Inger Marie Hahn Møller

Introduction: Andreas Eriksson


The daily walk in the forest, a view out of the window, the play between light and shadow, which because of a passing car is reflected back into the living room, and birds colliding with the studio window – small everyday, but somehow skewed, events make up the foundation for the work of Swedish artist Andreas Eriksson. In the quiet, played down and poetical works, there are no sudden movements, rather a soft keynote that envelops the entire production. However Eriksson’s work is in no way limited – quite the contrary, it incorporates multiple media, expressions and thematics, but with an overall consistency, which balances the work and makes it concise. Whether Eriksson works with sculpture, painting or photography, his works are hereby softened by this consistent poetic keynote.


Andreas Eriksson (b. 1975) has since 2000 lived near Hallekis in Sweden. It is the close surroundings and nature, together with the relation to the world outside, which make up his motifs. Hereby Eriksson draws upon inspiration from the romantic, Nordic tradition, even though his work is far removed from the classical landscape painting. Eriksson’s approach toward nature is rather twisted, and directs its attention toward small, marginal details or events, which we in our habitual way of seeing and perceiving nature/the world often do not notice: Molehills, a bird dropping on the windowpane, two parallel branches, piles of snow on a row. With a finely tuned sensibility the artist registers these impressions and allow them to take part in the work, which often is made up of series. The serial is for Eriksson closely connected to a range of formal investigations, and it is in many ways a fundamental interest in painting and its artistic effects, which is the foundation of Eriksson’s approach to art. In a peculiar sense Eriksson’s work is both conceptual and painterly, even though there is an immanent contrast between these terms historically. The colour, the brushstrokes, the surface of the work and the effect of the paint – the tiny nuances and the minute details are by Eriksson dealt with great care and sensibility. The works are painterly in their entire expression, but at the same time they are also conceptual meta-reflections about painting itself. Questions of what a painting really is, and how it gains its meaning – formally, technically, conceptually, symbolically – hereby are embedded in Eriksson’s works and are generated onto the spectator.


The content in Eriksson’s work is often characterized by joining both the formal, the conceptual and the thematic – which effects the overall sense of conciseness and consistent study. For instance “the ephemeral” seems to saturate the entire work: Shadow, light, snow, molehills, dead birds, reflections in windowpanes, tufts of grass and withered bushes are all recurring elements in Eriksson’s work and indicate the ephemeral both on a formal and a metaphoric level. Concerning the ephemeral the artist himself says: ‘I experience the painting as a picture of a moment in time, a sort of optical being which has to be accepted as a space in itself before we can step into this spaciousness, the birds [Content is a Glimpse] have made the mistake of believing in an illusion (mirroring) and have paid with their lives.’


At the group show Real Inside – Unreal Outside at Galleri Susanne Ottesen in 2007, Eriksson contributed with a wall installation, where photography, oil painting and airbrush were combined, and where the momentary and the ephemeral were the thematic elements. At first glance, the largest work on the wall, the shadow painting, Bil passerar 22.10 den 12.08.07, appears as a big monochrome, black surface, but once you engage yourself in the work and give it time, something is revealed from within the darkness. The title refers to a moment – 10.10 PM, August 12th, 2007 – where the reflections of a passing car have pierced the darkness in the artist’s living room. Eriksson has captured this microscopic moment and the outline of his person against the window in a quiet and dark universe of soft grey tones. The work has been painted with airbrush using a special paint and subsequently painted over by a car painter, who has finished the entire surface in monochrome black. Because of the special properties of the airbrush paint, it transcends the monochrome black surface of the car paint. Hereby the shadow painting quietly reveals itself, almost as a blurred Polaroid, barely visible and only as ephemeral shadow: ‘My interest in shadows has to do with my fascination with things that are ephemeral. That appear and disappear and just leave traces in one’s memories and emotions,’ says the artist. Side by side with the shadow painting in the wall installation, is a small oil painting where the paint, as opposed to the shadow painting’s smooth surface, has been applied with large visible brushstrokes in multiple tactile layers. With its brown/yellow colour the painting becomes substantial and material in contrast to the immateriality of the shadow painting. The photographs, which are placed in between the two paintings, join the light and the heavy with the lightness of the snow covered whiteness and the weight of the Nordic nature. Where the shadow painting is a picture of the surrounding world being projected into the home of the artist, the photographs should rather been seen as internal projections onto the landscape outside. The photographs become, in the same way as classical landscape painting, images of an internal sense of being, and the quiet snow covered Swedish forest landscape express, in this view, a feeling of meditative, slightly melancholic, deep Nordic quietness and calm.


Closely connected with shadow is of course light, and light plays a central role in Eriksson’s paintings too, often as a diminutive marker of a shift in mood, atmosphere and intensity. For instance in the window paintings from the exhibition High, Low & in Between in 2010, where light, shadow and reflections are extremely fine components which decide the very special expression of each work: A shadow on the sky, which changes the entire expression, a tiny splotch on the windowpane, a view through a half open window, where a small change of perspective distorts the view and the entire motif. It is in no way a dramatic setting of light that interests the artist – rather he looks toward a played down, unspectacular and extremely delicate play of light. Also in the sculptural works, light plays a big part, amongst others in the work Peripeti from 2006, where a gathering of various sources of light – flashlights, candelabra and candlesticks – are transformed to ceramic sculptures. The light sources become dysfunctional because of the transformation into another material, but exactly because of this process they direct attention to themselves, whereby the spectator is forced to reflect upon light both concretely and metaphorically. The transformation of something readymade-like into another material is a recurring element in Eriksson’s sculptural works – amongst others in the series Content is a Glimpse and Sorkhöger, respectively, bronze casts of birds that have collided with his studio window, and bronze casts of molehills found near his house. The molehills play with sculpture in the classical sense and become in extension of art historian Rosalind Krauss’ famous essay a sort of “sculptures in an expanded field”: The plinths are eliminated and the molehills extends out over the gallery floor. Out into space and down to earth – almost down into the earth, since the material of the molehills also refers to the mother substance of sculpture itself, earth and clay. This low and substantial element of the molehills almost undermines the defined and elevated body of classical bronze sculpture. The sculptural works place themselves somewhere in between matter and impression: The original random character of the molehills and the dead bodies of the birds are maintained, but at the same time transformed and changed because of the artist’s intervention and the placement in the institutional setting of the gallery space. About the transformation of the dead birds, the artist says: ‘I have attempted to create a “happy ending” through making casts of the birds and leaving the cast channels, so that the birds sit in their new incarnation on something akin to branches. For a brief moment in time the birds believed in the illusive reflection of the window, and now they are cast in bronze in a metamorphosis with the casting channels that – just like the molehills correspond to subterranean channels and dirt – point to a sort of sculptural “zero point” – the very beginning of sculpture itself – and now in a strange backwards way yet again have become “nature” or branching.’


The ephemeral, the illusion and the ambiguous all mark an openness, which encourages the spectator reflectively to take part, sense and experience the events and themes that the artist quietly points toward. Furthermore, the white snow in the works can be compared to the idea of the white canvas and the openness of the work: ‘With my painting I often feel that in the end I want to come back to this openness of the white canvas and just offer a file for projections to the onlooker… You end up with a situation where at the same time you know and forget that both paintings and photographs are illusions. You may enter their world and use it as a ground for your own projections.’


Andreas Eriksson has exhibited internationally at Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig in Vienna in 2008, Momentum in Moss in 2009, and Moderna Museet in Stockholm in 2010 to name a few. In 2007 Andreas Eriksson received the Baloise Art prize for his contribution to Art Statements in Basel, and in 2011 he has had a solo exhibition at the Nordic pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2011.


Inger Marie Hahn Møller, MA in Art History