By Peter Land

The French painter Eduard Manet was once to have said that he found it just as interesting to paint a head of cabbage as painting The Empress Eugenie of France. Most likely, the painter did not have leze majesty in mind. However, the point Manet wished to make was that in his work the what was secondary to the how. An empress and a head of cabbage could from an artistic point of view be of equal interest. This egalitarian perspective was decisive for the development of painting over the next century. It moved away the focus from the image and put it upon the actual painting. All images were of interest if they gave the painter a pretext to explore their formal qualities as purely artistic objects. Ultimately, the result would be pure abstraction.

In that sense, Anne Sofie Meldgaard is a direct descendant from Manet. For Anne Sofie Meldgaard The Empress and the head of cabbage are equally interesting, insofar as they form a pretext for creating paintings. Anne Sofie Meldgaard forces this point to its ultimate consequence by oversimplifying her images using a style which approaches the pictogram. Anne Sofie Meldgaard exhibits a rare, unhierarchical view upon the world in her paintings. With Anne Sofie Meldgaard everything is interpreted through a purely painterly filter. As an observer, I am not at any time allowed to forget that I am looking at a painting. An impastose painting applied with sections of colour. Only then do I realise that the outset for this is an open sandwich with sausage, a bunch of flowers or a construction of Legos. In her work, Anne Sofie Meldgaard exhibits a catching passion for material substance. In her paintings colour does not only serve as a coloring matter; but also as a substance: an impastose mass, which is applied, almost sculpturally, to the canvas. As an observer I am allowed to take part in the painting process and experience the innocent joy when one colour meets another and magic arises.

If Anne Sofie Meldgaard’s paintings on a formal level are lively, almost dramatic, her choices of image are taken from everyday life; children’s toys, open sandwiches and other bits and bobs from the ordinary weekday: No battle scenes or prince portraits! (or empresses to refer to Manet again).

Thus, Anne Sofie Meldgaard places herself at the end of, and develops, a modern painting tradition which began with Manet almost a 130 years ago.