Andreas Eriksson, work in progress in the studio. Courtesy Studio Andreas Eriksson.
Andreas Eriksson, sketch. Courtesy Studio Andreas Eriksson.
Andreas Eriksson, Weissensee No. 17 (2019), 99 x 80 cm. Photo: Hans-Georg Gaul.
Andreas Eriksson, Weissensee No. 12 (2018-19), 238 x 140 cm. Photo: Hans-Georg Gaul.
Andreas Eriksson, linen yarns in the studio. Courtesy Studio Andreas Eriksson.

Andreas Eriksson – Weavings, sketches

Andreas Eriksson returns to the museum in the summer exhibition. His monumental painting Stenbrottet (The Quarry) for Karolinska University Hospital in Solna attracted a lot of attention at the reopening of Skissernas Museum – Museum of Artistic Process and Public Art in 2017. We now welcome the artist back with a major exhibition – Weavings, sketches. This time, the focus is on the process surrounding his textile works. Skissernas Museum now presents ten large tapestries in unbleached linen yarn produced in close cooperation with skilled artisan weavers in Lidköping and Berlin. Through a rich selection of sketches, photographs and material samples, we can find out about the time-consuming work. A series of paintings offers further entry points into Eriksson’s creative process.

Andreas Eriksson has a strong belief in the material. He moves freely between different artistic techniques, often using nature as inspiration. Walks in the forest with his dachshund Olle offer constant impressions. However, he doesn’t care about the names of trees and plants. Instead, it is nature’s endless rich variation and the structures and hues of tree trunks that fascinate him, and to which he then returns in paintings or the textile works he has created in recent years. Eriksson does not paint nature, does not romanticise it. For him, nature is a visual library.

Eriksson’s interest in materials and texture also applies to the canvasses in French linen that he uses for his paintings. The resistance of the canvas when the paint is applied and its tendency to be visible through the thin paint meant that the canvas itself became increasingly important. From there it was not a big step to creating his own “canvas”. He obtained a loom and tried to teach himself how to weave. After a time, he engaged professional assistants, highly-trained artisan weavers, who could interpret his artistic visions and, using their specialist knowledge, select an appropriate technique.

Sections from Eriksson’s paintings form the basis for the composition of the tapestries, which can bring to mind the bark on a tree trunk or map images of unknown landscapes. Based on a contour drawing under the warp in the loom, the surfaces slowly emerge. Each element is inserted by hand. The different nuances and structures of the linen yarn create light and depth. For several years, Eriksson and his assistants have collected unbleached and hand-spun linen from all over Sweden. The oldest dates from the 1700s. Different plant habitats and processing give the yarn its rich variations from light to dark beige or grey. Different weaving techniques produce different surfaces. Sometime long threads of linen hang freely from the tapestry. Eriksson has great confidence in the weavers’ expertise and leaves large parts of the weave design to them. It is only when the weave is cut down that Eriksson and the weavers can see the results of over 2 000 hours of work. The contours of the underlying working sketch have been filled with content. The linen canvas has been transformed into an independent textile work.

The exhibition also shows a series of 45 small paintings, Cutouts, originally fragments of larger paintings with which Eriksson was not satisfied. Instead of discarding the paintings, he cut out interesting sections, which he preserved as sketches for new works. The parts were also combined to make larger works. Just like the tapestries, the new works contain traces of previous processes, while also containing new possibilities.

Artisan weavers: Maria Andersson, Katja Beckman, Sara Eriksson, Siri Pettersson and Ben Smith

The exhibition is presented with generous loans from Galerie neugerriemschneider, Berlin and the Stephen Friedman Gallery, London. Large parts of the exhibition are shown at the Nordic Watercolour Museum in Skärhamn until 25 April 2021.

You can find out more about the artist’s work process in two recently published books: Andreas Eriksson. Weavings (Infinite Grayscale, 2020) and Andreas Eriksson. Cutouts (Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2021).

Andreas Eriksson (born 1975) studied from 1993 to 1998 at the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm. In 2007, he was awarded the Baloise Art Prize, Art Statements, Basel, Switzerland. Eriksson represented Sweden at the Venice Biennale in 2011. He is represented at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, MUMOK in Vienna, Gothenburg Museum of Art, Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Nordic Watercolour Museum in Skärhamn, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, National Museum in Oslo, Public Art Agency Sweden and others. Eriksson became a member of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in 2014. He lives and works in Medelplana and Lidköping.

Public works (selected): Weissensee No. 4 for Uppsala University Hospital, Roundabout for Södersjukhuset in Stockholm, Baum 1 for the Solna Main Library, Roundabout the Pipeline Tree for AstraZeneca (now Medicon Village) in Lund and Stenbrottet for Karolinska University Hospital in Solna.

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