Cathrine Raben Davidsen, Let Everything Happen to You (2024) Installation view Copenhagen Contemporary (2024) Photo: David Stjernholm
Cathrine Raben Davidsen
Let Everything Happen to You
Let Everything Happen to You is the most comprehensive retrospective exhibition of Raben Davidsen’s art to date. In Hall 3, more than 130 paintings and drawings show new sides of the Danish artist Cathrine Raben Davidsen’s (b. 1972) distinctive and impactful work.
Spanning the artist’s three most important periods – the mid-1990s (1995-1998), the 2010s (2015-2017) and the present – the exhibition reveals a less familiar, more personally rooted side of Raben Davidsen’s work, shaped by experiences of loss, the search for identity and transformation.
Known for her poetic, dream-like, vibrant visual language, Raben Davidsen, in a nearly 30-year career, has developed a singular expression moving between myth and history, light and darkness, reality and fantasy across time, space and stylistic genres. Let Everything Happen to You combines raw, atmospheric drawings, in charcoal, oil and ink, with lavishly layered oil paintings large and small. The subject matter ranges from intimate portraits (including two self-portraits) to abstract landscapes, mythological and religious narratives and figures transforming from one state to another. At the heart of her work is the artistic treatment of humanity and personal experience.
For the first time ever, visitors can experience some of Raben Davidsen’s earliest works, including her 1996 series Family. Executed in a raw, psychological style, the series portrays her family, childhood and teenage years, including the loss of her father to AIDS when she was 13. Over the course of the 2010s, Raben Davidsen shifts her focus from personal explorations to more universal questions of human existence and connection, along with the concept of metamorphosis. The exhibition title is a line from a 1905 poem, Go to the Limits of Your Longing, by the Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke. The poem describes the unbearable but ultimately inescapable combination of beauty and suffering at the heart of human life and history.
The exhibition presents a number of new paintings made especially for the exhibition at CC. Based on topical news images from war zones around the world, the paintings with tremendous sensitivity depict ruined landscapes and bodies disfigured by war.
A leading figure in her generation of Danish artists, Raben Davidsen has developed a singular artistic language clearly grounded in the classical tradition. Throughout her career, she has marched to the beat of her own drum. Her work has been collected by world stars like Bruce Springsteen, Liv Tyler and Sofia Coppola.
This exhibition is the first comprehensive presentation of Raben Davidsen’s paintings at a Copenhagen institution in more than a decade. Featured is also a recently produced film portrait providing an up-close and personal look at the artist and the process behind her work.
In 2022, Cathrine Raben Davidsen was the first ever recipient of the Beckett Prize, established and awarded at CC that year.
About Cathrine Raben Davidsen
Cathrine Raben Davidsen (b. 1972, Copenhagen) is a graduate of the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, and previously studied at art academies in Italy and the Netherlands. Raben Davidsen has exhibited widely in Denmark and abroad. She has executed major commissions, and her work is in the collections of many museums and institutions. Throughout her career, she has won numerous awards and honorary grants. In 2015, she was appointed Knight of the Order of Dannebrog by Her Majesty Queen Margrethe.