“These paintings flutter, flap, open, and close. The images float freely, but they are also nestled safely, securely on my lap.”
Oil and coloured pencil on canvas. 200 x 170 cm
The three paintings comprising Astrid Svangren’s newest body of work, ‘the juice of bees/ the berries of the grape/ and other secrets’, can be seen as the culmination of the painterly sensibility that has run through her practice over the past 20 years. In that period Svangren has explored the potentials of painting as an immersive, ritualistic, spatial, and temporal experience, but through mediums that diverge from and challenge the conventions of the traditional stretched canvas. The questioning of fixed compositions, and thus meanings, has always been at the forefront of Svangren’s investigations. Examinations that are usually presented with an emphasis on precariousness and fragility, both in the very literal material and in the figurative associations that Svangren induce with her motifs and her lyrical titles.
For Svangren this is what painting is able to perform. It is about traversing the experience between a lived world and a dreamed world. It is less about the final resting place of the fixed motif, but rather about the ritual and movement that generates it. The experience of painting is not fixed in place but moving and changing in synchronicity as one moves and changes; it is an invitation to shed the burden of knowing in entirety and to indulge and give oneself into the experience. The experience, the memories, and the material.
The interest of moving away from the medial multiplicity of Svangren’s past investigations to the easel paintings of ‘the juice of bees/ the berries of the grape/ and other secrets’ is in some way the endpoint for her decomposing of the expectations of pictorial representation. For if she can break down the historic representational regimes and conventions of intentionality tied to the stretched canvas, she might be able to present the easel painting anew. A painting that both acts and is. Painting squared.
Svangren’s works are included in the collections of The National Gallery of Denmark; New Carlsberg Foundation, Copenhagen; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; The Nordic Watercolour Museum, Skärhamn; and The Margulies Collection, Miami.