Mike Weiss Gallery is pleased to present Swedish artist Martin Wickström’s inaugural solo exhibition in New York. Blending signage, landscape, figuration, and Sixties paraphernalia into montage, Perfume River presents twelve oil-on-canvas paintings of cinematic proportion and enigmatic presence. Composed into scenes and moods with palpable depth, Wickström’s scrapbook-like composition intertwines both collective memory and introspective biography, reminiscent of our uncertain past and nostalgic for histories that never were. It is through the artist’s line of sight that new, lingering meaning is given – that, or none at all.
Wickström references his extensive world travels, namely an impactful stint in Vietnam, as well as his history of overlapping paint, found object, light, audio and installation. His process splices found imagery and personal photography together, incorporating a kind of chance encounter that lives on in his photoconceptual realism. Interplay of light and focus procures an air of mystery, a visual poetry which resonates with our subconscious and curiosity. Repeating imagery of vibrant plastic buckets, reflective pools, and retro graphic text in sequence feels decidedly Pop, even reminiscent of propaganda. Through this fusion of somewhat dissonant aspects, the works maintain a certain sobriety – an unmistakable façade that bespeaks a world of meaning lurking beneath the surface. Materials then assume a nexus of dyads – water both beautiful and catastrophic; plastic transformative and artificial; perfume intoxicating and pungent; memory sweet and haunting.
Like documentary vignettes the paintings converse as puzzle pieces within a greater whole – each a meditation on our metaphysical quests. To be sure, Wickström’s pseudo-narrative experiments with this lack of overt meaning, even insertion of meaning – like an empty vessel to be filled, or a vehicle for broader truths in this fast-changing world of ours.
Martin Wickström lives and works in Stockholm and is one of the preeminent living painters in Sweden. His work resides in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm, The Gothenburg Art Museum, and the Malmö Museum among others. He shows with Angelika Knäpper at Lars Bohman Gallery in Stockholm.