Walking on the gravel road by my grandparents' farm one afternoon in August. A dead adder lies dusty and grey among the pebbles. I look at it, take a picture. All is still. This is exactly how I view the works of Benjamin Andersson, in silence.
Precise rows divided into two sections, nine rows each, on the wall of his studio. Thin layers of black iron oxide both absorb and reflect light. The surfaces change. It’s a physical experience. A resonance wells up inside me, like a being brought to life. Pictorial worlds open up. I’m nowhere and everywhere at once.
Andersson works intuitively and process-based, mainly with painting and installation. The references exist within the secretive, holy and divine. Peter Cornell, former professor of Art Theory and History of Ideas of Art at Konstfack and the Royal Institute of Arts in Stockholm, describes in his book Saker – om tingens synlighet, Giorgio Morandi's still life as meditations on the being and essence of things; how the paintings from the early 1920s are formed through a haze of ocher and grey; how things appear at dawn, or dissolve at twilight. This is how I want to write about Andersson's work.
The human being is a reasoning vessel, a snake that sheds its skin. Cornell also writes about the philosopher Martin Heidegger's discussion on the jug, how sky and earth inhabit the vessel through the thirst quenching, life-giving water, sometimes sanctified, for the mortal, and as a drink offering for the immortal. The vessel that unifies and gathers. The urn that envelops the ashes of the deceased in the earth. Life is fragile. When the snake Jörmungandr in Norse mythology, releases its grip of its tail, we all perish. In Christian iconography, the snake is a symbol of Satan, but through the shedding of its skin it is considered a symbol of immortality in many cultures, a parallel to the moon, which is reborn each month with renewed vigor. In ancient Crete, the snake was linked with the Mother Goddess, in the same sense as lover and companion. Urns emblazoned with twined snakes served as fertility symbols. The snake makes me watchful, as well as the looming death.
Using the material's possibilities and limitations as a springboard, Andersson conveys the images and stories that exist within us. They are quite close. Vadställe and Vägvisare (Ford and Signpost). Intuitively, something significant is experienced. One evening in September 1931, J.R.R. Tolkien is reputed to have said that the myth is an imaginative description of the truth. How and what the truth is I do not know. But what I do know is that even the silence has resonance, just like the enveloping stillness of the sacred room, where the sound of the body shifting grows louder, higher, intensifies, before falling down towards us again like rays of light.
Text by Anna Norberg
Translated by Sofia Hysing
Ray of light
Fills the room with fear and desire
Thru my veins, to my eyes
Coming at me while the lines meet the sky
Acid King, Silent Pictures (Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere, 2015)