Tomas Leth

Born 1981 in Denmark
Lives and works in Copenhagen

Danish artist Tomas Leth’s works combine delicacy and earthiness, surface and psychology. Working primarily in oil pastels, his pieces are replete with earthy reds, royal blues, and vermillion yellows. His wrought drawings use petal-like mark making to create dappled and evocative, non-objective tableau.

Speaking about his work, he describes his process as lengthy and intuitive - working on motifs in layers over several months until he finds a clear image which balances chaos and surprise in equal measures. Much like rust oxidising, or spores germinating, Leth’s work retains a sense of movement and organic patterning: blooming, mutable, and intricately etched, they read as biologically informed, taking on a prehistoric grandeur. Present too is an emphasis on texture, tactility, and an oscillation between depth and surface, informed by the artist’s time working with sculpture.

Quietly philosophical, at the heart of Leth’s work is a faith in alternate ways of seeing, and a quiet cynicism about effects of a contemporary image economy on the psyche. His canvases are bound with a desire to explore a mind-body dualism, and seek more authentic, anti-pictorial ways of encountering the world. Much like the metaphysical poets, and later, the post structuralist philosophers, Leth is particularly interested in the ways we encounter, negotiate, and perceive reality, taking renewed interest in mediaeval and mystical ways of seeing over contemporary, modern vision. His work is the result of an active and ongoing project that seeks to ‘tear holes’ in perception, taking advantage of gaps, slippages and flux to make room for the unknown. He feels his way towards motifs that renegotiate space.

The artist gains imaginative inspiration from the Impressionists, and in particular the impressionist ‘eye’: their interest in the passage of time, their mutable canvases, and their fondness for soft, radiant lightscapes. Shoring darkness and rejuvenation against one another, Leth’s works create sublime, intricate, nebulous drawings.

Recent solo exhibitions include: 'The Suns of Half Sleep', Matthew Brown, Los Angeles, USA (2023), 'Ekstatisk pollen', Paulina Caspari, Munich, Germany (2023), 'Orfila', ADZ, Lisbon, Portugal (2022).

Recent group exhibitions include: 'In the Shadow', White Cube (2023), 'Doll-Soul', ADZ gallery, Lisbon, Portugal (2023), Fragments, ADZ, Lisbon, Portugal (2021), Degree Show, The Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen, Denmark (2021), Galleri Tom Christoffersen, Copenhagen, Denmark (2020), Arcways Nightland Connector, Copenhagen, Denmark (2019), Galleri Tom Christoffersen, Copenhagen, Denmark (2018).

Forthcoming: Solo exhibition, ADZ Gallery Lisbon, Portugal (2024).