, Berlin (DE)

Amsterdam Art Fair, Amsterdam (NL), rep. by Gerhard Hofland Gallery, Amsterdam (NL)
Your Light is My Darkness (Part III), Gerhard Hofland Gallery Amsterdam (NL)
VOLTA12, Basel (CH), rep. by Gerhard Hofland Gallery, Amsterdam (NL)
Your Light is My Darkness (Part II), Fienkunst Krüger, Hamburg (D)
Art Rotterdam, Rotterdam (NL), rep. by Gerhard Hofland Gallery, Amsterdam (NL)

Your Light is My Darkness (Part I), Surgo Studio, Berlin (D)
Still Leben 3, Galerie Michael Haas, Berlin (D)
Roxxie, Nationalmuseum, Berlin (D)
Spiegel im Spiegel, Psychiatrische Centrum, Bruges (B)
Ontbloot, Haags Gemeentemuseum, The Hague (NL)
Galerie Accrochage, Gerhard Hofland Gallery, Amsterdam (NL)

Bitter Süsse Zeiten, Kunsthause Städe, Städe (D)
Die Hallucinierte Welt: Malerie am Rand Der Wirklichtkeit, Haus am Lutzöwplatz, Berlin (D)

For the Sake of Paint 2, Galerie Witteveen, Amsterdam (NL)

Eros und Thanatos, Collection Rusche, Spinnerei, Leipzig (D)
Dog Days of Entropy, Nationalmuseum, Berlin (D)

Love and Cruelty, Gerhard Hofland Gallery, Amsterdam (NL), with Thom Puckey, Johan Tahon
The Raising of Lazarus, Nationalmuseum, Berlin (D)
Memoires du Futur, Collection Olbricht, La Maison Rouge, Paris (FR)
Zwei Sammler (Sammlung Olbricht/Falkenberg), Deichtorhallen, Hamburg (D)
Fear? Fear!, Konstlaboratorium, Vestfossen (N)
The Unutterable, Gerhard Hofland Gallery, Amsterdam (NL), with Jukka Korkeila, Wouter van Riessen

A Drawback, Aterlierhof Kreuzberg, Berlin (D)
Lebenslust und Tötentanz, Collection Olbricht, Kunsthalle Krems, Krems (AUS)
Paranoia, De Cacaofabriek NL, Helmond (NL)
Hostile Aesthetik Takeover, The Appartement, Berlin (D)

Table Dancing, The Forgotten Bar, Berlin (D)
Öffentliche Errgung / Indecent Exposure, Loop – Raum für Aktuelle Kunst, Berlin (D)

Nationalmuseum, Berlin (D), six group shows in different locations, Berlin (D)
Diana + Actaeon, Die Verbotene Blick auf die Nacktheit, Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf (D)
Mask of Medusa, KFA Gallery, Berlin (D)
In Between, Leids Universitair Medisch Centrum, Leiden (NL)
Lanzarote, Keith Talent Gallery, London (UK)
Cobra To Contemporary, A Selection of works from Eclectic Contemporary, The Collection of Hugo and Carla Brown, Artnews Projects, Berlin (D)

Unsere Affekte Fliegen aus den Bereich der Menschlichen Wirklichkeit heraus, Galerie Sandra Bürgel, Berlin (D)
The Full Nelson, West Germany, Berlin (D)
Songs of Innocence and Aggression, National Gallery Of Macedonia, Skopje (MAC)
Verzameld: Een Keuze uit eigen collectie 1986-2007, Galerie LUMC, Leiden (NL)
20 jaar Galerie Ferdinand van Dieten – d’Eendt, Galerie Ferdinand van Dieten – d’Eendt, Amsterdam (NL)

Replacing Mashkov, Haags Gemeentemuseum, The Hague (NL)
Aanwinsten 2005: een keuze, De Nederlandsche Bank, Amsterdam (NL)
What’s new?, Aanwinsten Hedendaagse Kunst, Museum voor Moderne Kunst Arnhem, Arnhem (NL)
Marnix Goossens, Michael Kirkham en Francis Marshall, De Kring, Amsterdam (NL), with Marnix Goossens, Francis Marshall
Art Cologne, Cologne (D), rep. by Aschenbach & Hofland Galleries, Amsterdam (NL)

Im sofortigen engestandnis falches gedanken und taten liegt unsere wachsende unabhangingkeit, Galerie Antik, Berlin (D)

Wet Paint, Galerie Fons Welters, Amsterdam (NL)
Prix de Nouvelle Images, Nouvelle Images, The Hague (NL)

Major Art Fair Amsterdam, Amsterdam (NL), rep. by Galerie Ferdinand van Dieten – d’Eendt, Amsterdam (NL)
Desire, Museum of Modern Art, Bologna (IT)

Urgences de Figuration, Centre Cultural Francais, Turin (IT)
Desire, Ursula Blickle Stifftung, Kraichtal (D)
10 x Dutch Art, Centre for Contemporary Art, St. Petersburg (RUS)

KunstRai, Amsterdam (NL), rep. by Galerie Ferdinand van Dieten – d’Eendt, Amsterdam (NL)

Arte Fiera Bologna, Bologna (IT), rep. by Gallery Sabine Wachters, Brussels (B)
FIAC Paris, Paris (FR), rep. by Gallery Sabine Wachters, Brussels (B)

Morning Glory, De Ateliers, Amsterdam (NL)
FIAC Paris, Paris (FR), rep. by Gallery Sabine Wachters, Brussels (B)

Pump up the Cherry, Galerie Cokkie Snoei, Rotterdam (NL)

Unbuilding, Gallery 99, Glasgow (SC)
East 94, Norwich Gallery, Norwich (UK)


1988 Blackpool and the Fylde College, Blackpool (UK)
1990 Glasgow School of Art, Glasgow (SC)
1994 De Ateliers, Amsterdam (NL)


2005 European Ceramic Work Centre, Den Bosch (NL)

Awards / Stipends / Grants

1994 De Ateliers, Amsterdam (NL)


2015 Roxxie, MKK Verlag, Berlin (D)
2014 Hinter dem Vorhang, Detlef Kuhlbrodt, ed.
2013 Bildgewitter, Erzgeburtstag Thomas Rusche
2010 Lebenlust & Totentanz, Olbricht Collection, Catalogue
Nieuw Realisme, collection of form Scheringa Museum for Realism, catalogue
De intens verveelde gewone mens, Manon Brat in Kunstbeeld (March)
2009 Amorality Play, Catherine Somze in Zoo Magazine (23)
2008 Der Verbotene Blick auf die Nackheit, Diana & Actaeon, catalogue
2008 Geraffineerd spel met rollen, Kees Keijer in Het Parool (March 8)
2008 The Story of Black Glove in Gringo Magazine
2007 Leve de Schilderkunst, Kunsthal Rotterdam (NL), catalogue
2007 Michael Kirkham, Haags Gemeentemuseum, The Hague (NL), catalogue
2007 Animating Light on the Work of MK, Ernst van Alphen, Haags Gemeentemuseum, The Hague (NL), catalogue
2007 Beeld van het lege levensgevoel, Rutger Pontzen in De Volkskrant (August 7)
2007 Dode Zielen op vieze matras in kaal landschap, Erik Quint in Algemeen Dagblad (July 27)
2007 Seks en bandeloosheid uit verveling, Manon Braat in NRC Handelsblad (August 5)
2007 Achter die Verveelde Blik, Edo Dijksterhuis in Financieel Dagblad (July 21)
2007 Erotic Redemption, Rogier Ormeling in De Groene Amsterdammer (September 10)
2006 Ecstasis Engländers, Jan Wentrup and Corinna Daniels in Die Welt (January 27)
2005 SOLO, Kwak, Van Daalen en Ronday Printers, Zaandam, catalogue
2003 The Neurasthenics (Preparatory Drawings), Hein Elferink, Staphort (NL), catalogue
2002 Michael Kirkham’s werk is verraderlijk knap gemaakt, Kees Keijer in Het Parool (December)
2000 Reflexive Figurations, Galerie Ferdinand van Dieten – d’Eendt, catalogue
2000 Reflexive Figurations, Hans den Hartog Jager in NRC Handelsblad (April 7)
2000 Pinocchio’s Liefje, Els Fiers in Knack Magazine
2000 Realism Pictural, Claude Lorent in La Libre Belgique
2000 Moins de Trente Ans, Stephane Rey in L’Echo de la Bourse
2000 Beter dan Barbie, Jan Florizoone in De Standaard
1998 Trois Jeunes Artistes, Guy Gilsoul in Le Vif L’Express
1998 Die Pariser Kunstmesse Fiac, Haar Uberm Sofarand, Kölner Stadt Anzeiger
1997 Lightning 3, Ernst van Alphen in De Beyerd Breda

Public Collections

Collection Olbricht, Essen/Berlin (D)
Collection SOER Rusche, Oelde (B)
Centraal Museum, Utrecht (NL)
Haags Gemeentemuseum, The Hague (NL)
Akzo Nobel Art Foundation, Arnhem (NL)
Museum voor Moderne Kunst Arnhem, Arnhem (NL)
De Nederlandsche Bank, Amsterdam (NL)
Museum for Realism (former Scheringa Collection) (NL)
Sammlung Ritter Sport, Stuttgart (D)
Several private collections in Holland, Belgium, France, Israël, Germany, Scotland, USA