Ylva Carlgren: Light Implies Shadows

5 May - 12 June 2023

The intimate play of shadow and light has always been a recognizable motif in Ylva Carlgren’s work. In the painstakingly accurate explorations in photorealism with which her career began, this was often expressed through the exquisite representation of translucent materials. In the works comprising Light Implies Shadows however the artist finds a way to eschew the restrictions of objective reference and to approach the phenomenon directly. And by shifting her attention from the actualities of the external world and its objects to the materiality of her own practice, Ylva Calgren has succeeded in imbuing these most recent paintings with an unforeseen brilliance. While it would be convenient to refer to these works as non-representational, it would at the same time be somewhat careless. Although not one of them presents a tableau composed of discernible forms, they nevertheless represent a palpable depth and volume. The perception and feeling of space which these works engender arises not through perspective, but by way of Ylva Carlgren’s astute understanding of the interrelated nature of colour and form. Her development and perfection of techniques not traditionally applied to the medium of watercolour see darkness and light fusing in such a way that the surface of the paper somehow becomes impregnated with an intense luminosity. And it is these feelings of depth and intensity which manage to introduce to the merely finite dimensions of each work an infinite space which the beholder is invited to enter. Despite themselves being unreal, these spaces seep into the reality of the gallery and alter our experience of our immediate surroundings. And while the veritable effulgence of the paintings is already one aspect which brings to mind the work of James Turrell, so too is the way in which they interact with the beholder’s sense of perception. If the eye indeed finds repose in shadow and activity in light, then these latest works by Ylva Carlgren certainly have us vacillating between both of these states. (Text by Nicholas Lawrence)

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