Critics’ Picks

Ida Ekblad, SLUMS OF PARADISE, 2020, oil on linen, 71 x 55".

Ida Ekblad, SLUMS OF PARADISE, 2020, oil on linen, 71 x 55".


Ida Ekblad

Peder Lund
Tjuvholmen allé 27
November 14, 2020–February 13, 2021

In SLUMS OF PARADISE (all works 2020), one of seven new paintings in Ida Ekblad’s show “Slice of the Inaccessible,” a white net seems to have captured a jumble of swirling red, black, and green patterns. The paint is applied with thick impasto, leaving deep brush marks as well as an oil-stained shadow on the unprepared canvas.

Ekblad’s art possesses a gluttonous appetite for visual culture, and the above-mentioned net is an apt analogy for her paintings’ wide reach, if also their arresting effect on the viewer. A small watercolor titled ARTERY WALLS AND OTHER SOFT LIVING TISSUES fuses Matisse-like decoration with blown-up graffiti shapes, while ICE GIRLS offers an extreme close-up of a manga character’s sparkling blue eye. Ekblad’s paintings not only suggest that our visual culture is increasingly nonhierarchal—a shift owed to the explosive image circulation enabled by digital networks—they also tap into the mutable opticality of tablets and smartphone screens. Motifs appear pinched-and-zoomed, so that the contours between shapes, rather than complete figures, are emphasized. The impressions left by the brush on several canvases are lengthy and resemble finger marks, evoking touchscreen swipes.

Ekblad’s previous show in Oslo, her hometown, took place in 2013. Beyond exhibiting internationally, Ekblad has been running Schloss, an exhibition space in Oslo (now seemingly on hiatus) where DIY-fashion and a string of music releases have accompanied the art. The vibrant eclecticism on display in “Slice of the Inaccessible” confers a similarly laid-back attitude to cross-disciplinary pollination. Style is, perhaps now more than ever, instantaneously transferable across modes of expression; where better to fix that energy than in a painting?