Calendar: Sally Kindberg

31 March - 28 April 2023

A calendar by tradition marks and organises the temporal limits of a year in a regular manner. The seasons pass, as if always the same. So it goes with the calendar, but not Sally Kindberg’s Calendar

The theme of Sally Kindberg’s show, Calendar, came to her whilst moving home from south to north of London’s river. The car passed through the Rotherhithe Tunnel, build in 1908 for horse drawn traffic, built with serpentine curves since it was thought the horses would be terrified by the light at the end of a long straight tunnel. The tiled interior vividly reflected and refracted flickers of lights from the vehicles within, to dizzying effect.


This brief journey took on a dreamlike aspect for Kindberg, as if travelling through the inside of a snake, and passing across an irregular measure of time, an idea that lent itself to Calendar. The thirteen (plus one) paintings in this show make a very particular calendar. The inside-out of a snake that’s a tunnel translates to the traversal of a year marked by images that slip and slide, a polymorphous interplay of ever-mobile overlapping references.


A libidinally loaded relation of surface to what’s beneath is a theme in Kindberg’s work that’s prominent in these paintings, drawing as they do on the conflation of a snake and a tunnel. For August a hand presents a transparent silicon breast implant, the hand is distorted through the lens of the breast in an undulating swirl. This transparency transposes to the shiny iridescence of a shirt stretched tightly over a muscular torso in May, and to strange peaks and valleys across a chest in January, and again on a peaked cap for the 13th month of Undecimber (a leftover from the Roman calendar). This iridescence reminds Kindberg of the shifting rainbow patterns on colour-coded weather charts.


A sexual charge is transposed into a mapping of torrid atmosphere. The world of men and animals recurs. In February a man lies in bed, his head rests on the landscape of a deeply creased pillowcase. The painting is oriented on its side as if you’re lying beside him, implicated in the gaze of his yellow reptilian eye. He watches you. His almond eye echoes the shape of his mouth. His face is half covered by the head of his yellow eyed cat. The cat’s erect leg extends across his shoulder, with a pinkish blush at its base. December presents claw-like nails atop pink fingers that cling together like the white hats of ‘star singers’ (Stjärngosse), or the white hoods of clansmen. September offers a meeting of trousered legs with yellow fish for shoes, alongside a woman in patent black heals and animal print dress. The clear blank eye of one fish-shoe looks up towards the ankles of the tiger clad woman. The strangeness of sexuality as such is marked in these signifying muddles of animal and human. November marks the encounter of an upstanding ‘cobra’ phone, with an ear-like head, with a drooping candle, tipped by a brittle flat translucent yellow flame. The incongruent registers of voice and gaze meet in this libidinous encounter.


Kindberg’s Calendar is painted with a lively variety in method, photorealism slides into highly stylised forms. Whilst Kindberg’s designs are carefully composed, her handling of paint nonetheless give a fresh immediacy arrived at between the needs of the design and the process of making. The immutable sense of regularity which once seemed to guarantee the real no longer holds so well, and Kindberg’s irreal Calendar vividly reflects the irregularity of the dizzying time through which we live, offering nonetheless an out of kilter consistency all its own.


— Alasdair Duncan