The Swedish artist Marcus Eek will have a solo exhibition at Helsinki Contemporary on April 7–30. In the new paintings Eek’s hallmark archetypes familiar from nature have had to give way, since he has now based his expression on abstract motifs. In the works we still see strongly applied layers of paint, even if the effect is now more reductive.
The exhibition’s German title, Tapetenwechsel, literally means a change of wallpaper and refers to a new beginning, a change of scenery – and in Eek’s case to finding new ways of working. There has been a clear desire and need for change. The artist has had to put time and effort into leaving behind him other people’s expectations and his own need to be understood.
The exhibition is showing new paintings from the Tells series. The title here refers to the unintentional gestures, or tells, made by poker players, which reveal their tactics. In the works what is revealed derives from the choices made by the artist during the painting process, which the viewer can try to trace. Just as in poker, this is not just about revealing the opposing player’s cards, but also about understanding their train of thought.
“A figurative painting tells a story and an abstract painting is the story. It is like a staring competition, trying to find common ground on a wordless level. It is about gaining and maintaining a connection,” Eek says.
When he is working, Eek tries not to think too much and to throw himself into painting. In the new works the bright colour contrasts and the materiality of the paint pigment meet in glossy and matt layers of colour, occasionally abundantly applied, and sometimes radiantly transparent. Despite all the planning the painting ultimately comes about during the process itself, and influences are picked up from everything that surrounds the artist. The works are not, however, tied to this world, but are already playing their own game.
Marcus Eek (b. 1968 in Stockholm) lives and works in Berlin, and graduated from the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm in 1997. Eek currently has a solo exhibition at Galleri Charlotte Lund in Stockholm, until April 22. He has taken part in numerous solo and group exhibitions in the Nordic countries and Europe, including at Galleri Örsta in Kumla, Sweden (2016), Kunstkraftwerk, Leipzig, Germany (2016), Gallen-Kallela Museum, Espoo (2014), Landskrona konsthall, Sweden (2012), Björkholmen Gallery, Stockholm (2012, 2010) and Galerie Mikael Andersen, Berlin (2012). Eek is also known as one of the curator of Berlin-based collective Black Market, which organizes exhibition happenings and events. His works are in the collections of e.g. the Swedish State and Saastamoinen Foundation in Finland.