Color Field
Erik Gustafsson


Erik Gustafsson (b. 1987) is a photographer and printmaker based in Gothenburg, Sweden. He explores the medium’s material possibilities and limitations and also draws upon its related phenomenological questions of being. Since getting his BFA from Valand Academy, he was nominated for the C/O Berlin Talent Award: “New Documentary Strategies” and has participated in numerous exhibitions and international festivals such as Röda Sten Konsthall, Gothenburg (2018), Fotografiska, Stockholm (2018), Athens Photo Festival, Benaki Museum (2018) Galleri Thomassen, Gothenburg (2019), Nordic Light Festival, Kristiansund (2019) and 3:e Våningen, Gothenburg (2019).

MELK is proud to present the first solo show at MELK by Swedish artist Erik Gustafsson titled Color Field.

Gustafsson presents a new series of luminograms, original imprints created by rays of light, exposed directly on to light-sensitive paper in the darkroom. An alternative universe unfolds in which the raw impressions of the photographic process and performativity of light are depicted. The result is a photograph without reference to anything but itself and its coming into being. The luminogram process is as elementary as photography gets, and yet, these works might seem foreign in a photographic context. As such the works raise questions about the nature of the photograph and how it can materialize and operate in the world.

Alongside the luminograms are works created with the use of a camera. The photographs show portraits and places of more or less insignificant importance, fragments of the photographer’s life. Pressing the shutter release is just one step in the creation of the work. In the darkroom Gustafsson, turns the space into a camera, continuing to add layers of light during the printmaking process. The flat surface of the paper absorbs these layers and creates an uncertain depth within the image. Every act of added creation demands the destruction of the original photograph and becomes a way to embrace the dual identity of our human nature, both as creator and destroyer.

Through his painterly-like methods and experiments, Gustafsson explores where the limits of photography begin and end, and tries to expand, renew and rethink the modes of photographic understanding. Working with chance and accidents as tools, provides a creative frame insofar as it allows Gustafsson to purposely get lost within the printing process. He refers to Walter Benjamin’s quote «to be lost is to be fully present, and to be fully present is to be capable of being in uncertainty and mystery».

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