Morten Skrøder Lund - ome | Belmacz

Philip Larkin, in a rare fit of lyricism, wrote a lovely poem called ‘The Trees’. The trees are bursting into leaf / Like something almost being said, it begins. His words come to my mind a lot at this time of year: when winter turns to spring, the weather warms and moistens, the future beckons.

It’s also mentioned in the accompanying notes to this small show, written by art historian Ben Street. (Annoyingly I can’t find them online.) Skrøder Lund’s paintings are left untitled. Each loosely-worked painting seems to be hovering at that precise in-between state, between a bare branch and a leafy branch, or between what’s said and what’s left unsaid.

Installation view

Several of the canvases have ragged, unfinished-looking edges. Some are figurative, some aren’t, some are somewhere inbetween. My favourites were next to each other: a pair of lovely lilac landscapes and a serene red-haired Pre Raphaelite girl, lying on the grass. The show notes reveal that the artist often works his pictures up from discarded photos, taking the forgotten into the present day.

“Marks of the brush, in his paintings, are always almost something,” Street adds. “They are thoughts about things just before they harden into words.” And then turned into a physical object: an (almost) rectangular canvas on the wall of a small, snobby London gallery.

Larkin himself was careful to emphasise the physical presence of his trees, those “unresting castles”, on their way to “fullgrown thickness”. He freighted their strong trunks and wide, lush branches, with the simple human emotion of hope: Last year is gone, they seem to say, / Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.

I found Skrøder Lund’s beautiful paintings similarly hopeful, and similarly moving.

Morten Skrøder Lund: ome is at Belmacz (London). 14 February - 14 April 2018.