Andreas Eriksson's presentation at Stephen Friedman Gallery comprises a new series of large-scale handwoven tapestries and a majestic oil and acrylic painting. The Swedish artist is known for his subtly textured paintings of the natural world, describing them as “existential landscapes”. This new body of tapestries expands the artist’s formal language and demonstrates the connections between these two distinct practices.
Rendered in subtle hues of undyed yarn, this body of tapestries offers a unique window onto the artist’s rural surroundings in Medelplana, Sweden. Hovering between abstraction and figuration, these meditative works can be interpreted as patchwork topographies or details of organic forms such as trees, earth and rock formations.
In a Berlin studio that houses five traditional looms, Eriksson collaborated with a team of weavers trained at Stockholm’s historic Handarbetets Vänner textile school. Making a sketch or using an existing painting to plot the composition of his tapestries, the weavers interpreted these ‘maps’ with specific guidance from the artist regarding thread, density and technique. Taking two years to produce, at a rate of perhaps a centimetre or two a day, this painstaking mode of production reflects the artist’s enduring interest in the passing of time.
The works’ linen is sourced from multiple sites in Sweden, linking each piece to the specific geographical location of its materials. Variations in tone and structure between the different types of yarn are used to create light and depth, lending the works a painterly quality. Tassels and loose threads that hang freely from the surface of several pieces conjure up associations with cascading waterfalls, patches of lichen and trees rustling in the wind. With its delicate attention to the individual threads that form each work, weaving is like “making a painting from behind, instead of in front” according to the artist.
A large-scale oil and acrylic painting, ‘Pink Semaphore’ is rendered in Eriksson’s characteristically subtle palette of earthy and botanical hues, accented with sunset pink and vibrant blue. Echoing the woven grid of the canvas, colour is applied using contrasting vertical and horizontal brushstrokes that recall the repetitive stiches employed in Eriksson’s tapestries. This technique creates a patchwork of ambiguous, organic forms which flow around, merge and collide with each other. Variously gestural and controlled, the soft dynamic of Eriksson’s visible brushstrokes and dripping paint reflects the gradual evolution of the natural landscape.