While inspecting a somewhat masterful figurative painting, it is easy to forget that in no way is it a captured image of something real. It is merely a collection of pigments on a surface. Especially nowadays, with all of us being more or less experts in viewing and judging photographs, it is worthwhile reiterating the exact relationship between motif and painting:
The artist observes a scene or object and using her skill and cultural understanding, then fixes paint and pigment to a background. Another person, upon seeing this display, uses his own cultural understanding and imagination to interpret what it is the artist has depicted. No automatism is present in this relationship. There are no guarantees that the audience will see or feel what the artist intended. A certain amount of shared cultural understanding, as to what constitutes a painting and how it is to be made, is crucial for there to be communication - which is the key-word here. Making and looking at a painting is an act of communication, not of recording. This becomes all the more evident when setting the work of two artists next to each other.
The crisp and precise brushwork of Edite Grinberga leaves no doubt as to what she intended for us to see, or so at first, it seems. Often settling for a single iconic object cast against the white walls of some nondescript empty room, her command of form and detail draws our eyes to the centre of her paintings. Lingering beyond the first impression though, and allowing our gaze to wander past the almost annoyingly exact rendering dominating the painting, makes it clear that we nearly missed something. We suddenly notice the pale and discreet shadows falling on the white wall behind the prominent motif. We become aware of slight shifts in the light illuminating the scene. With subtle means, Grinberga shows us not just a single object in all its detail, but the entire room surrounding it too. And this room is by no means empty – it has simply been cleared free in one corner.
The rooms and spaces capturing the interest of Gustav Sundin are all but clean and empty. We are served snapshots of the everyday - the dinner table after everyone left, the random arrangement of clothes and books spread around the living room, the bedroom on a late afternoon when it is abandoned with the bed unmade and soft light falling in through the window. Often the same places reappear on other canvases. Sometimes the shape of a dog or a small child flits by. Sundin's brushwork seems seductively simple, off-hand almost, but the rendering of colour and light is precise. We feel as if we were squinting at a real interior, letting the pressed together eyelids blur reality until only colour and light remains. His paintings are by no means the result of carefully copying blurry photographs, however. They were all painted live, and they exemplify what painting is - the careful composition of pigments on a surface.
SIMKA approach colour as if coming from a completely different dimension. Usually working with sculptures, gardens, large outdoor installations and scenography, their ten short videos about colour came about as a creative outburst after a frustrating showdown with Swedish bureaucracy. Their playful and irreverent films take colours both as title and theme, and approach them in an almost shamanistic way. Simon and Karin, sometimes supported by other actors, perform the colours using grunts, chants, strange dances, shuffles, hops and manic activities. Their brashly coloured costumes sharply contrast against the often muted natural settings chosen as backdrops for the videos. Nothing is explained, and nothing is assumed. We are watching, not pigments on a surface, but actors in a landscape.
Edite Grinberga is a German-Latvian painter based in Berlin since 1990. She studied at the Academy of Art in Riga, and specializes in highly realistic figurative painting. Grinberga is represented by Galerie Friedmann-Hahn, and her work is often present at art fairs and gallery exhibitions all over the world.
Gustav Sundin is a Swedish painter educated at the Florence Academy of Art, for which he later worked as a teacher for a while. He is based in the south of Sweden, where he also runs Galleri Torekov, which grew out of an artists' group from the region. Sundin paints figurative with a focus on colour and light, taking the life and landscapes of his own life as his subject matter.
SIMKA is the collaboration between Swedish artists Simon Häggblom and Karin Lind, who individually also work as landscape architects, visual artists and scenographers. Their often more or less permanent installations and interventions outside or indoors investigates and shapes sites of human interaction. Between them, they have produced a large number of stage productions, installations, gardens, art exhibitions and performances.