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Richard Griffith Carlsson

by Björn Springfeldt

All of humanity’s modes of expression can be compared to games with sets of rules, and without these agreements, all communication would be impossible. Within every regulatory system of rules, we can eitherchoose to adopt a position of acceptance or strive for freedom.

Early on, as a student of painting at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Stockholm, Richard Griffith Carlsson discovered that what he found to be the most tempting challenge was not the colour spectrum but rather the nuances. What an unexpectedly broad range emerges when a colour is propelled from light to dark, and fine-tuned to the point of almost emanating an inner light! Here an entirely different analysis and painterly practice comes into play than when a red meets a yellow and clear boundaries arise.  From a purely procedural perspective, this involves an uncanny level of sensitivity regarding the gaze, and a painstaking effort with regard to the modulation of colour, which might appear to block all possibility of spontaneity and improvisation. That painting would be limited to an intellectual act, lacking in all the unforeseen possibilities offered by intuition and the haphazard.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Within these self-assigned limitations Richard Griffith Carlsson aims at achieving maximal freedom. Not by relaxing the rules, but by pressing against the boundaries. How the figures take shape and are positioned on the surface in his abstract painting depends on visual impressions from his surrounding environment and an openness with regard to that which occurs at a given moment. And this is vital for Richard Griffith Carlsson – that the image does not emerge through a fixed programme, but rather through a process. His painting clearly reflects this approach, without ever being overly obvious.

The paintings thus become fields through which the gaze can wander. Fields that widen the more one takes the time to engage in a slow observation. Here one encounters a personal voice and takes part in an original experience.

Art is born of art, and contact with other artists is of decisive importance. As a means of counterbalancing the loneliness of studio work, Richard Griffith Carlsson started granting himself access to the studios of respected colleagues. Through the use of brush and ink, and photographic originals rendered void of people as his starting point, their spaces open up on the paper. We do not meet the fellow artists in person, but through their environments. Thus he visits the studios of Caspar David Friedrich, Whistler, Monet, Cézanne, Brancusi, Duchamp, Calder, Giacometti, Rothko, Bacon and Ruscha, artists he constantly converses with. The time gap is transcended – all becomes current.

Hence Richard Griffith Carlsson takes on the dual polarity of art, the abstract and realistic, the poetic and the narrative, and achieves yet another perception of time. Not the camera’s freezing of a fragmented instance, but a considerably longer flow. A flow springing from the artistic process; from the sensitivity of the human gaze and the inquisitive knowledge of the hand.

The result is totally unique – yet highly communicative.

[Excerpt from the book Workspaces-Dialogues]