Per Mårtensson, Untitled, 2009 © Per Mårtensson / Bildupphovsrätt 2010

Per Mårtensson

From a certain distance, Per Mårtensson’s monumental paintings show lamella curtains of the kind that has become such a commonplace feature in office landscapes that they are virtually invisible. As one moves through the room, however, the painting transforms into an abstract image where light, vertical strips dance against black, or where black blocks lie in front of, and obscure, a white, shimmering light.

The illusory effects are achieved with conscious bilingualism in Mårtensson’s painting. He is fascinated by depiction, by the play of light and darkness, by spatiality and depth. At the same time, however, he speaks a more conceptual painterly language that seeks to explore the mechanism of seeing. His paintings become hybrids between photorealism and abstraction, forever oscillating between two radically different temperaments.

The painting in eight sections was created specifically for the site of The Moderna Exhibition, almost as though it were a wall painting. In Mårtensson’s oeuvre, the work and the space it is shown in are inseparable. The images become an extension, or distortion, of the space, while the space adds new dimensions to the paintings.

Per Mårtensson joins a long tradition of artists who engage in visualising the exhibition space, the white cube, and examining how it influences our perception of art. At the same time, his work in this context is a veritably rebellious tribute to the tradition and medium of painting. Although he bases his works on the imagery of past eras and fills them with a myriad of references, the final result is a highly personal and forward-looking exploration of the potential of painting itself.

Per Mårtensson

Born 1969 in Malmö
Lives and works in Malmö


1995–1997 Konsthögskolan i Malmö/Malmö Art Academy, Malmö
1992 Konstskolan i Kristianstad

Selected solo exhibitions

2010 Galerie Zink, München/Munich [DE]
2009 Färgfabriken, Stockholm
2009 Elastic, Malmö

Selected group exhibitions

2010 El Gabinete Blanco/The White Cabinet, Mexico D.F [MX]
2009 Evidences of the Paranormal, Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery, New York [US]
2009 This is the score, part II, Elastic, Malmö

Selected bibliography

Elena Tzotzi, ”Per Mårtensson”, www.frieze.com/shows/review/per_martensson/, 2009
Sebastian Johans, ”Hänförande Mårtensson på Färgfabriken”, Uppsala Nya Tidning, 2009-12-29.
Katarina Wadstein Macleod, ”Konsthistorien går igen”, Svenska Dagbladet, 2009-12-11.

More about this exhibition