Not Random Art - Page 71

Hello Mattias and welcome to NotRandomArt. The current issue of our magazine is revolving around the problem of identity. Is there any particular way you would describe your identity as an artist but also as a human being in dynamically changing, unstable times? In particular, does your cultural substratum/identity form your aesthetics?

Thank you for inviting me to participate in your magazine! 

As an artist I think I am influenced by what’s missing in the culture I live in. I’m interested in change or keeping a clear open mind as a human being. To search for this kind of individual freedom of identity is connected with being an artist. I haven’t thought about it before but the darkness, abysses and portals could all be seen as an escape or a way to find a way where the language is not enough.

Would you like to tell us something about your background? Could you talk a little about experiences that has influence the way you currently relate yourself to your artworks?

My first solo exhibition was in Skellefteå 1998 and after that I have lived in different cities in Sweden. At the moment I’m living and working in Stockholm.

I worked with photography and video installation for many years and was also a leader of a school of photography in Sweden. I stopped teaching and tutoring students in about the same time as I found my way back to painting. When I saw artists like for example Cindy Sherman, Hannah Wilke and Andres Serrano in the early 90:s it was something completely in line with my own development. Ever since I was a child I had been drawing and with photography came new opportunities and other ways of communicate the subject matter that I related to, constructions of identity, family and personal narrative. I came to a point where it didn’t feel interesting anymore. During those years working with photography I couldn’t make drawings or paint. After a ten-year break from drawing and painting I discovered that I had mounted a large paper on the wall in my studio. I began to make drawings of large black holes. I began to express myself with painting, but photography took over my life. Now I feel that I come full circle to painting inspired by nature.

Could you identify a specific artwork that has influenced your artistic practice or has impacted the way you think about race and ethnic identity in visual culture?

I’m not influenced by any specific artwork. At the moment I’m for the most part interested in contemporary painting when I visit exhibitions. The last years I have read a lot about space, for example physics and string theory. Music is also important, when I work I listen to repetitive and almost chanting music. I think you have to be open minded and including as a person to be an artist, at least to be an interesting one. 

The non narrative expression of your works is very powerful. Could you tell us more about the aesthetics of your works and both its consequences and meaning for the effect you achieve?

Thank you, it’s nice that you noticed because the non-narrative is something I thought a lot of about. A Swedish artist named Fred Salmson said his paintings began in an action with consequences he could not predict. It is exactly like that for me, I need to get lost when I begin a painting. I have noticed that drawing dramatically absolves time and space, where one or two hours often feels like fifteen minutes. The notion of then and now becomes one during the meditative drawing process. In a way somewhat alike when was walking in my sleep. The experience of the state in between awake and sleep is very strange. The sleepwalking often occurred when I had been drawing intensely during the day.

I work in layers, the whole time in an embrace of uncertainty. The mistakes are crucial for the process. I want the work to feel almost like it made it self and I remove work that becomes to beautiful or soft because I like the energy from a harder expression, as dark as possible.

How much do you consider the immersive nature of the viewing experience? How important is for you the feedback from the receivers of your artworks? Can your works be seen as an invitation to discover some secret rooms and the dark side of the human mind? Do you feel like your artworks can communicate the ideas on the unconscious level during the viewers’ experience?

That’s an interesting view of my work, an invitation to discover secret rooms and the dark side of the human mind. In the dark is the unknown, everything we are afraid of and still holds all possibilities. It’s relatively new works and some still in progress, Mörkt oljud/ Black noise hasn’t been exhibited as a complete work yet.

very beginnings of inspiration for a new painting is to look for a pose. I will often troll through images of Avant Garde fashion photography, ballet, dance, naked portraiture and/or body-scapes to find just the right one. Once I have the pose that strikes me (YES!) I take it from there, drawing up a

rough sketch adding patterns and geometrical shapes which contrast the lines of the main silhouette.

From there I sketch my plan on to a blank canvas (always making changes and additions to the new layout). Once I am happy with that I start to add colour. My fine lines are all executed without masking; using a small brush, even hand, and steadfast concentration. Then I apply layer upon layer of colour until I achieve beautiful unyielding saturation and impeccable print-like quality.

How do you see the relationship between emotional and intellectual perception of your work? In particular, how much do you consider the immersive nature of the viewing experience?

The emotional and intellectual relationship of my work always begin as two very seperate things. At first glance, my art may seem frivolously aesthetic .The colours are vibrant, and deliciously arresting. But then you look a little closer, even through the simplicity of the block colour and basic lines of geometry and pattern, there is always a story within… and that is when the emotional and intellectual perception of my art merge and the true beauty is discovered.

olted by the Thought of Known Places… Sweeney Astray” by Joan Jonas was one of the first performance installations that really made a huge impact on me. I was living in Paris during this time, in the early 90s, with a lot of influences from different cultures. It became the starting point of my own work. Joan Jonas practice has explored ways of seeing, the rhythms of ritual, and the authority of objects and gestures. Jonas continues to find new layers of meanings in themes and questions of gender and identity that have fueled her art for over thirty years. She is a great inspiration still today.

It is impossible to avoid the topic of body consciousness, embodied emotions and the image of body and personal identity that we see in your practice. What is the function of the identity appearing in your artworks – is it a canvas used to present your ideas or rather the subject of the art? What inspired you to use this as a theme in your practice?

I have been developing my visual imagery since I began studying art and film - from conceptual thinking, composition, using light and colour in different ways, through all the different techniques I've utilised over the years in my work and in my collaborations with stage artists such as dancers, musicians and actors. My approach is always developing through exploring these things. Visual imagery in essence is your way of experiencing what you see and transforming it. This is my world that I want to share and express through my art. The body consciousness, embodied emotions and the image of body and personal identity is part of this visual imagery, the emotional essence in my practice. Always present and always developing in different themes and projects.

Marina Abramovic stated: You see, what is my purpose of performance artist is to stage certain difficulties and stage the fear the primordial fear of pain, of dying, all of

which we have in our lives, and then stage them in front of audience and go through them and tell the audience, 'I'm your mirror; if I can do this in my life, you can do it in yours.'Can you relate anyhow to these words?

de-identify myself, by losing my roots, my culture, I would be very happy. Unfortunately the human being does'nt choose the place where he is born. He grows up in a society that automatically identifies, through education, culture, family... More than ever I think it's more important to go on a way of self-knowledge with the aim to meet “the other”.. This other without which we can not exist. It's the same for the artist. It is more important for me to be focused on my practice than to try to define it according to esthetic criteria of identification. It's probably the reason i like to remember the painter Matisse who said or wrote that an artist must never be prisoner of himself, prisoner of a style, prisoner of a reputation.

Would you like to tell us something about your background? Could you talk a little about experiences that has influence the way you currently relate yourself to your artworks?

All my way is influenced by encounterings.

It began by the meeting with my professor of literature at school. More than giving French or Literature classes, she brought us to discover texts, movies, plays, visual artworks and to think about on what we saw or read.. Thanks to her that I met Pierre Vincke, a theatredirector who was worjink in the tradition of Grotowski ... Both of them have led me to go to theater school. In this school I had meetings. Meetings with artists but also and especially human beings that made me discover. I always need o discover rather than to master a practice. It's probably the reason my encounter with Monica Klingler and Boris Nieslony was decisive for me and led me on the path of Performance Art which is a form still difficult to define. Each performance artist has a different definition of what it is...

Could you identify a specific artwork that has influenced your artistic practice or has impacted the way you think about race and ethnic identity in visual culture?

No I don't have a specific artwork that has influenced my artistic practise but many.

I'm influenced by some philsophers as well as poets or musicians or dancers or visual artists but also by some places or landscapes or atmospheres ... For some years, I was used for example to go to India where I was used to follow some traditionnal muscians or to learn bharatanatyam and practice vipassana meditation... Of course this experience has impacted my art work.... This brought me to think and work differently... My experience in India brought me to discover traditionnal strong art and paradoxally to the way of Performance Art. But there I see one common point: to make no separation between art and life and to be here and now, without projection on the future.

It's difficult for me to speak about race and ethnic identity. But I can say that today we miss more and more this notion of “to be here and now” which is more present in some cultures ... By practising Performance Art, it's my way to be connected to this way of thinking. And even in this field actually it's more and more difficult. The society and the art world brings us more and more to plan in advance, to define our work, more than to do. Just to do. To do what we deeply need.

And of course, my encountering with Black Market International and later the notion of Open Source or Open session via PAErsche have also a big impact on my work. When we go on that, each of us perform by sharing time and space but without trying to convince each other on some common way. This is for me a wonderfull way how we can meet each other, regardless of our origin, our race or our “identity”...

Many of your works carry an autobiographical message. Since you transform your experiences into your artwork, we are curious, what is the role of memory in your artistic productions? We are particularly interested if you try to achieve a faithful translation of your previous experiences or if you rather use memory as starting point to create.

My memory is clearly a starting point to create. I don't have any autobiographical message. I use my personnal experience ( what I feel , what I see, what I learn, what I ear...) to work. It's a motor or a material. I'm not able to paint, so I can't do something with red or white or yellow or black colors. All I have is life, a body alive. And I need to do something with that...

My sensation about life sometimes is too intense then I need to transform this intensity in some action. Some artistic action... If people can take something from this action this is great... but I don't want to give them “a specific message” or to control the translation of my experience.