Exhibition: Desire of the Tail by Sara-Vide Ericson

Sara-Vide Ericson, one of the most influential painters of her generation, is exhibiting in France for the first time. Her large figurative canvases, inspired by surrounding nature and her own personal experience, transform personal stories into universal myths. The exhibition features some twenty works produced especially for the Institut suédois.
Painting representing a woman in used garments sitting on a wall of shells, looking the observer in the eye.

A young woman draped in a long skirt and a large shawl sits on a tide of barnacles against what looks like a cliff, a vast wall of brown and chalky tones painted in broad, expressive, almost abstract brushstrokes. She confronts us with her gaze, a rare motif in Sara-Vide Ericson’s work. It is difficult to identify the nature of the landscape and its location. Are we on a beach, by the sea, on the banks of a river or at the edge of a forest? Who is this contemporary oracle, and what message does she wish to deliver?

Sara-Vide Ericson’s work is characterised by large figurative oil paintings inspired by her immediate environment. Recurring motifs in her work include objects linked to various stories and experiences, her own horses, and the nature that surrounds her – the forests, rivers and marshes of Hälsingland, the wild region of northern Sweden where she grew up and where she and her family relocated almost 10 years ago. However, her paintings are neither navel-gazing self-portraits nor naturalistic landscapes. Boycotting the soft green that heralds the arrival of spring every year, rushing to collect materials before the fateful season begins, Sara-Vide Ericson does not paint the “beautiful nature”, the picture-postcard nature often depicted by artists from Sweden and elsewhere. Cavernous, muddy, dangerous, even devouring, nature is an indomitable force which the artist comes to terms with more than she tries to represent it. Although Sara-Vide Ericson’s paintings are based on her own experience and sometimes feature herself, they reveal very little about her. Her inner landscapes, open to multiple interpretations, remain intriguing mysteries. In search of a form of archetype, they resonate with archaic myths, evoking a primitive and original timelessness. In this way, they are canvases which we are all invited to immerse ourselves in to explore our own connection to the world, to nature, to animals, to ourselves, to living things.

Sara-Vide Ericson is a painter, as demonstrated by her particularly masterful, meticulous and innovative work with materials. For this exhibition, playing on the effects of relief through texture, she has perfected the piping bag method, enabling her to project the paint onto the canvas following precise lines of varying thicknesses, creating three-dimensional ornaments as in pastry-making. These highly textured areas, which she uses to render embroidery and barnacles with greater authenticity, contrast with other areas where the canvas is left almost bare. Her creative process is also based on a form of performativity. It all begins with a search for a motif, outside the studio. Considering herself to be a hunter-gatherer, Sara-Vide Ericson hunts, collects, brings home and then, when the time comes, selects objects-souvenirs, experiences or pieces of landscape and assembles them as paintings in the studio. But when the artist has an image in mind, she first has to make it real. So she creates stagings in which she plays the character, a kind of performance of which she keeps a photographic record and, above all, a physical memory. You have to be able to feel the image, to embody it, in order to paint it. Is this why Sara-Vide Ericson’s works have such a strong presence, such a captivating force?

Exhibition co-curated by Sara Arrhenius and Marion Alluchon.

The exhibition also gives rise to a programme of parallel events.

With the support of the Swedish Art Council (Kulturrådet) and the Embassy of Sweden in France. Our thanks to the Galleri Magnus Karlsson, Stockholm.

Useful information

  • Admission free, no need to book in advance.
  • Opening: 16.10.2023 / 18:00 – 20:00.