August Strindberg

Strindberg 1

I’ve known a little bit about August Strindberg (1849-1912) as a playwright and a novelist.  Some have described him as the father of modern Swedish theatre.  Until recently, I knew nothing about him as a brilliant painter and photographer.  In fact, few outside his native Sweden know about his paintings: in doing research about his work, I found that a lot of sources about Strindberg completely ignore this part of his art.  It was absolutely fabulous to discover his paintings!

 

Strindberg painted mostly when he struggled with his writing, in the 1890s and early 1900s.  He painted the sky and the sea and the land with vigorous brush strokes, in dark colours which were likely a reflection of his mood at the time.  In an essay from 1894 called “Chance in Artistic Creation,” he describes how he chooses “a middle-sized canvas… so that I can finish the painting in two or three hours, for as long as my mood lasts”.

 

August Strindberg’s paintings were years ahead of their time, more akin to paintings by abstract expressionists than works by a late-nineteenth century Swedish playwright, novelist, poet, photographer and painter.

 

In early 2005, almost 100 years after his death, the Tate Modern held a major exhibition of Strindberg’s paintings and photography. 

 

Here are a few samples of his works.Strindberg 2

Black and White

As much as I love colour, there is something I find fascinating with a pure black and white painting.  Here is the most recent in an occasional series of black and white pieces.  I really enjoyed painting this.

Black and White Series #5, Oil on canvas, 2003, 24" x 30" (60 cm x 76 cm), Photo courtesy of Sam Domski
Black and White Series #5, Oil on canvas, 2003, 24″ x 30″ (60 cm x 76 cm), Photo courtesy of Sam Domski

Rediscovering Old Works

I was making a bit of space in my studio for a picture-taking session when I re-discovered some old paintings that I had stashed away on a shelf.  The were both from the same period, 2006 (Turbulent Times) and 2007 (Stormy Weather). I generally tend not to go back to older paintings, except to recycle the canvas.  It was interesting to see how my paintings have changed over time, and how in so many ways, they’ve remained consistent.  I have a number of new paintings that I will post here in the next few weeks.