Magnum Opus

The path of visions

The most common question I hear when I show my art - besides technical issues - is "where do you get your ideas from". The following questions usually are about if I have a lot of nightmares and such. The answer to the second question is easy; no, I never have nightmares, I also do not put any greater effort into remembering my dreams if they aren't exceptional in some way. In the past I wrote down virtually all my dreams for a while, but it ended when I woke several times each night to take notes on the most trivial dreams. To begin writing down your dreams is similar to a tourist giving bakshish to beggars; you do not still a need, you're opening a maelstrom.
The answer to the first question, Where I get my ideas from is what I now will try to give an answer to. Before 1995 I painted more by whims, I often constructed images coloured by megalomanic, mythological ponderings. I discovered though that some images came from another source which was far more personal, honest and more interesting. Some images just kind of appeared, complete, crystal clear in my head. I noted that I in some states of consciousness saw images flashing by my inner eye, images which then stuck like "photographic" memories until I painted them.

I decided rather quickly to give up all made up nonsense and only paint these visions. I usually get them in the border zone between being awake and asleep, therefore I always have a small notepad beside my bed. How it works can be described as follows: Imagine yourself in a dark cinema looking towards the screen. Suddenly the light is turned on for a split second and during this second you see an image on the screen.

I never make up the images I paint, I draw a quick sketch of the vision as soon as I've seen it (it takes some effort to wake up and think that the Art is more important than the sleep). I never add or subtract anything from the images since that could bias the image's story or message. I also do not censor the visions; I paint whatever I see no matter how silly or outrageous it might be. The vision is like a condensed dream, with a story and an often personal, sometimes mystical message. I know that I will paint the vision quite soon if the visions is clear and sharp, if it's diffuse it still lies far into the future. If I shouldn't paint a vision in the correct way it sooner or later returns. As you can see at the paintings pages some similar motifs appear again and again.
This should not be compared with when I for instance make a piece of furniture or when I'm building a machine; in a way I see the finished product before my inner eye during such occasions also, but it's not the same thing as with the visions. The visions are far more sharper and are not flexible thought-constructions like blueprints. The difference is like working with a CAD-CAM program and to get a postcard with the mail.
On a mystical plane I actually look into the future during these short moments, seeing the finished painting, maybe through someone else's eyes. Why I sometimes have notions of another beholder is because there's often an emotion tied to the vision, and that the feeling is not always what I myself would have felt for the image.

This is a life insurance in a way: if I've seen a particular painting then I know that I'll live at least until I've painted it, and the day I no longer see any visions I probably haven't got much time left. Scary? No.
It's a great variation in what the images have to tell. Take for instance (a not unique incident on my journey) the paintings with the three angels, or demons, RGB (Red, Blue and Green): I received the first vision, "They who change", after the trip through the Middle East. The image shows a tower tomb outside Palmyria in Syria. You can see photos of these towers in the slideshow about the Middle East. The towers served as family tombs for the elite in Palmyra 2000 years ago. On the inside they are designed like the tray racks in the restaurants of our days; the mummies are stacked in slots which were sealed with a hatch shaped as a portrait of the diseased. I went into these towers and these three sentinels probably thought it much more interesting to hang around with me than to spend any more time with old mummies. The demons appeared on several paintings and also messed up some in the surroundings. This episode was tied together in the latest painting, "Demons in order". It wasn't though until much later when I sat and looked at the painting during the exhibition at Galleri Stenhallen in Borgholm that I got the picture: The demons are back again each in their own slot in a Palmyra tomb. Since then I haven't seen neither hide or hair of them.

I follow no "ism". Don't call me a "fantasy artist" or a "surrealist" because those shoes do not fit. This is my religion. It's a faith which proves itself. Through my visions a path opens towards a greater understanding of myself and my place in the universe. If this sounds self-centred it's a correct observation, but, if I should "do the right thing" seen from an economic -altruistic- perspective and paint what I know will sell, "give the audience what it wants" then I would not only miss what my visions have to say about my own life but I would also fail those who are like me and see themselves in my art. There aren't much for such people in the culture and what there are is what keeps them alive.

The images you see on this page are some of the original sketches I've made right after I've seen the vision, often rather heavy with sleep, set beside the finished painting.