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Cecilia Edefalk

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Cecilia Edefalk, 
Maskros / Dandelion
Art and Theory Publishing, 2016 
ISBN: 978-9186-265-304



Cecilia Edefalk — Maskros / Dandelion

Associate Professor Karin Sidén
Director General of Prins Eugens Waldemarsudde

Cecilia Edefalk’s work has a recurrent timbre in which lyrical visual poetry meets the ambiguity of a spiritual world. The way meaning is conveyed in the silence between words, or in the gaps between notes, finds its parallel in Edefalk’s concentrated and highly personal visual language. There is an aesthetically chosen dimension, as well as an ideological foundation that in certain works leads to a minimalism bordering on the charged expression of the empty unprepared canvas.

Conveying the ephemeral, and approaching the ethereal life beyond, is an uncompromising challenge chosen by the artist. Cecilia Edefalk takes on this challenge in her subtle, often low–key yet expressive work within the fields of painting, sculpture, and photography. A transparent layer of paint can in her work seem to find its own breath, a sculpture express a mobile line between art and nature and between the accidental and the refined. Her photographs create meaning through carefully chosen, allusive motifs in shifting, fading light. The great challenge that Edefalk has chosen in her artistic work presupposes a life in harmony with the creative process. Cecilia Edefalk chooses to sensitively embrace whatever seems valuable, be it encounters with people or with older works from the canons of art history, a proximity to nature, a visually interesting everyday object, or inner conversations with deceased writers and artists. August Strindberg, a recurring conversation partner of many years, belongs to the latter, as well as Italian painters from the early Renaissance. Cecilia Edefalk was born in 1954 in Norrköping. After graduating from high school she attended Konstfack from 1973 to 1977, specializing in graphic design. She continued her studies at Birkagården College from 1980 to 1981, followed by the Royal Institute of Art from 1982 to 1987. She had her first solo exhibition at Galleri Wallner in Malmö in 1988, but her breakthrough came in 1990 with an exhibition at Galleri Sten Eriksson in Stockholm. Here she exhibited Another Movement, a series of seven works of different sizes with one and the same motif culled from an image in the fashion magazine Klick but loaded with new, ambiguous meanings. Long before, from 1978 to 1979, Edefalk had been commissioned by the publisher Wahlström & Widstrand to illustrate a book on flora with watercolors. In close to 170 watercolors in a variety of formats Edefalk depicted different grasses, flowers, and trees with well–nigh scientific precision pared with a fragile, poetical expression. The book was never printed but the watercolors provided for a beautiful exhibition at the Nordic Watercolor Museum in Tjörn, which presented a selection of Cecilia Edefalk’s delicate floral watercolors alongside captivating work by Hilma af Klint. At Waldemarsudde the sensitively rendered watercolors form a natural link to the site of the exhibition and to the cultural heritage in the field of plants, parks and gardens that the museum manages, in the spirit of Prince Eugen. An interest in different aspects of nature has stayed with Edefalk since her work on the floral watercolors in the late seventies and has in recent years found its expression in paintings and sculptures of birch branches as well as enigmatic photographs and paintings of wilting dandelions. Edefalk has had one artistic success after another since 1988, with her works and exhibitions garnering critical acclaim both nationally and internationally. The iridescently beautiful painting Baby, where the facial expression, pose, and painting style together convey a feeling of melancholy, has become a legendary key work from the late eighties. Within the impressively large format the portrayed person seems to float in the painting like a medium, where light and the brush mark amplify each other in an all– encompassing atmosphere of inner sadness and transience. The spiritual finds particular expression in her series of painted angels, in motifs such as The Bee-Girl, or in renderings of fragments from the imagery of Antiquity in blue, transparent tones. In the series based on one and the same motif, the individual works convey different atmospheres and expressions through a probing and communicative manner of painting, sometimes including various shifts in scale.
Several years in Berlin in the nineties— before the city had become the central hub for Swedish artists that it is today— led to broadened international contacts and subsequent solo exhibitions at larger art institution and galleries in places such as Cologne, Frankfurt, Kiel, Zurich, and Bern. Since then an interest in the sculpture of Antiquity—a face depicting Marcus Aurelius, Venus de Milo, or forgotten Antique fragments—is a recurring element in Edefalk’s body of work, finding its expression in her paintings, sculptures, and filmic projections. The international success at the time, as well as later on, in Europe and the USA, has meant that Edefalk has in a way held a special position in the Swedish art world. Cecilia Edefalk has never belonged to any grouping, but artistic friendships have been cultivated over time and space. The allergy to turpentine that she developed in the nineties contributed toward her exploring new technical approaches in painting. Edefalk has developed her sculpture in parallel, where precision is paired with seeming coincidence and where a poetical form of expression closely related to painting is conveyed. In her sculptures, nature is transformed into art, which becomes natural again like an eternal life cycle. Even the impact of rain on the surface of the bronze can have a meaning. Photography has been one of many points of departure in Edefalk’s artistic practice since the eighties. Recently there has been increased emphasis on this side of her work in several critically acclaimed exhibitions and articles, such as in connection with the recent in–depth presentation of a selection of her photographic work at Galleri Stene Projects in central Stockholm. The recent photographs have often revolved around themes such as time, memory, impermanence, and rebirth in depictions of individual dandelions or meadows of wilted dandelions. This work may awaken associations to art history, including the sketches that Richard Bergh executed before painting his Symbolist work Riddaren och Jungfrun (The Knight and the Maiden). Edefalk not only depicts dandelions in her photography but also in her painting, both in the form of small portrait– like depictions in different nuances and moods and in intimations of fields of dandelion blowballs. In these paintings the dandelion appears to be a condensed expression for the eternal cycle of life and nature. The dandelions ambiguous name and characteristics, and its beautiful stellar wilting forms, are transposed to spiritual and visual meditations in Edefalk’s idiosyncratic iconography. The word maskros/dandelion has lent its name to this publication and the comprehensive solo exhibition of Cecilia Edefalk’s work at Prins Eugens Waldemarsudde in the fall of 2016. Like a cycle of epic poetry, the exhibition presents the work thematically in a sequence of rooms, each of which has its own mood, as well as a certain significance with regards to both Edefalk’s oeuvre and the site of the exhibition. Spirituality, time, impermanence, and rebirth are overarching themes in Edefalk’s work and thus also key to the contents, selection, thematics, and presentation of this exhibition. The exhibition Maskros/Dandelion is the largest solo exhibition of Cecilia Edefalk’s work since Moderna Museet’s comprehensive retrospective in 1999. A lot has happened in the seventeen years that have since passed and this exhibition provides the opportunity for a whole new generation to encounter the work of an artist who has long been one of Sweden’s most renowned, critically acclaimed, and interesting. The exhibition is a retrospective despite departing from a traditional chronological hanging of works. The earliest works in the exhibition are Edefalk’s floral watercolors from the late seventies, while some of the most recent pieces portray dandelions through photography and painting. The exhibition takes up the entire middle floor, as well as the studio and the southern garret of the Palace at Prins Eugens Waldemarsudde. It is supplemented with this comprehensive publication, as well as artist talks and a concert. For the stimulating and thought– provoking conversations about the contents of the exhibition, art, the spiritual, and other things relevant to the successful implementation of the project I would like to extend my warmest gratitude to the artist Cecilia Edefalk. Many thanks also for the generous loan of works and the conceptual input into the exhibition. We are also grateful to the other lenders, from public institutions such as Moderna Museet, Norrköpings konstmuseum and Malmö Konstmuseum, to Galleri Stene Projects and Gladstone Gallery in New York, as well as all the foundations and private collectors who have made these important works available to the museum. Thanks also to Carl Barkman at Bukowskis for his important contribution and to Bera Nordal at the Nordic Watercolor Museum in Tjörn. I would like to extend a special thanks to Friedrich Meschede, Jonna Bornemark, Axel Wieder, and Jesper Svenbro for their interesting contributions to this publication. Thanks also to Anna Eriksson and Estelle af Malmborg at Art and Theory Publishing, to Bettina Schultz for important work with the catalogue, to the designer of this book, Maja Kölqvist, photographer Carl Henrik Tillberg, and Edefalk’s assistant Chandra Sen Jakobsson. Waldemarsudde’s own staff also deserve a big thank–you, especially exhibition coordinator Catrin Lundeberg, the museum technicians Lars Engelhardt and Lars Edelholm, and our head of communications, Cecilia Dalborg, for their dedicated work and great efforts on this project. We are most grateful to Prins Eugens Waldemarsudde’s sponsors Handelsbanken, Kinnevik, and the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation for their generous support of the museum.