Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The enigma of artmaking

This one took a while before it fell into place. I really had to rub it out of the canvas. Yet when it started to yield I could feel it come together. When that happens, that a painting "arrives" in a way which you could never have foreseen, it feels really weird and magical.

'Birds Flapping - Tune of Change' - Acrylics on canvas - 55x46 cm - Niklas J Brandow

The Rule of Red

I was happy to see another red painting take shape in my studio. Since I work in a very intuitive fashion I don't really get to decide these things. Red is a very sensitive colour which can easily become too much and break up the balance of a piece. In this case I think we're okay. I'm not sure what this image means, if it has a meaning at all, but the shapes and colours made me go for a pretty title.

'Love Ascend' - Acrylics on canvas - 50x61 cm - Niklas J Brandow

Monday, March 19, 2018

A very nice feeling

In the beginning of February something happened when I was working in my studio. I sensed an inner shift of sorts which I believe changed my approach to painting. As an artist I would say that I am now more fearless, not as easily charmed, and my darlings now drop dead in deep mass graves of paint. ; )

I guess I have come to a point where painting is so every day that I no longer need to protect the results of my work, and that freedom (to destroy) enables me to take my creations further. That's what it feels like anyway. It somehow makes the work of painting richer and more enjoyable. I feel as if I'm able to work myself deeper into the canvas, making it give up another level of its secrets.

This is the first piece made since whatever happened. I call it Awakened Lands.

'Awakened Lands' - Acrylics on canvas - 81x65 cm - Niklas J Brandow

New Constructions

I've been negligent when it comes to updating this blog. It's time to change that, especially since I paint a lot more now than ever. Here is a piece that's a bit different from most of my work. It was made especially for the office of a construction company so I decided to go with harder and more geometrical forms, which I think worked well in this case, and it was very well received. I made it the spring of 2017.

'Hills to Houses' - Acrylics on wood panel - 150 60 cm - Niklas J Brandow

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Make for thyself another Kingdom

A new piece worthy of display, made in the strange autumn of 2015.

'Make for thyself another Kingdom' - Acrylics on Canvas - 92x73 cm - Niklas J Brandow


'Mountainspark I' - Acrylics on wood panel - 60 x 150 cm - N Brandow

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Chaos which we can handle

Chaos which we can handle we call order... or is it the other way around?
This is a new piece. Of course there is harmony.

'Floods Return' - Acrylics on Canvas - 65 x 54 cm - Niklas J Brandow

Friday, May 8, 2015

Sacrificing paint


No, I'm not giving up painting, as the title of this blogpost might suggest. Rather, I'm spending more time with it again. Having made a lot of digital illustration lately I'm pleased to be pushing physical paint about again.

So, this is the first of a few new paintings which I'm sincerely happy about. There is something in this one that I've been waiting for. I can't put it into words, but it has to do with how the gaze is moved around by the forms and colours; How I can't find real rest in there, and yet is captured enough to keep looking. In short; I find this painting interesting to behold. It challenges me, while keeping me sufficiently entertained. There is a balance in the mess which stimulating to watch. Don't ask me why.

'Sacrificing Paint' - Acrylics on Canvas - 65 x 54 cm - Niklas J Brandow

Thursday, March 12, 2015

A more rewarding perspective on Life (Livet - ett fruktsammare perspektiv)

About 12 years ago, something silent but transformative happened to me as I walked across a busy square in Gothenburg city. It immediately changed my outlook on life, and clarified so many things for me. I can't really describe what happened, but I have made a few attempts at describing how my perspective on life looks from that moment. This is probably the best one:

The book - Livet: Ett fuktsammare perspektiv - is in Swedish, and I received it from the printer's today. The text itself was written in 2009 but has remained in digital form until I was given a grant from Stiftelsen Mäster Eckehart-sällskapet, to print the thing. It is a 112 pages philosophical book with a spiritual tone, written in an accessible language which should agree with the rational spirit of our time.

If you're interested in a copy you can order it from Bokus, or you can write me an email with your name and address. If you live in Sweden you will then (shortly) receive a book and an invoice in the mail. The price is 130 SEK including shipping. If you live elsewhere I will send you an invoice with a corresponding price in US dollars, but add a sum for the shipping.

The first 19 pages of the book can be previewed HERE

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Journey of Color

'Play of the Fields' - Acrylics on board (Ikea table tops) - 186 x 90 cm - Niklas J Brandow

On display at Värrmlands Museum (Karlstad, Sweden) October 4 - November 2, as part of 'Höstsalongen' (Autumn Salon)

Monday, August 12, 2013

Doors and Fates

Every stroke of the brush influence the outcome of the rest. Someone producing an exhibition sees your paintings and wants you to join the show. Someone arranges an art camp, and new motions are energized. I tend to look upon art as the natural expression of human beings. Trees, receiving the impressions of sunlight and water, express leaves. We are thrown into life and express art. We have always done so. It is our foot prints as a species. It is all very beautiful and simple, like most things are, if we dare let them be.

Art opens doorways to new impressions. Just like leaves can nourish animals of many kinds, art can nourish us. It becomes part of the great wheel, producing new dreams, and crushing others. This is a new piece of mine. I call it Doors and Fates. I see many beautiful paths, but the body is limited to one at a time.  

'Doors and Fates' - Acrylics on Canvas - 81 x 64 cm - Niklas J Brandow

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Grand Adventure

The idea of having a picture before me (or in my head) and forcing the painting to look like it has never really been my cup of tea. Though that struggle may be very rewarding in many ways, I have always preferred the adventure of not knowing where the journey ends, at all. When I paint, I'd like the paintings to surprise me, and they often do – occasionally even in a positive way.

The most adventurous thing I know is to walk a forest path without knowing where it ends. Those who did that in a time when we knew less about the world must have found it fantastic. The possible imaginary outcome of following a trail today is somewhat limited compared to what it was like in the middle ages, or even earlier. Just the notion of being in the woods, not knowing for sure, which kinds of beasts (or trolls?) lives there, is thrilling. I'm typically very satisfied with beholding the variation of plants wherever my steps take me, but the element of surprise is certainly a nice bonus.

Generally though, I think adventure is a state of mind, much more than exotic events and locations. It is an openness, I feel – an excitement of experience which comes when one is able to not take things for granted, and dare let go of control. Adventure is about being present and not constantly anticipating the next moment. When there is no plan, all moments look fresh. Well, something like that, anyway.

This one may be a little saturated on information, but I enjoy it anyway. It is 'The Grand Aventure'.

'The Grand Adventure' - Acrylics on Canvas - 100 x 81 cm - Niklas J Brandow
'The Grand Adventure' - Acrylics on Canvas - 100 x 81 cm - Niklas J Brandow (Sold)

Clicking the image for a closer encounter is highly recommended.

Friday, September 7, 2012

I spy, with my little eye...

I never really decided to do abstract art. It was just something that happened as I opened up the doors and welcomed what I found there. For that reason, I don't mind when people see things in my work, and it is no problem when obvious figures appear, among the otherwise nameless forms. I try to be as honest and simple as I possibly can, and if that means saturated pinks and kittens, then so be it.

This piece has one such element, which several viewers have spotted. I'm not sure if it is coincidental, or in line with my sub- or unconscious will of expression. Can you also see it in there? ...and if you can, do you find it disturbing or helpful?

I call this piece 'Sounded his Trumpet'.

'Sounded his Trumpet' - Acrlics on Canvas - 54 x 65 cm - Niklas J Brandow
'Sounded his Trumpet' - Acrlics on Canvas - 54 x 65 cm - Niklas J Brandow (Sold)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Contemporary as Hell!

One saying, which is doubtlessly true, is that; The brain is like a sponge. It sucks up and is filled with whatever surrounds it. With a little self-analysis it is quite evident that one's thoughts, tastes, and preferences are shaped by the milieu in which one spends time.

So, we currently have this thing called contemporary art, which is a label as strange and illogical as modern, and post-modern art. The good thing about art today is that artists can deal with all subjects and all techniques, and pretty much get away with it. Though there are certainly limitations in most cultures, artists world-wide have at their disposal more diverse tools, subjects, and arenas than ever before. What I find regrettable though, is that the label 'contemporary art' seems to impose a certain number of restrictions upon the art welcome in the contemporary arena.

One gets the feeling that (regardless of the very diverse materials and subjects) we have limited the contemporary epithet to a certain style or expression. I can't really put it in words, but it is evident to me, as I browse the contemporary scene (at least in northern Europe), that what I see looks a certain way. So called contemporary galleries show specific styles of art. They show painting, sculpture, video, installation, happenings, events, and all sorts of techniques for sure, but no matter what kind of art they exhibit, it is kept within a certain frame of expression, which seems to have remained the same for quite some years now.

If I take the beginning of this post into consideration, and include the natural tendency of human beings to find a sense of belonging, it seems we have ended up with a self-feeding, self-repeating kind of contemporary art culture, which is far from as inventive and “post-post-modern” as it would like to be.

I personally enjoy hoping, that by now, we have the ability to move beyond fashion and style in the world of art, to welcome all kinds of contemporary expression under the label of 'contemporary', or even better, no label at all. The strength of these times is a broadened acceptance and openness for the great variety and possibilities of human expression. We are moving beyond the tribal consciousness of the past, and into a new kind of freedom. Simultaneously some groups seem to have decided that “contemporary” looks and is a certain way... and unless you perform your song in this particular dialect, you are not really a contemporary artist (according to them), which is no less than saying; you do not fit in this moment or age. 

My question is naturally, how can you not be a contemporary artist, living now? Surely, if you do not dwell in the blogs, magazines and exhibitions of late very often, your brain will not learn (ape) this language, and your artistic expression will look unfashionable or simply strange to the regulars, no matter how good an artist you are.

Art should be an expression from the impression of life, primarily, I believe. Much of the art I see, seem to be the result of other people's art (rather than life) and that makes it art-ificial in my opinion.

Looking at my own art, I wonder if people think of it as contemporary? Perhaps some do, but I suspect most do not. The question, I think, is a failure in itself. To understand and communicate with this contemporary time and culture, we must look at all the ideas, expressions, and styles of all kinds of artists alive today. All these are the contemporaries. The contemporary is not a wish to find something which hasn't been before, or to escape the past. Nor is it a certain style which appeared a decade or two ago. The contemporary is – or should be – all the voices rising naturally out of the current climate.

There, for example, I see a man painting icons exactly like they did centuries ago. He does it now, because now it is meaningful to him. He isn't imitating the past because he has failed to recognize the present. He does it as a direct result of his contemporary culture. The stress and consumerism of today brought him to it. It is not an escape but a work and a voice. That is as contemporary as it gets – a natural expression of current impressions. If he did the same motifs, for the same reason, but with the dyed seeds of genetically modified corn, or on the green surface of Las Vegas game tables, he might actually be welcome, but his deep, genuine commitment, devotion and skill is hardly taken into account. It simply isn't “contemporary” enough... by some people's ideas of what contemporary art is supposed to be, or look like. In that way they limit and choke our breathing. Thus they make sheep out of lions.

Please, Mr Artworld, whoever you are, remove these masks behind which you have been hiding for so long. If that means you can no longer reinvent yourself to a salable concept, then so be it. It is time you expose your simplicity, and lay bare your entire rainbow of wonder.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Heart of Art

As I had finished this painting, knowing it was done, I was sort of unimpressed by it. A few days later my mind had changed and I started to enjoy it quite a lot. I'm not sure how well it comes through here, but there is a sober calm over this piece, which attracts me. Like most of my work it contains a lot of visual information, but it is comparatively still. Also, the dominating blue colors make for a certain peacefulness. I personally had to look at it for a few days before it spoke to me. What kind of time can you spare? ; )
'Protectors of the Heart' - Acrylics on Canvas - 81 x 100 cm - Niklas J Brandow
'Protectors of the Heart' - Acrylics on Canvas - 81 x 100 cm - Niklas J Brandow

 Click to enlarge.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Turning colors into gold

Elements come together to make worlds. Isn't that strange? The conditions for life on this planet are perfect, because it was the conditions themselves that summoned life from the soil and waters.

Colors, in the hands of man, turn into art, and art then turns into? Conflict? Self-knowledge? Another level of consciousness? Its uses are many, of course. Provoke a new order into being, or question yourself into nihilism? Entertain us into stupidity, or enthrall us with the wizardry of beauty?

Whom or what do you make these colors serve? Are you perhaps serving them? As simple organisms evolve into more complex ones through mutation, do colors and art transform too? Is art perhaps a mere, inevitable out-breath? Must it be more than that?

Many questions today obviously. Those of you who have read a bit about alchemy, know that the physical work and ambitions of the laboratory, also had a parallel spiritual counterpart. Seeking the the quintessense (also known as the fifth element, or the philosopher's stone), was not just the material matter of turning things into gold, but also a deeper mental or spiritual mystery. The single-minded laborious work and concentration on the enigma of all things, could bring about results apart from the chemical ones, and these seemed to be equally valued by the alchemists.

So too, I find the work on the canvas to be but a reflection of what goes on in the studio. Artistry is not mainly about making paintings (or songs etc), and even if that is what we initially set out to do, the potentials of staring at artwork in progress are far more interesting.

This one is called 'New Era Alchemy'.

'New Era Alchemy' - Acrylics on Canvas - 60 x 40 cm - Niklas J Brandow
'New Era Alchemy' - Acrylics on Canvas - 60 x 40 cm - Niklas J Brandow (Sold)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Destiny of Color

Occasionally, as I give myself over to the brush and the canvas, something remarkable happens. From stroke one it feels as if the brush (Sorry God, no credit this time) knows what is about to happen. It feels as if it has a plan that I'm completely unaware of. I just allow it to move about, and do my best to keep up with where it is going. Be it some unconscious idea of mine, or other more mysterious powers involved.... I have no clue. What I can tell you for sure, is that I feel disconnected to what takes place before my eyes.

It is not like some spirit is forcing my hand about, but as I allow it to move freely, it surprises me at every turn. From stroke one, it seems to set its plan in motion. Yes, I realise this may sound big-time crazy, but I don't really mind. I'm just very fascinated by it, and it is also a way of introducing this next painting, which painted itself, all the way to the last stroke. It is simpler and not as dense as much of my other work. Perhaps even a bit sketchy. Still, I'm sure it is finished.

Sadly, I didn't here no voice telling me what to name the piece, so I had to settle with 'Where Sunlight Gathers'. I hope it will suffice.

'Where Sunlight Gathers' - Acrylics on Canvas' - 100 x 81 cm - Niklas J Brandow
'Where Sunlight Gathers' - Acrylics on Canvas' - 100 x 81 cm - Niklas J Brandow

I have heard the Surrealists experimented with automatic writing and so forth, and I'm sure most experienced artist have had some hightly intuitive or automatic moments, in their crafts. One can guess that, when the conscious awareness and thinking processes take a break, the subconscious and/or fully unconscious mind takes over (fully or partly). We're all great artists while we dream at night.

If this piece is better than my other paintings, is up to the beholder. For me, it is one of the more mysterious pictures "I" have made. I hope you enjoy it. As always, click to enlarge.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Inner Fun Palace

When we hear the word fun, I suppose we tend to think primarily about things like parties, roller-coasters, and silly faces. There are however a lot of other things and activities around, which may be regarded as great fun. Though painting rarely bring about hysterical laughter, it can be seriously enjoyable and truly fun work. It can also cause pleasant bodily sensations of well-being and happiness.

Of course, painting can also be very frustrating and stressful at times. It all depends on how one approaches the work at hand, and what kind of hopes and ambitions we bring into it. When it comes to my personal results - the finished paintings - I rarely find them amusing to behold. They might be entertaining, or in other ways stimulating to look at, but I don't intentionally work with humor.

Some pieces however, like the one below, hold a somewhat lighter air, and seem more playful than others - at least to my eyes. Perhaps they even make me a little happy to watch? If you labelled them childish I wouldn't disagree... at least not entirely.

So welcome now to my inner Fun Palace. Let's play for a while, shall we?

Inner Fun Palace - Acrylics on Canvas - 100 x 81 cm - Niklas J Brandow
Inner Fun Palace - Acrylics on Canvas - 100 x 81 cm - Niklas J Brandow (Sold)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Druids at Rackstadmuseet?

Good news! Two of my paintings were selected to be shown at Höstalongen (Autumn Art Salon) at Rackstadmuseet in Arvika, beginning the 29th of September. Lots of other artists from Värmland will have their work on display, so I'm sure it will be worth a visit. More on that later, I suppose.

For now, I'm posting another new painting, which I call the Druid's Dream. Not that I see any druids in there, but the many greens and browns suggested this romantic sort of title. Something is happening again, and it might as well be some spirits of nature swirling something else, don't you think?

Druid's Dream - Acrylics on Canvas - 46 x 61 cm - Niklas J Brandow
Druid's Dream - Acrylics on Canvas - 46 x 61 cm - Niklas J Brandow (Sold)

Yes, I know it is just fields of paint, but the mind is persistent with trying to make sense of the information. That is one of the great aspects of non-figurative art, I think; That the mind is free to play with what it gets. In this uncertainty of forms and colours, it might even surrender and quiet down for a while, to just look for a few moments. Don't let the title limit your perception. Who knows what druids dream of anyway?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Bread from the mountains

When I behold my images I see events. I rarely know what kind of events they are, but something is happening here, and it is taking place in the mountains. Forces come together and... what? Perhaps nature is happening? Elemental forces merging and crashing against each other to create a world, just like the many colors combine to make a painting - or even a work of art on a good day.

'In the Mountains' - Acrylics on Canvas - 61 x 50 cm - Niklas J Brandow
'In the Mountains' - Acrylics on Canvas - 61 x 50 cm - Niklas J Brandow

When the forms and colors interact they aim for a kind of balance, and when that balance draws near, I feel a deepened sense of presence, and the beauty which is born resounds inside of me. It is almost like a tone becoming distinct from a previous mess of vibrations.

Aesthetics, or art, holds the strange power to alter our moods, and to some level even our mode of consciousness. I don't know how it works, and can only pay witness to it as I make my paintings. To what extent, I wonder, can this fruitful moment of purity (if I may call it that) be communicated to the audience? Do these forms and colors do anything to you?