Agneta Ekholm

Finnish born, Australian based artist Agneta Ekholm’s work is by definition abstract and built entirely from imagination and engagement with her technical process. Each painting evolves on the canvas: no working drawings exist. The paintings result from the exploration and discovery inherent in a technique honed over the last 20 years.

The viewer is immersed in the luxurious ebb and flow of paint and mysterious forms which might be suggestive of radiological images, landscapes, light-play, water flow or movement: many personal associations may be provoked. The scope of individual response to the paintings reflects an indefinable quality that is essential to the work’s ultimate success.

Working with fast-drying acrylic and water, Ekholm uses a sponge to apply layer upon layer of shapes and gestures with solid pigment and transparent washes, while continually washing and rubbing sections away until the final complex image is built. She may work for days on a small isolated section of the painting. It is an obsessive and fastidious process and the work travels a complex journey of twists and turns before Ekholm finds the ‘solution’ which is that painting’s final incarnation.

A spare use of colour focuses attention on a sense of movement in the forms framed by a still surround. In these works an inky blue creates a cool, dark and sensual space. It seems paradoxical that the work, while time consuming and re-worked attentively over weeks and months, should appear at first glance simple and immediate. The strong fluid and organic core stilled by the gentle ground , contributes to vague figurative and emotional qualities that the audience just cannot pin down.

Ekholm’s work has been critically acclaimed by several prominent art historians. Sasha Grishin AM writes that Ekholm’s canvases, “even on first encounter, are striking and unforgettable. They are deeply immersive paintings – refined, exquisite and restrained – works that operate on a non-verbal, contemplative level, more like painted music than painted narrative.” With shared praise, Dr Christopher Heathcote points to the serenity masterfully achieved by Ekolm’s reductive signature style. He says, “these paintings amount to serenity made visible, a quality few artists have accomplished. Very few. It’s rare.”

Agneta Ekholm

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