Catalogue: Martin Ålund Shimmer



A dampened light. Pale, elusive. At the same time surprisingly eventful. Issuing from the low-key surroundings, the light is offered more leeway. The colour is activated from within. The vibrato gains a time-axis. Suddenly the painting is set in motion, at an ever-increasing rate. The more I look, the more I am drawn into a course of events. The pale wariness was merely a delusion.

Shimmering. A shimmer – an illusion yet more subtle. The simple and unpretentious suddenly reveal a precipice. A formidable calm…

Martin Ålund

How does one envision the word ”shimmer”? As a glimmering light, fluctuating saturations of light and shadow, as a flicker or twinkle, or simply as a hint or suggestion? All the descriptions above can be readily ascribed to Martin Ålund’s latest works.

Martin Ålund presents us with landscape painting – a genre often associated with certain risks. The nature and objective of painting has been questioned and scrutinised incessantly over the past few years, and perhaps primarily land-scape painting has been associated with an old-fashioned, and theoretically naive attitude that clings onto the notion of the image as a neutral window to the outside world. Be this as it may, this is hardly relevant in Ålund’s case. His landscapes give rise to inner reflections and emotionally charged atmospheres rather than describing outer conditions. The basic forms are relatively simple, albeit possessing a complexity of meaning. We see muted and darkened forest landscapes, light surfaces alluding to lakes or banks of fog, horizons, and the expanse of the sky. Environments void of all human traces. Our thoughts lead to the forests of Norrland, characterised by their isolation and vast expanse. A visual template within which several conceivable modes of interpretation are put into play. The images are blurred and fleeting, as if located at the edge of our field of vision. As a reflex action, the viewer attempts to rivet her gaze, and identify forms and details. These attempts are futile, however, as the motifs evade concretising fixation.

The tone is enigmatic and mysterious. We have no idea of what hides within the dark forest areas, or what might happen in the next instance. Elements that deviate from our ingrained schemes of forest landscapes intensify the unfathom-able aspects. What are the strange and enigmatic forms discernible in the background, underneath the surface, or at the horizon? No explanations are offered, and not even specific titles give the slightest guidance.

There is an alarming grandeur to Martin Ålund’s imagery that is at times reminiscent of that of the landscape paintings of the romantic era. Perhaps ”the sublime” is a term applicable in this context, i.e. the experience of something as both disquieting as well as pleasurable. Nature is perceived as unnerving in its elusiveness, but at the same time as captivating, venerable, and awe-inspiring. Man is subordinate to nature, and in Martin Ålund's paintings, for all intents and purposes, non-existent.

When viewing the paintings at close proximity – which is to be recommended – the homogeneity of the forms dissolve and give way to variations of colour, vibrations, and delicate nuances. Eventually a tapestry of colours, ever incresing in intensity, reveals itself, instilling an almost meditative depth in the act of perception. Can one better than Martin Ålund himself describe – as shown above – the visual ambiguities and dynamics that permeate his works? An irrefutable presence of a consciousness and sensibility of sorts is experienced here; an earnestness that profoundly affects us and inspires reflection.


Translation: Richard G Carlsson