Conversation with Sara-Vide Ericson

Curator Susanne Ewerlöf (SE) in conversation with Sara-Vide Ericson (SVE).

SE: When I encounter your paintings, and in our conversations, I get the sense that you create situations where you seek to renegotiate life’s conditions, sometimes through dramatic gestures that could topple the power that the past holds over the present. And sometimes it’s more like you find peace and balance and want to stop time in its tracks. Is time something you think a lot about, and how do past, present and future exist in your works?

SVE: Yes, I think of time on many levels and from many different perspectives. Most importantly, perhaps is that aspect that my paintings are already lived, they are all physically staged and experienced. The performative process precedes the painted. So, the paintings are always witnesses of what has taken place. And painting is an action where time stands still. But nonetheless an action that could ultimately reverse the sequence – and that the paintings could just as well trigger the sequence, like being a witness after it happened.

In general, painting as a medium often feels strange in relation to time itself. Because a painting can feel so static – and at the same time like it cuts through time and space. Perhaps even more than any other object? Is it because the person who painted it stands exactly where you stand as a viewer? And you see it with the same eyes? Maybe there is something in it that renegotiates time. And the fact that the act of painting is so incredibly formless in its process, because before a painting is finished it literally has no boundaries.

Sometimes, I also think of time in relation to the above in a more playful way. Like that there is something deeply alluring in painting things that are wet. Simply because the wet tells of something that happened just before the moment in the painting, and that if the painting lived in our time capsule, then wouldn’t the hair in the painting have dried by now? Like the paint has. But the hair is still wet.

SE: The exhibition presents works by you both that sometimes exist in the same mood, in the same habitat, or activate the same point in my body as a viewer, while you both portray multilayered chains of events in every individual work. Given that individuality is born in interaction with the surroundings, how does it feel to present works so closely with another artist?

SVE: It’s hard to know yet, because we have really barely touched each other’s universes so far, I don’t think we can know what the outcome will be until the exhibition is installed and the works are combined as a totality! But working with Tilda has been, and still is, so rewarding because it was so unfiltered, and yet, we are also two completely separate islands. Maybe that is how our works will co-exist in the gallery spaces? Independent, yet speaking the same language, together enmeshed in the mystery of being trolls, no, I mean, humans.

SE: Your methods and media are different, but you are both meticulous in several ways to what you portray, but especially when it comes to materiality. You are both showing works that span several years; what materials do you use, and has your approach to materials changed over time?

SVE: I use materials that can be pointers or projection surfaces for inner notions, or memories, both private and collective. Ultimately, however, my language, or writing, consists of oil and pigment. But the method leading up to it can feature any material that grabs me and screams: paint me! Living and dead animals, a fragile sequined jumper from the 1930s, a pair of muddy boots or plump lips. My relationship to the actual materials has probably not changed over time, but my faith in that my intuition knows more than I do at first glance has changed. I dare to stay more unformulated further into the process, and that has its rewards. In that way, I can be both more playful and violent at the same time, and that is a more enjoyable way of working for me.

SE: You are both currently working in Hälsingland. How are places from your home environment present in the exhibition at Bonniers Konsthall?

SVE: The landscape is an extension of my studio, an exterior space that is in my DNA, and in my mental library of physical spaces that can heighten a specific emotional state in a painting. Maybe it turned out that way from wandering for hours in the forest ever since my early teens, being ground into sand and then rebuilding myself in these woods, mires, mountains. Environments where you are eradicated and then recreated probably become associated with the concept of the “landscape of your soul”, whether you want to or not. But at the same time, it’s just an ordinary place to live in, a landscape that ironically becomes invisible to you. A place where you can have a great, large studio and, alongside your work, be part of a small social community of different people who happen to live in the same place.

Image: Sara-Vide Ericson, Supernatural Helper, 2022. Courtesy Galleri Magnus Karlsson & V1 Gallery.