Painting as a Landscape and Natural Disaster

 

“I think of the painting as a landscape that you step into. Landscapes and walking are two private passions for me, so I like this metaphor.”

 

Working primarily with watercolour on paper, he creates a new topography, providing natural obstacles and a sloping surface in his studio. He is thus allowing gravity to take up its true role as the primary natural force, via the angle that he positions the paper. The artist brings a psychological landscape with him, a scarred hinterland. With a mindset of communality, Erik Jeor often has our globally shared disasters as he starts a new work: “Catastrophic events are part of me still. There are words like landslide, dirty water, bathing in oil, mould, these natural disasters find a way into my work. When I paint, it seems that the opening moment often leads to this.”

 

Man-made objects, intruding into the natural world, surface as motifs. Pipes, a symbol of interconnected layers communicating, are a meshed web that protrude in several works.

 

The Dichotomy, the Pilot

 

Erik Jeor’s paintings are often numbered rather than titled, as if words limit or confine rather than explain. This is partly linked to the artist’s view of his paintings as both one-offs and not, seeing them both as individual and part of a long series.” Avoiding working on paintings as an industrial, scaled venture, he resists any kind of artistic “autopilot.” Names are troublesome: “a painting should be particular and general, specific and expansive.”

 

A Composition of Music and Painting

 

As a child, he played the flute and the cello, taught in the Suzuki method, built on hearing exercises rather than reading notes. To this day, Erik Jeor sees this method of learning music as being instrumental in his technique of painting: “Your ear is trained to follow things. Also, you are part of an orchestra. My paintings feel like this… I played closely with a percussionist. He said that you could work with stone, water, fire and wood to create sound.”

 

Erik continues to play and create music, and has released four albums. Much of Erik Jeor’s musical aptitude whilst young was directed towards spiritual themes. His father was a minister in a church which believed in active evangelism, a path which took Erik around Sweden, writing music and playing it at churches and events in diverse locations. Eventually it led them as a family to Stockholm when he was 17.

  

Iconography

 

Beginning a painting, Erik Jeor does not fix its ending, and shuns any plan as to how the painting will look in its final state. This element of experimentation is escalating: “Lately, I have been combining colours and details in new ways... The Icône series, which I’m returning to, requires enormous concentration.”

 

The Icône series touches on Erik Jeor’s faith, a complicated journey which remains a key part of his life. He regularly takes breaks in his painting to pray.

 

Embracing the German phrase in der Ruhe liegt die Kraft, Erik harnesses “Lingering as a method. Lingering allows us to contemplate, to be there rather than to rush.“ Contemplation, prayerful or otherwise, is an impetus to his work, slowing him down for the next phase of action.

 

This combination of action and contemplation means that the intention and mood of each painting has to be carefully deliberated on, even if the ending is not decided in advance. Choosing to spend time with a painting is like choosing to spend time with a friend. Erik Jeor approaches his paintings in this way.

 

One of Erik Jeor’s intentions is “to express something which is not fixed. A little related to John Cage’s 4 minutes 22 seconds.  John Cage said that silence doesn’t exist – in a silent room, you hear your body, you hear your breath.”

 

Father and Son – the Wellspring of Decision

 

One of Erik Jeor’s heroes and influences is Russian master icon painter, Andrei Rublev.

 

Among his Swedish artistic influences, Erik counts artists Öyvind Fahlström and Asger Jorm, whose visual letter from father to son finds an echo in a painting by Erik Jeor, created the same month as his father’s death as a reaction to and coming to terms with his father, which was shown at Bonniers Konsthall.

 

The father/son theme played a role in bringing Erik Jeor into formal art education. A key inspiration for the decision was Rembrandt’s last painting, the Return of the Prodigal Son. Embracing art became like the son returning into the familial fold. Art re-activated Erik and re-directed him, making him “able to be critical towards things that didn’t work in my life.“

 

Erik Jeor recalls a scene from Tarkovsky’s biopic of Andrei Rublev, where the army is desperate to make a clock, and can only do so through a ten year old boy who had seen his father make a clock. “Being an artist is a bit like that.”

 

Background and Early Exhibitions

 

Having been born in 1974, Erik Jeor graduated with an MFA from the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm.

Jeor is represented in collections of Moderna Museet, Malmö Konstmuseum, Sundsvalls Museum, Sveriges Radio and has completed a public art work for Karolinska Institutet.

 

Tasting Painting

 

Erik Jeor is passionate about the accessibility of his paintings, deliberately calculated to invoke a response of feeling rather than thought, to be a companion rather than a guide. His works include details that can “travel” and with ”fluid parts.“ His paintings are part of an imaginary world, where respondents “taste it rather than analyse it.”

 

Painting is also a matter of family. His wife, French artist Elvire Soyez, is also an artist, and his time studying in Paris meant that his eldest daughter was born there. This passion for art is also what Erik Jeor hopes to impart to his young students at the preparatory school where he teaches in Sweden. And this joy of teaching cycles back into his work.