"Every painting is a self-portrait" | Artist Mamma Andersson | Louisiana Channel

“You can only draw from your own well. It never runs dry.” Swedish painter Mamma Andersson shares the process and inspiration behind her creative practice.

In the video, Mamma Andersson explains why all of her works are forms of self-portraits: “Sometimes you paint your own demons, the things that you fear or the things that you experience subconsciously, as in a dream,” she says. In her opinion, all artists use themselves: “I don’t think you can find any artists and not just visual artists but also writers and filmmakers, who don’t draw on their own experience. That’s the material that we have.”

Many of Andersson’s paintings reference found imagery: a face from an old issue of Vogue Magazine, a cat from a book of cats, photographs from crime scenes. Most often Andersson uses black and white photographs as a starting point for her work: “If it’s a colour photo, I change it into black and white. Just so that I don’t feel controlled by it. It gives me more freedom if I start with a black and white photo,” she says and continues: “Then I can choose the colours I want. It’s more open.”

“You’ll never see me placing a mobile phone in a painting. Never. They’re so damn ugly,” says Andersson about her paintings. For the most part, she tries to make the works as timeless as possible. On top of that, Mamma Andersson rarely shows faces unless they are the faces of dolls: “As soon as a figure turns their face towards you, your eyes will pause there. That’s true,” she says and elaborates: “A glance is a very dominant thing. I think it has to do with a sort of timidity, because when I paint a face, it will often be a doll or some fictional person. It’s easier to meet their glance because they don’t have one.”

Mamma Andersson (b. 1962) is one of Sweden’s most internationally acknowledged artists. She studied at the Royal University College of Fine Arts in Stockholm. She represented Sweden at the Venice Biennale in 2003. In 2005, she won the Carnegie Art Award. Her dreamlike, expressive compositions are often inspired by cinematic imagery, theatre sets, and private interiors. She is represented by Gallery Magnus Karlsson in Stockholm, and by David Zwirner Gallery in New York. Mamma Andersson resides in Stockholm.

Mamma Andersson was interviewed by Marie Laurberg in March 2021 in connection with her solo exhibition ‘Humdrum Days’ at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, Denmark.

Camera: Klaus Elmer
Produced and edited by: Roxanne Bagheshirin Lærkesen
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2021
Supported by Den A.P. Møllerske Fond

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00:00 Intro
00:36 Using black and white photographs
02:33 Materials used in the paintings
06:06 On never showing a gaze
07:20 Inspiration
11:31 On ‘Hypnosis’
14:03 Self-portraits
15:17 Working with the colour black
16:28 Dolls from a crime scene
18:31 Girlhood



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