Now Featuring Fredrik Åkum

Swedish artist Fredrik Åkum uses flowing, luminous media to explore fleeting moments. Using the unpredictable process of snapping Polaroids, he documents youth, blossoms, trees and flags caught in the breeze and translates the images into watery paintings that drift between observed reality and daydreaming.

Exclusive Print 1

Exclusive Print 2

Exclusive Print 3

Exclusive Print 4

MH: It seems like you’re working in both painting and photography in a way that emphasizes the liquid qualities of both media; paint and Polaroid emulsion both have flowing qualities.  Does this impression ring true to you? Do you draw different connections, or additional ones?

FA: I like to work with liquid paint; a lot of water, inks and acrylics, so some parts of the painting is more or less uncontrollable. So parts of the painting will be working with each other without my full determination. There is something akin to Polaroid film in this. You have the material and the motif, but to control the outcome is not always possible.

MH: Your paintings and photographs share a similar palette.  How do you arrive at color choices?  Who and what are you influences in terms of palette?

FA: In recent years I’ve photographed with many different cameras, but I’ve rarely used the photographs as works, but as reference material to the painting. It is only more recently that some of my photographs have merge to fit with my painting. Out of 200 Polaroids I probably only show like 20 of them. And within this selection process I’ve been aware of the colors, to kind of create a better wholeness with my paintings.

What inspires me most in color is probably the summer, there is something special about summer in Sweden. It’s very short and when it finally comes, it feels like a certain anarchy breaks out in the otherwise depressed people, and that’s the most important battery in my color palette.

July 31

Isle of the Dead

Isle of the Dead

Balloon

MH: A lot for faces in your work are hidden or blurred.  Can you tell me about that?

FA: I try to get the imagery as equivalent as possible, that everything in the picture is equally important. Something that often dictate a narrative is a person’s gaze, or facial expressions, if a pupil is directed one millimeter to one side, the image changes meaning completely. And it’s rarely the facial expression or gaze that is important in my pictures. It also has to do with the people around me. The best photographic materials, for example, are photos where the person is not aware that I will take a picture.

MH: What kinds of connections are you drawing between youth culture and landscape?  Both are strong components of your work and sometimes it seems like you’re drawing them together, and other times like you’re using them to clash with each other.

FA: The youth of my pictures are mostly my friends, and many of our escapades unfold naturally in the forest. This core of close friends comes from the very small town we were born in. Where imagination is put at risk in order to kill time and not get too bored. We use to end up in the woods, the mountains or by the lakes.

What might appear to be some kind of youth iconography comes rather from my surrounding interests. Sometimes I work with fan art that feels like a natural part of fanzine-making, which is one of my major interests. And that everything more or less has the same expression, in shape and color, is probably because of my way to paint. I don’t really think about flesh if I want to paint an arm, or on wood if I want to paint a tree, it is rather that everything within the painting consist of the same matter. So if I paint a tree, maybe it reminds very much of an LP cover I just painted, to the expression.

Ocarina

Shake

Untitled

MH: What are some of your cultural influences?  I was thinking that your landscapes feel so European but some of your other content reminds me so much of suburban American imagery.  I know you’re based in Sweden.  Is that sensibility more universal that I’m imagining, or has it found it’s way into your work in another way?

FA: I’m very influenced by the Nordic nature, it really makes me feel inspired and at home. But I also give a lot of effort to allow me to be influenced by the global nature to not end up in a typical trade of Scandinavian landscape painters.

I am also very interested in aspects of DIY culture and surrounding music genres (a lot of American culture included). So I try enough to be honest with my interests and allow them to merge into everything I do in any way. I think it is important for me to show what I’m interested in and what I value, to show who I am as a person in the paintings. Like hints. If I had only painted landscapes, I had gone by like a more anonymous person I think, it would be harder to tell if I was 20 or 60 years old.

Sunny Youth

MH: Can you tell me about some of the artists you like to look at, both contemporary and historical? Or writers, zine-makers, and so on?

FA: I usually go through about 50 blogs a week, and in them are usually (despite my picky taste) a handful of artist that I somehow bookmark. But there is some artist that’s been hanging in for years in different ways, like Misaki Kawai, Stefanie Schneider, Dick Bengtsson, Luc Tuymans and pretty much everyone around gallery Loyal and Gallery Steinsland Berliner in Sweden.

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