Medeya Lemdiya: Hello Gustav! Could you introduce the artist Gustav Sundin to our readers?
Gustav Sundin: Gustav Sundin is a Swedish figurative painter, with a girlfriend, 3 dogs based in Torekov Sweden.
ML: Can you tell us more about the professional and artistic path that has made you and artist?
GS: I have always been drawing and painting for as long as I can remember. In 2004-2007 I enrolled the painting program at The Florence Academy of Art and worked as an assisting instructor to 2008 at the newly opened Gothenburg-branch. At the F.A.A I got a very strong technical foundation but had yet much to learn from classic masters, great contemporary painters and gain more experience from both painting and life.
In 2006 we were four friends from school that started Bjäremålarna, a group that has now become a network of artists arranging courses and exhibitions every summer in Båstad and Torekov, Sweden.
ML: Why did you choose painting as your way of expression yourself rather than another one? What triggered it?
GS: While growing up my mother always had material laying around that also was available to me. So as a child, painting and drawing came very natural. And painting is such a raw and direct mean of expression. By simply making marks with simple tools and see how an internal image and idea translates and develops onto paper or canvas is a fulfilling experience.
ML: Do your life and its different stages have an influence on your art? In what way?
GS: Certainly, people around me as well as my life influence my work. I believe many of us go through similar experiences in life as human beings, with more or less extremes of course. That way we can also relate to one another and I hope to reach that connection with whoever looks at one of my paintings.
ML: How would you define your work? What do you say about your work to someone who has never seen a painting by Gustav Sundin?
GS: I work figuratively and communicate with both realistic and abstract elements to convey a feeling or a state of mind. It can be chaotic, messy and dirty while there are some areas of more clarity.
ML: Your last series of paintings represents men and women naked ... Why?
GS: When we are naked we are exposed and vulnerable. There is so much expression we can detect and relate to in the human body, since most of our communication is channelled through the body language. Most of my figures are completely or partially faceless so not to steal too much attention. If you paint a portrait that’s what people would be looking at, I want to direct more attention to the body.
ML: Whether in your portrait, your figurative paintings, still life or your your landscape, we experience a strong sense of loneliness... Is it voluntary?
GS: My paintings are very personal and I believe that in our darkest corners we stand alone. Its not really something I set out to do in all of my paintings though. “Limbo” is actally a painting that deals with loneliness even when we are surrounded by other people.
ML: What prompted your choice of subject, technique and style?
GS: My subject matters and concepts are very much derived from my interest in psycology, philosophy and a desire to understand the human nature. How we develop and change throughout different phases of our lives. The way I like to see it is that my technique and concept go hand in hand. These figures are going through changes by breaking apart in the process to be put together in a different way, some might always be broken.
ML: In general, what do you think about when you are working? (other paintings, the cinema, music, literature...)
GS: The best days are when I get completely absorbed by working that I don’t really think of anything (the thought process has already been before I start painting) and I loose track of time, bills and laundry-days. Whenever I get to precious with a painting or thinking its failing, I like to think about how insignificant we as humans are and that in a hundred years or so nobody will care if I screwed up a painting. That makes me braver and I dare to make bold decisions that, of course, sometimes ruins a painting but teaches me a lesson for another.
ML: What is the starting point of a painting, the early stages of your work? (a sketch, an image, chance, pure imagination, a little of this, a little of that?)
GS: I start a painting in many different ways, usually using photographic references and sometimes live models. I don’t really follow a step by step procedure. Sometimes I do small sketches to note an idea. An idea is often somewhat of a fragmented picture or a feeling. It’s mostly the feeling that is important to convey. So it is not always crystal clear what I need to do to get there, it takes a lot of experimenting. I try to challenge myself in different ways and sometimes there are “fortunate mistakes” that gets a painting where it need to be so in that aspect, chance also plays a role.
LIGHTNESS OF BEING
ML: What painter from the past would you like to meet, and why ?
GS: I would like to have met Lucian Freud, he seems very interesting to me.
ML: And contemporary painter?
GS: Antonio Lopez.
I really love his work.
ML: Could you tell us about a painting you would like to see it your own ayes? Why this one in particular ?
GS: The Flaying of Marsius by Titian. A painting that I have wanted to see for a very long time. Theres so much in that painting that is still relevant in todays world.
ML: According to you, when does a painter, a photographer, a musician... becomes an artist ?
GS: Anyone who state they do art are artists. Then of course is the question if its good art ? Personally, I appreciate honest works from artists that really put their hearts on plate.
ML: Can you tell us about the exhibition of another artist that has left a special mark on you ?
GS: The Peredvizjniki exhition in Stockholm in 2012 , was a group exhibition with great Russian painters Ilja Repin, Isaac Levitan and Abram Archipov. The best exhibition I have seen live.
ML: What is your most emotional memory of a personal exhibition, and why?
GS: Most of my exhibition memories are pretty hazy. There are so many people at an opening to talk to and everything kind of blends together. A strange sensation is when I have had a successful show is a feeling of emptiness and not happiness as one would expect. All the stress before, with all that comes with it, lets go and there’s a vacuum for a period of time after wards. It takes some time to recover. Also selling a painting I worked on for a long time is also mixed emotions, some paintings are more emotional than others. On one side I can sleep well at night knowing I can pay rent and on the other side that money will soon be gone but the painting I might never see again.
ML: Artistically speaking, is there a dream you haven’t fulfilled yet?
GS: The past few years have been my best painting years so far and I have truly enjoyed my time in the studio. I hope I will keep challenging myself and learn more, become a better, a braver painter. As an artist I hope never to fell fulfilled.
ML: Tell us more about your current artisctic occupations? What are your artistic projects?
GS: I have just moved up to Stockholm temporarily for 5 months and Im working with a continuance on my “Transcending” series for a show in Easter.
And Im also working on two portrait commissions, which I haven’t been doing for a while. So that’s refreshing too.
ML: To give our readers a general idea of you, I like to ask our guests the « desert island » questions. If you were stranded on a desert island, what would you take with you?
* What book? A book on How to make sandcastles
* What film? Ratatouille
* What music? Some Leonard Cohen albums and something more cherry like, Jubel with “Klingade” that’s kind of sunshine music (assuming it’s a tropical island you choose to drop me off at?)
* What object? A dvd-player so I can see the film
* Which one of your paintngs? The biggest one to build a sail with it
ML: What trip would you like to make that you haven’t yet?
GS: Becoming a father, me and my girlfriend are expecting so in June this year there will be addition to the family. That will be a whole new journey and Im very excited.