Fighting the heatwave with art!
I dedicate this painting to all women and girls in Alabama, USA. The only person entitled to make a decision about their body is the owner of the body. Especially when it comes to such a profound decision of creating a life or choosing not to.. Women are like God that way (if you believe in one, I don’t) and you don’t interfere with God’s plan. The red cross in her back symbolizes delusional religious people and conservatives – who believe they are entitled to judge, force, exclude, punish, hate and make decisions for other people (in this case women). I was abused by a man of faith and during the attacks of physical and psychological abuse he used to shout: “I must beat the devil out of you! You have the devil inside you and he makes you into a whore!”
I will never stop fighting for women’s right to their bodies, sexuality, expression and independence.
This is the first collage in the upcoming “The Red Stories” suite. Girls, we are not keeping our mouths shut any longer! This is part of my #metoo story.
All of my different sides are visible in my art.
I haven’t felt like myself for a while. I’m a little torn between different versions of myself. The office-me, the artist-me, the Swedish-speaking-me and the English-speaking me, the strong me, the scared me etc. It can be a confusing at times. I’ve always had many sides to my personality and also many layers within each side which makes me a bit complicated to say the least. This is also visible in my art. I don’t have one single signature style, but various forms of expressions. I can be raw, I can be cute, I can be dark, I can be colorful. And I can be all those things at once. Even though I win many different followers and collectors by using different techniques and styles, I sort of envy artist with a clear signature style – because they are so dedicated to it. I am too restless, too curious about the next level of expression. I am always moving forward and I can’t go back to a successful style or expression even if I’d want to. When I move on, I never look back. Going back to an old style wouldn’t feel genuine and it would look forced. So, I guess that is my style – to always reinvent myself and my visual expression. On a deeper level, I believe I’ve used my art to rediscover and reclaim all the sides to myself that used to be censored or oppressed by other people.
I had some kind of breakthrough in my thoughts about my future painting last night. It was wonderful. The Dead Lolita theme has felt old for some time now. I don’t connect with the role of Lolita anymore, I’ve come too far on my journey of self-empowerment. It has been four years since I first got the idea of killing my inner Lolita – and I think I killed her on the way without even noticing. All the artworks for the Lolita show will be included in other collections.
The new theme for a future collection of paintings is “black on black” – whatever that might be. I have worked a lot with demon portraits against a black background and I would say it is my signature style. I love playing around with different nuances of black, adding more life to the dark and, often flat, color. I will also go back to making mixed media pieces instead of just acrylic on canvas – I have some new ideas I want to explore when it comes to my technique. This is exciting! I have already prepared some canvases. All covered with black paint, of course.
I am finally back to making art again. It’s been 5 months since I finished the last piece in PhotoShop (The Blue Connection). Being creative is my natural state, so I am starting to feel like myself again. I can see that my style has changed a bit since the last 2 pieces. It has shifted from a darker expression to a more delicate and dreamy style. My collage technique has always been driven by a freudian selection of images – but I work on a much deeper level now. My new collection of works will be my most personal one yet. Like visual diary notes. Who needs therapy when you have a talent to dig into yourself and bring it out as an emotional confession through a clear visual expression?
It is early morning and I am thinking about my new collection No Place Like Home and how it was supposed to be a love story. I have been working on the collection for almost 4 years now. From the time I met Johnny until now when we are broken up – you can follow our love and connection by studying my work. A house adrift. Two houses making a connection. Creating a root system. Sparks. Fire. Then – a separation. A disconnection within the root system. And now what? Am I supposed to end the collection about “finding a home” – on a bad note (with The Blue Connection)? Perhaps I have to continue working on it until something comes along that will create a ‘happy ending’? What if I have to wait for years to find my happy ending?
I will continue working on this collection to see where it’ll take me.
photography by mia makila
I just woke up from a strange dream. I was in an old and abandoned SPA facility with a friend. It looked like a tiled circus tent with bright colors. We looked around and found a staircase to another floor, where an old lady had a dusty record store. There was a door to a garden in the store. I was carrying a naked wax doll into the garden and put it on the grass. Suddenly she came alive and her body became warm and she looked at me with her eyes wide open. She started to scream. I picked her up and held her in my arms. She made resistance. She wanted to escape but I wouldn’t let her. Her heart was beating so fast. She was strong, but I had her locked in my arms. I tried to soothe her and hush her while sitting on the grass with her facing the garden. I could feel it working. Her heartbeats were finally slowing down. “Good girl. Your name is Echo”. I said. Then I woke up. I could write a story based on this dream, it was like a seed to something creative.
Yesterday I spent the whole day in PhotoShop. My wrist is a little sore today. But I am having so much fun. At the moment I am working on two pieces about houses and they will be the last ones. I need one house where my story begins – where my trauma started, The working title is “Genesis”. And then I need one last piece where the story ends. It will be a love tribute to my home with Johnny.
I think I am done with the houses now. I started making them in 2014, right after I had left the man and the house in Stockholm. When I became ‘homeless’ in so many ways. I don’t feel homeless anymore. Not in any way. So it’s time to wrap up the digital suite about houses.
I feel like I am entering a new phase in my creativity. My skills are improving so fast and my ideas are bolder and more complex. I am also using more contrasts in my work. It highlights the rawness of my style.
Today is International Women’s Day and I am celebrating it by refusing to be held back by anything or anyone. Not by my critics, not by my fear and not by my own past. When I was living in that house in Stockholm, I felt censored and I held back so much of what was me. It’s very uncomfortable for me to look at my art from that time. They are ridiculously foggy and submissive to the viewer. You can hardly see anything more than a pastel colored mist.
Here is “Tess” from 2012. You can see how I’ve worked up the contrasts in the first version and the original, foggy version:
More foggy works from 2012:
You can almost follow my journey through confidence and bad self-esteem just by looking at the palette in my art. It went from fiery to foggy and now I am all about contrasts.
Work from 2006:
I will rest my wrist today and spend the day doing other things. I just can’t seem to shake off that dream. Echo is hauting my mind.
I am taking a couple of days off to just focus on my meditation and making preparations for the panel discussion on Saturday. I have so many thoughts about the horror genre and about why I am making horror art in the first place. It’s funny, because I am not that into the genre in general. I don’t listen to dark music (if you don’t count Bach and Mozart as dark composers), I am not a big fan of horror movies and have never read any horror novels. Although when it comes to visual art, I prefer darker expressions, but it doesn’t have to be horror art. Is Swedish artist Lena Cronqvist making horror art? Roger Ballen? Are the films of David Lynch expressions of horror? Or Bergman movies? Does horror have to be a negative energy? There are so many questions in my head right now.
I am definitely bursting my own comfort zone by stepping into the arena again. It is both scary and wonderful. I made a new year’s resolution to “find the pulse of life” in 2017 – and I had no idea it would only take a couple of months to find it. Funny how life works.
Even if there are so many good things happening right now, I’m feeling a little overwhelmed. To be an artist and to make art is a to make a contract with the world – the art doesn’t only belong to the artist but also to the world outside the studio. The art is in a way, its own thing with its own integrity. I am just the birth mother. With this unspoken contract it is understood that I, as an artist, am in the arena, a public figure with a voice. It is both a responsibility and a privilege.
As I am entering the arena with my art once again, many people want my attention and participation. I love it. But this new tempo makes me feel a little out of my depth. I know it’s just a matter of time before I get used to it again. It is, after all, a very positive thing. I’m feeling very loved and appreciated.
This week I’ll be busy with preparations for the “Women in Horror” panel discussion in Stockholm on Saturday. I wrote to the discussion moderator and suggested we could call her “the murderator” instead. She loved it.
I am featured in French cultural magazine Fier Panda with a new interview!
Read it HERE in French or the English version below:
I would really like you to tell us a story, if you do not mind : the one about pink in your art. I believe i remember you posting something about a disease you experienced years ago… Am I right ?
I was born with a serious case of atopic eczema and various allergies which would make my skin break out in violent rashes. My skin was always sensitive and in intense periods I would scratch myself until I was without any skin on my hands, and I had to wear bandages. This physical childhood trauma is visible in my art and I am dealing with the ‘pinkness’ of my skin and the world I can see and feel underneath it. The raw, the meat, the fleshy truth of my existence all exposed for the world to see. It still happens that I get sick and have to take surreal bath treatments at the hospital. The baths are, for some reason, colored in neon pink. I use more pink during the periods when I am sick.
But the pink color in my art has other explanations as well. I discovered my teen sexuality and had my first orgasm in a pink bed. When I think about it, everything in my childhood room was pink. I also use the color because it represents femininity to me. I am always creating artistic expressions based on my own experiences and feelings and I happen to be a female artist and it’s reflected in my palette. Even my depictions of Hell are pink and girlie. I had an art show some years ago called “My Pink Hell”.
I try to keep up with you creations and I feel like your art has encountered several stops along the years. Has your painting always been related to the bumps in your life ? Unemployement… Romance issues… Violence… Family troubles… I feel like you are the blueswoman of swedish painting (yes, I know – ‘jeeez Louise’- right?)
I am always changing and evolving both as a person and as an artist. When I change, my art changes too. I have been struggling with post trauma stress for many years and you can follow my trauma recovery in my art by looking at it in a chronological timeline. And I have gone through many psychological processes in therapy during this time and it has helped me create a very personal mythology in my art. I use a lot of symbols but for me they have a different meaning. I use upside-down crosses but to me it’s not a Satanic thing, I use the Eye of Providence, cats with eyes on the body, bodily fluids like piss, poop, drool and blood – and fireworks. All of these things are part of my personal mythology and have a deeper meaning.
My creativity (my visual art and my writing) has helped me survive many hard times. I use a lot of humor to deal with the horror, the fear and the rage. So even if I am ‘a blueswoman’ of Swedish art, I am also playing some polka melodies to have some fun with it. Playing the polka blues – yeah, that’s what I am doing! This way I am not only surviving the painful things – I am also adding humor to it so I can laugh at it. It’s such a relief. Without using humor, I would play the blues from a grave right now. For real. My art has saved my life many times. And watching Seinfeld and Frasier helps too. I need to make art and to laugh. A lot. That’s how I have survived 20 years of suffering. But I am feeling happier than ever right now. I have punched many demons in the face while dealing with them in my art. They all deserve it.
At times I haven’t been able to make art and that’s when it’s been really tough. But it only happens when I stop believing in myself. So when it happens now, I know that it’s not about my art, it’s about how I am feeling about myself.
Do you have hope you’ll ever find yourself through all the process of creating? Like your voice is singing somewhere and you’d really like to find the tune.
I am slowly on my way there. I had a big creativity blockage and got all burned out a few years ago so I have been away from the art world for a while. Now I am working on a new collection of artworks. I want this new collection of works to be bolder, more experimental and more ‘me’. More of everything! I have only just begun to explore the new me in my art. I know I have a lot to discover and I do feel like I have to learn a new language because I am moving away from my old artistic language to make room for another. It’s exciting and a little scary because I don’t know where the journey will take me – but that’s the nature of a journey. They should be a little scary because that’s when you know that you are pushing your boundaries enough to grow and flourish.
Could you please tell me a bit about your experience with meditation and how it influenced your life ? Your art ?
Meditation is a great tool to ‘clean your emotional palette’ and to find the right focus. I used to believe it was new age-ish and a only something for hippies and that’s not my style but I have found the perfect style of meditation: guided NLP meditation (Neuro Lingvistic Programming) which focuses on stress relief rather than transcendence and all that creepy out-of-body stuff. In the trauma I separated my mind from my body to be able to survive, so I don’t want to have an out-of-body experience again. I want to do the opposite – to reconnect.
The meditation has helped me stay more focused while I am working and I’m also finding more details in my ‘meditation dream state’ to add to my artistic mythology. Since I started with meditation, my art has become more airy, more spatial and ‘clean’. The expression is captured with simplicity now.
Being a Swede and a woman, how do you feel about the new state of our world ? How do you feel about : Russian politics ? American politics ? Swedish politics and the far-right wing slowly creeping in your country? (Same in France by the way…)
It is a scary time, especially for us women. I get very affected and upset by what is going on in the world. There is just so much negative energy in the world and it’s hard to feel safe. There are an increasing number of rape, sexism and fascism have moved into the White House and in Russia it is now legal to abuse women. As a survivor of domestic violence, this makes me both sad and angry. But I am dealing with these issues in my art at the moment – it will be my way of commenting on all the crap that’s happening in the world since I can’t really do anything about it in any other way. I am not a political artist but I can’t help but wanting to contribute somehow.
I know you have tried several others media than painting, do you feel you need to explore some more ? Would you like to see more people painting in 2017?
I wish people could find the courage to be themselves and to use whatever talents and strengths they have. We all have some superpower but only a few acknowledge it. Most people like to ignore, numb and hide their true nature so they can go on living in their comfort zones. I have comfort zones too but at least I know they are ‘uncomfort zones’ because you can’t grow in them and there is no way for new ideas to grow there. To me that’s creepy. I try to stay away from my comfort zones but being financially broke right now forces me to be stuck in one at the moment. As soon as I have more money I will try new things and invest money in bigger art projects. I want to make sculptures (made out of junk), I want to curate a group show and I want to buy a professional camera so I can make new photography projects. I have so much I want to do but so little money! Do I sound like that bluesman now?
You have always been a big provider of oddities on the web and I first knew you via your blog. Do you feel like we should all drink to the Web source ? Is it a corrupting or inspiring feeling ?
It’s inspiring because you can connect to the oddities like finding little pieces of your ‘home planet’. But it can be a comfort zone too, to stay in places that feels like home, instead of looking for new zones somewhere else. I like the idea that you can find every sick and twisted thing you can search for on google. It is all there. Amputee porn, cats with strap-ons, dwarfs with redneck mullets, people fucking oatmeal, fingerfucking melons and licking statues for fun. Whatever the human mind can come up with – it’s all there. It’s a cyber ghetto wonderland.
Finally, what great things are you going to accomplish in 2017?
To continue working on my new collection of artworks and perhaps write short stories. I also want to learn how to not be so scared of the good things in life. Like love, happiness and success. “If you are at the top there is only one way to go – down.” This is a very disturbing way of looking at life and I need to change it (as fuck). So I have a lot to accomplish in 2017. Wish me luck!
Since I started to scan my own handwriting for my digital works, I have been inspired by the idea of incorporating words, letters and written messages into my paintings as well.
My trauma is so much about language. Words. The lack of them. Repetition. The tone of them. The temperature. Linguistic warfare.
I have always been attracted to words in paintings. Basquiat used it a lot in his paintings. David Lynch as well. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why I am so into early renaissance art – there are a lot of writings in them. I also have a soft spot in my heart for Mexican ex voto paintings (prayer paintings).
Since I was a little girl, I’ve loved to write and make up stories. I got A+ on most my Swedish assignments in school. Writing has always played a big role in the way I express myself. But in my traumas there has been this underlying threat that I am not allowed to express myself through my writing. Especially not about the traumas. Using words in my art is a way for me to rebel against this threat – and a way to break free from the invisible chains I’ve been forced to carry for the last two decades. It is my statement of independence and a way of reclaiming my artistic freedom.