Winner of the Baloise Art Prize 2007.
Swedish artist Andreas Eriksson chose “Erosion” as the title for an extensive series of small-format watercolors, painted in 2015, which were first shown that same year in his exhibition at the Baloise Kunstforum. “Erosion”, plus a sequential number, signifies individual paintings, and it was also the title of the exhibition. Eriksson lives in some seclusion in a small, rural settlement, where he works in a wide range of mediums; besides painting in oils and watercolors, he also makes prints, photographs, and videos, sculptural figures and reliefs. First and foremost, however, he is a painter, more precisely a painter of landscapes—sometimes in extremely large formats.
Describing his paintings, including his small watercolors, as landscapes requires a more differentiated understanding of the term. While these paintings are contemporary and abstract, and truly modern, the artist is in fact very deliberately aligning his work with a particular tradition of representations of the landscape; we might more properly talk here of appropriations of the landscape. Eriksson borrowed the title “Erosion” from geology; as a concept it has less to do with the representation or depiction of the landscape than with the process of its formation under the influence of such elemental forces as water, wind, and the weather. Eriksson’s aim is not to paint a picture of the landscape, but to create an image that reflects its evolution; accordingly, the 39 small-format watercolors in his “Erosion” series combine to form a large-scale, multi-faceted, composite picture of the landscape.
Eriksson’s landscapes have aptly been described with reference to Paul Cézanne’s concept of the harmony of art “parallel to nature.”(1) Like that founding father of modernism, but also like Picasso and other modern painters, Eriksson might well cite nature and the art museum as his mentors. He has an extensive knowledge of landscape painting since Romanticism and even in his abstract paintings he never attempts to disavow his engagement with that formative background. Eriksson is equally discerning in the way that he deals with nature, on the one hand, and art-historical tradition, on the other. As such his approach is reminiscent of that of the Danish painter—and geologist—Per Kirkeby, particularly in his explicit recourse to geological factors and phenomena. Although there is a full generation between these two painters, in their wholly individual yet kindred attitudes to painting—alive to the past yet explicitly contemporary and progressive—they occupy similar positions in Nordic landscape art, which has had its own, very particular atmosphere ever since the mid-19th century. Eriksson could also be said to be similarly located in the traditions of watercolor painting as it has developed since its emancipation around 1800, and its first absolute high point in the watercolor paintings of landscapes, seascapes, clouds, and skies by J. M. W. Turner.
(1) See Martin Schwander, Andreas Eriksson. Erosion, exh. folder, Kunstforum Baloise, Basel 2015.
Further works by Andreas Eriksson in the Baloise art collection:
Inv. no. 1296–1297, each: Untitled, 2012, Watercolor on paper, 57 x 76 cm
Inv. no. 1298, Untitled, 2012, Watercolor on paper, 57 x 38 cm
Inv. no. 1299–1301, each: Untitled, 2012, Watercolor on paper, 38 x 57 cm
Inv. no. 1366–1367, each: Erosion 1–2, 2015, Watercolor on paper, 19 x 14 cm
Inv. no. 1369–1373, each: Erosion 4–8, 2015, Watercolor on paper, 19 x 14 cm
Inv. no. 1375–1404, each: Erosion 10–39, 2015, Watercolor on paper, 19 x 14 cm