Events at Österlen
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Hanna Sjöstrand & Marcus Matt - Gallery Thomas Wallner
2 Oct, 2020 at 12:00 - 17:00
An event every 1 week / weeks starting at 12:00 on Sunday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, repeated until 11 Oct, 2020
At one point, Hanna Sjöstrand discovered that she had developed a special relationship with trees. It happened during walks and stays in nature. She realized that there was a connection between her own experience of being in her body and the processes that took place inside the trees. Investigating such an experience through art drew her attention to an issue that in itself has always been a recurring theme in her art. How to handle the issue of the model? Where does it occur? What is a model?
Trees have played a major role in art history, but usually based on an interest in trees as a picture. They have represented trees in general, or greenery, even nature. Could Sjöstrand handle his experience of trees in a more fair way?
It was through the work of face masks that the way appeared. A mask is placed as a surface in front of one's own face and it is there, in the space between man and the mask, that the mask comes to life. The face is reflected in the adjacent surface, which becomes an outside, and what is behind the mask, the rest of the world, becomes the inside.
Bark is the outside of the tree, its worm, that which separates the inside from the outside world. It falls from the tree, rots and becomes a nutrient for the tree. Then it can arise and become a tree again. By picking bark and joining it into masks, it has become possible for Sjöstrand to stand inside the tree's processes, at the same time as the surrounding mask also becomes a surface that faces her, through which the rest of the world can appear, as a tree.
It was here that she found the solution to the question of the model in relation to Of Trees. It was no longer the image of the tree, as it appeared before her eyes, that was the motive. Instead, the model became Sjöstrand's intuitive experience of entering into its resemblance to trees.
We recognize this from Sjöstrand's other works. She goes up in different concepts to undergo transformations. The painterly gesture is an action that can move her, that allows her to discover unknown points to think about.
Our relationship with trees is ancient. It goes so deep into our understanding of ourselves that laws have been written that forbid us to worship them. According to the theater theorist Eldredge, it is in the paleontological use of worms that we get an idea of ourselves and many masks from such cultures are inspired by the relationship to trees. The impulse to hold something in front of his face is twofold. On the one hand, it means an attempt to approach a material, but at the same time, the action itself presupposes that one thinks of oneself as something that is separate from what one holds up. It is possibly here as the theater, as well as the dance and also other artistic impulses; including the painterly, born.
The experience that Sjöstrand makes in his work with Of Trees is that there is no distinction between the surrounding and what is inside us. The lungs are filled with the air we breathe. The food we eat springs from a consumption of animals and plants, is absorbed into our bodies and becomes a part of us. Painting is a language that is well suited to depict such an experience. It is, after all, closely linked to the modernity that has alienated man from the earth and, moreover, it is often both toxic and resource-intensive, but it is also something else. It has roots straight down in time to the old cave paintings where painting allowed hunters to approach the animals empathetically.
As she now approaches trees, Sjöstrand does so with the same intuition. Her ambition places specific demands on the process and the method to be applied. A worm practitioner should always design their own masks. It should be done based on an intuitive understanding of the material and what form it seeks. In this case, it means that the masks must arise as a result of Sjöstrand's understanding of the bark's inherent will. At the same time, there is a predatory drive in Sjöstrand's action. She takes bark, which is about to rot and resurrect, and deprives it of the right to return to its natural flow. The bark stagnates, turns into a worm, and a flow has changed. This movement between compliance and one's own desires is a prerequisite for a mask to be worn in a rewarding way. It is only by establishing a personal practice, cultivated over a long period of time, that a worm carrier can build up the kind of sensitivity and sensitivity that he needs. The series Yielding is a clear result of such a discipline where Sjöstrand has explored the movements that can occur when the mask covers her face and causes impulses. The challenge is to be able to maintain compliance while pursuing a vision of achieving painterly expressions.
It is a well known phenomenon that a worm can fuse with a wearer and that this can generate something larger than both the worm and the practitioner. This third appears as a kind of unknown being, not man or matter but something of its own. When this occurs, an observer experiences that the mask melts around the wearer's face and that the dumb surface becomes plastic, living clean. Mirroring has occurred during such a process. The paintings in this series are thus not portraits of the masks but rather of a kind of being that arises.
Producing your own color is a way of examining the pre-industrial artist's experience of painting, what prevailed before mass production and chemicals took over. Such artists could themselves follow the processes that minerals and organic material underwent. This presence in transformations created a different approach to painting in them than what is common today. Sjöstrand has returned to their holistic view by extracting their pigments from mushrooms and ash, and the choice of precisely these materials also aims to bring her even closer to an understanding of trees.
Fungi detoxify trees, pass information between them and serve as a source of nutrition for the trees in times of weeds. The ash is taken from a 150-year-old maple that has grown in Sjöstrand's garden.
Text: Ludvig Uhlbors
The night is at its fullest during sleep
Warm winds from a long time ago
The air trembles
And the landscape bends there by itself
Pillars of fog and summer
Knocking on the door of my friend's house
I turn my hand just as the moon appears
In all this there is a familiar architecture
Drag I remember
But the face is new,