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CANDIDATE 2004

Karin Mamma Andersson

born 1962 in Luleå, lives in Stockholm.

Karin Mamma Andersson's painting can be said to participate in contemporary art's discussion of trauma. She deals with the contemporary individual's complex relationship with history. Her paintings generate an atmosphere that is alienated and yet magical. Forgotten events and the traces they leave behind appear on an unconscious level as ghosts from the past. The mood of the paintings depicts the uncanny as defined by Sigmund Freud. In the paintings something familiar or homely reveals its forgotten or hidden side and suddenly becomes frightening. This emerges on a collective level in the solitary, wounded gestures made by the human figures in Andersson's paintings. The hypnotised gazes and vacant gestures echo the shapelessness of the current situation. At the same time, they reveal a stage, which invites interpretations of what is shown on it.

Seen from an art-historical perspective, the atmosphere of Andersson's paintings is situated in the intermediate zone between romanticism and modernism. The vision-like landscapes and interiors wander through the works like ghosts. Their atmosphere is both light and heavy. The frequently gloomy, landscape-like works are situated in some mythical North or in a Swedish fell landscape. The pine swamps, glowing white birches and voracious will-o'-the-wisps in her paintings are familiar images from folktales and spells. These impressions are underpinned by the structural clarity and weight of the paintings, which combine to produce the stylised, insubstantial nervousness of the resultant painted imprint. The postmodernism and quotation art used in American painting of the 1980s are still defined as no more than superficial concepts. We cannot help seeing in Andersson's pictures a connection with Carl Frederick Hill's diseased fantasies, Paul Gaugin's religious landscapes, Paul Delvaux's sleepless plaster torsos or Henri Toulouse-Lautrec's theatres with their grotesque cabarets. Edward Hopper's wanderers along deserted streets walk through these paintings.

The fundamental image in the paintings is a condensed experience of the layeredness of history in a staged present moment. Karin Mamma Andersson entices the viewer along with her into the strange atmosphere of the paintings. She is a present-day storyteller, who combines various phases of the plot into a single image. The old dining room, where the people who have used the room at different times have gathered for a shared dinner so as to carry on a mute conversation, can be seen as a stage ready for the first act of the play. The reliable points of reference in the surrounding world are givens, and yet they appear to be vanishing. Andersson is like a detective novel writer or the narrator in a mystery play, who sets up interesting clues for the reader. Viewers feel they are at the doorway of lost time - always stuck on the threshold, as though at a strangers' party.

Leevi Haapala