Layer upon layer upon layer upon layer; by way of a wash technique Ylva Carlgren sets about meticulously transforming light into dark. It is a process of perfection that sees both artist and material pushed beyond all limits and where – with no conceivable end in sight – the artist’s practice becomes an end in and of itself. But the works that make up 300 Layers are much more than mere exercises in technical excellence. While the debt owed to the Light and Space movement is of course undeniable, there is a manifest proclivity for the affective which – when coupled with a conspicuous longing for the infinite – helps awaken distinct intimations of Romanticism. A deft manipulation of the perceptual field takes place which, rather than relying upon advancements in modern technology, is made possible by the reinvigoration of time-honoured techniques. The ultimate result is a collection of works that are somehow able to excite fervent emotions in complete contradistinction to the delicate and controlled process by which they were brought to life. And they are alive.
Standing before these paintings it is impossible to deny the palpability of their presence as one struggles to escape subjugation by an almost unwelcome gaze. The irrefutable power that they possess only attests to the very fact that despite being completely devoid of meaning – as their Malevich-inspired titles suggest – they are absolutely impregnated with sense. By wholeheartedly relinquishing any and all mimetic pretension, Carlgren opens up for the possibility of a painstaking exploration of the limitations of her medium. Not least of which are perhaps the conventional temporal restrictions which 300 Layers seems to flagrantly disregard as the artist succeeds in fashioning works that are almost of a sculptural character. But the specific physicality of these paintings is certainly more visceral than spatial and, as a result, they ought not to be seen but, rather, to be felt.
– Nicholas Lawrence