Throughout his career, Andreas Eriksson has made subtle study of landscape and time. In his new exhibition at Stephen Friedman Gallery, the first half of the show focuses on a series of large-scale tapestries. Made in collaboration with a team of weavers trained at the noted Handarbetets Vänner textile school in Stockholm, the pieces were executed in his Berlin studio but, like much of his work, speak to the natural landscape of his Swedish home. With delicate variations in hue and texture, Eriksson’s undyed yarn comes together as an associative patch-work of abstracted topography. In some works, borders are finished with tassels or else the surface is left entirely shaggy, evoking plants or lichen. In others, the varied textures come together to suggest rocky crags or bisected earth.
Large-scale and encompassing, the tapestries dance skilfully between dualities, never quite settling on abstraction or figuration. Each feels deeply rooted in a sense of time, an archaic feel-ing that encourages a visual excavation and exploration akin to that of nature. Where in the world, layers of sediment and rock form strata marking the passage of millennia, in Eriksson’s work, the yarn comes slowly together into rows over the years the tapestry develops. One may read them as one reads a cliff-face—seeing the accumulation of time made manifest.
In the second half of the exhibition, Eriksson turns towards another aspect of his practice, presenting ‘When snows fall’ (2020), a series of plaster casts made from the surfaces of pre-existing paintings. A painter, photographer, and sculptor, his varied oeuvre always returns to aspects of memory, process, and nuance. In the white surfaces, Eriksson evokes the blinding white landscape of a Nordic winter, snow touching everything in the landscape indiscriminately. For Eriksson, the works recall his childhood memories and the unique disequilibrium of being in a storm, unable to find any sense of space or scale. The soft, white detail of these casts are complemented by a further installation of ceramic candle holders, designed by the artist and inspired by Swedish designer Pia Törnell, ‘Tracing Time’ (2020).
At more intimate scale, the sense of isolation in these pieces is pronounced, a feeling only heightened by the knowledge that these works were created as an echo of an unknowable counterpart. While we can experience and examine their delicate surfaces, we are forever left guess-ing at the content and nature of the paintings that led to their creations. That content is buried much as the landscape is in the winter; it’s unknowable, left as a captive of time. While the surface of the works are fixed, the mind is drawn immediately to the feeling of waiting for spring, for impossible thaw. It’s something the candle holders only add too— wax is a marker of time as much as sand is in an hourglass.
Eriksson’s exhibition has fully adapted to its current online existence through a video tour, and even through a screen, the delicate texture, careful craftsmanship, and laborious production is evident. In the current circumstances, spending time with his work was a welcome respite, transporting me back to memories of countryside and renewing my appreciation for creation. While I hope to be able to see his work in person soon, don’t let the screen be a barrier. There’s always something to explore, more to reveal.