What happens when something is erased, crossed out or covered up? Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd posed this question with a simple statement: Y̶o̶u̶ ̶a̶r̶e̶ ̶n̶o̶w̶ ̶r̶e̶a̶d̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶w̶h̶a̶t̶ ̶I̶ ̶h̶a̶v̶e̶ ̶c̶e̶n̶s̶o̶r̶e̶d̶. (Read it slowly, reread it, consider it and feel the dizziness!) Time may dissolve things in our memory but an image does not leave us. Elena Tzotzi has called this phenomenon “the remembered image’s body”.
Jakob Simonson both affirms and erases spaces. His sculptural paintings are based on a specific room. That was the case at Galleri Ping Pong and CEO Gallery in Malmö and Krognoshuset in Lund, and so it is too in the present space at Jakobs Torg, where 12 artists once founded the Konstnärsbolaget collective in 1973. Yes, every room has a history, which sits in its walls. But Simonson sees the windows. As early as seven years ago, when he created the installation Synrand (Horizon) at Landskrona konsthall together with Patrik Aarnivaara, it was the windows that became at once both the art and the art space.
Simonson paints on aluminium, layer on layer, each one with very little pigment, so that the sheen of the paint layers is gradually built up to create another space.
Our experience of these painted metal sheets as new spaces is of course related to the light, but it is not possible to overlook the actual relief effect created by the layers of paint. Millimetres of thickness produced out of slowness. Here a new space is gradually emerging – yes, it is in fact what remains after he has erased the cubic form of the ordinary room in favour of the spaces that let in the light.
Erasing and overpainting – not to mention the crossing out that I quoted above – these are densifications. We can experience Simonson’s paintings as musical – indeed, minimalistic – variational compositions, in which some fundamental characteristics are established and repeated. But when considering each individual painted aluminium panel I would go further than making simple statements, because in these panels I experience the thinnest of displacements. And minimalist music involves refined quarter tones and scarcely discernable differences, distortions. Here the angle governs the light, and it happens in an instant, but as mentioned earlier, the painting process has taken far longer – perhaps as many as 150 – 250 overpaintings. Various numbers of layers create variations of colour. The surfaces’ densities differ. The horizon lines arise from the overpainting process itself: they are in fact the painting.
I cannot shake off the thought of how present “the remembered image’s body” is in the overpainting – the erasing, crossing out. Once seen, it stays with us. Like a way of backing into a memory or a room. Where individual points – to now talk like Roland Barthes – become bearers of the whole. And Simonson goes farther than the layers of paint, because his paintings are also sculptures or reliefs. In angles related to the surrounding space, in voices and dissenting voices, they reflect and vary – and create – something typical in the room where they are located. A kind of architecture of the eye, in which the in-between space, the empty space – that is, a kind of pauses – in the building are transposed into details bearing meaning. In this way is the room changed – the space in which we are also present. The pictures’ clear reverberations do not leave us.
Text by Thomas Millroth.