17 January - 22 February, 2003
Lars Bohman Gallery
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Galleri Lars Bohman is pleased to present an exhibition of new paintings by the Swedish artist Peter Frie entitled ‘The Skies’ [Skyarna]. In this, his sixth exhibition at the gallery, Frie continues his investigation into landscape painting. A fully illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition.

In Peter Fries’s paintings one can discern an influence from the older tradition of landscape painting, for example, Constable and Turner. But Frie is no outdoor painter, instead he paints memories and emotions of nature rather than exact renderings. It is the experience of nature and not the landscape itself that is central to Frie when he creates his melancholy, timeless and unpopulated landscapes. He often combines memories of different places in one painting. A solid white, passepartout-like frame surrounds his landscapes. The white surface emphasises and reinforces the image of the landscape and serves as an aid for both Frie and the viewer. But the white field also represents a free zone, a negative area, a psychological reminder of what would exist without nature.

In 1998 Peter Frie was awarded the prestigious Ars Fennica award. Jury member Jeremy Lewison, Director of Collections of the Tate Gallery, London, motivates his choice:

‘Working in the long established tradition of landscape painting, acknowledging his forebears Turner, Constable and Munch, Frie’s paintings are at once intimate and grand. His decision to insert the depicted landscape into a field of white paint disrupts the conventional reading of the genre as a window on the world and has a physiological effect upon the viewer. The bordering white canvases concentrate the image as well as allowing it to expand infinitely laterally. The landscape is transformed from a window into a gateway as the viewer is encouraged metaphorically to project his body into the painting. Viewing becomes a physical experience. These are more than landscape paintings, however, for they express a strong sense of loss and mourning. Above all, they offer the viewer a distinctive and affective experience which encourages contemplation and inward reflection.’

In the new paintings, clouds and air dominate and the white field has been somewhat dissolved and functions instead as a form of screen for the landscape that appears to almost float by. Frie has been inspired by the Swedish poet Gunnar Ekelöf’s poem ‘Cloud’ [Moln]:

”On the sky’s blue screen / is the colour of clouds / for the light brush of the wind: / on the earth they become shadows”

In these sky paintings the ground is a complete reflection of the celestial powers - clouds, light, water - the earth is almost featureless. Frie’s strength as a painter is perhaps most tangible in the rendering of sky and cloud. When he seeks to create a visual form for air, ‘that which is not anything’, his finely tuned paint brushes render exactly the minute shifts of light. It is the light of dawn and dusk that dominates. Since Frie moved his studio to Berlin, the ground and trees have become more abstract and dispersed. During his time in ‘exile’ he has, at a safe distance from his own roots, reworked his approach to the canvas, without relinquishing his painterly principles. This has resulted in a new energy that has given his paintings more light, air and also created more room for fantasy.

Born in 1947 in Lysekil, Sweden Peter Fire lives and works in Båstad, Sweden and Berlin. He is represented at, among others, Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Malmö Konstmuseum, Malmö, Sweden; Atheneuum, Helsinki, Finland and the Friesichen Museum, Leewarden, Holland.