V1 Gallery is pleased to present

Dirt Bridge
A solo exhibition by Sara-Vide Ericson


Enter the cave. In the Pech Merle caves in the Occitania region of France, you find the magnificent polychrome painting “Dappled / Spotted Horses of Pech Merle”, carbon dated to roughly 25,000 years old. Two horses back-to-back and partly superimposed, four meters long, adorned with numerous hand stencils and abstract markings (for us, for now). Painted directly on the cave walls with black manganese oxide and red ochre, the composition flows with the shape of the cave, becoming one.

The “Spotted Horses” has been greatly debated; Are they naturalistically depicted? Were there spotted horses around 25,000 years ago, or are the dots there for cognitive stimuli and psychological impact? Scholars have argued that they might not serve a descriptive purpose but carry a symbolic meaning and a transcendental connotation, while recent DNA comparisons between Paleolithic and modern horses have confirmed that the spotted gene existed in ancient samples, so the paintings, animals and artist(s) did coexist. A dichotomy? Which takes us to the north of Sweden, into the woods where we find the studio and living space of Sara-Vide Ericson.

Enter the studio. A large painting, 190 x 280 cm, oil on canvas, of a spotted horse, is coming into being. Supernatural Helper depicts an ochre (dry red / dried blood) spotted white horse in roughly the same posture as the horse on the right-hand side of the painting found in the Pech Merle cave in France. It is surrounded by an almost enchanted clearing in the pine woods, the forest floor dotted with luminous yellow and purple flowers. It has its hind legs positioned slightly towards the viewer, the beautifully rendered tail almost visually extrudes from the painting, white silvery light radiates from the breathing body of the powerful animal, while its head is turned away from the viewer, facing the deep darkness of the surrounding forest. The horse is not alone, a thin rope is attached to the halter and continues outside of the picture frame. We are there, in the clearing, in the periphery of the composition.

The atmosphere is mediative, as if between actions, an eternal moment. Ericson completed Supernatural Helper in the weeks following the death of her own horse. The horse in the painting is and is not the horse in the cave, it is, and it is not her horse, and so it is with everything in Ericson’s paintings - it is, and it is not. The paintings are bridges connecting ancient sentiments, the present and the future. Vessels conjuring the strength and stamina of painting history - from cave to present, the primal forces of nature - wild and relentless, the personal and the universal.They encounter us in the moment – vivid, elaborate, raw, enticing, mysterious, demanding, beautiful and empowered. Bridges between seemingly dichotomic shores in both creation and content are interdependent in Sara-Vide Ericson’s work. Brushwork, matter and purpose are one. Mastering and harnessing light like a sorceress, raw intuitive jabs of paint, delicate and precise line work bleeding into the canvas, broad watery strokes. Control and release. Construction and deconstruction. Heavy and ephemeral. Suspenseful and mundane. The 17 paintings in Dirt Bridge are imbued with these seemingly contrasting sentiments. They should not be understood, but rather experienced in a non-dualistic manner. A dissolution of the dichotomy between subject and object. Being in painting.

Enter the studio cave. The following are excerpts from Sara-Vide Ericson’s studio logbook, written during her work with Dirt Bridge.

May 06, 2022

We went out into the forest today. Soon there will be green grass, leaves and shit everywhere. I once tried to explain to a curator why green was so ugly in painting, but I think I didn't even get to the point, because he could not think past my use of the word "ugly". It triggered him, and he became so interested in what was considered ugly that he almost started drooling.

Anyway, if you don't have your material for paintings before the chlorophyll bursts, you're done. And now it's May and the heat warms everything on the surface, everything that's frozen inside, and last year's dead grass is at its most beautiful now. And by that, if you're a curator reading this, I don't mean beautiful as a descriptive word over something external - but as an overarching word for something very ephemeral and internal.

Crunchy, crunchy, warm and cold yellow and blue tones are embedded and intertwined. We went to Svartån (The Black River), to check out the beaver lodge, it smells of beaver everywhere. Rotten, wet wood, wet dirty fur and ass. There is a small delta there and as I balance between the tufts in the little solid ground that exists, suddenly I sink down with my feet into their hollows and passages. The water is golden but chilly.

Once past the beaver lodges and the wetlands on the side of the river, you come to a hanging bridge. When you cross it and are in the middle you almost break the waterline. It takes all your strength to hold your position and not to lose your balance - and that tension holds the story. It’s also a pictorial rhyme of your own journey, once on the island life begins again, but it ends at the same time. (The Passenger and The Island.)

July 03, 2022

The crayons in the studio become more and more important, they give me something that oil paint cannot. They are an element of their own and suddenly fill a void of something undefined, unspoken. Where they lie in their ashes, like dry and brittle clods of earth, or thumbs cut from hands in prehistoric graves. Suddenly I have several hands, a royal flush - a whole fluent language for ash, death and earth.

I often think about what an exhibition's title should be, what it should carry and how, what even makes a group of paintings a whole? However, that clear intention is quite often crushed, because the actual question seems to come from the outside, as soon as you beat the beat of the palette knife. Before the paint even touch the canvas. Many say a title should be an umbrella, a dome. Similar to the hollow upper half of a sphere. This exhibition is instead a bridge, a bridge built of earth, dust, and chalk.

Dirt Bridge.

Does it hold for your weight? What do you bind the dirt with to find the strength?

July 08, 2022

Daria died on Monday, she was bludgeoned and bled to death outside the studio. The blood foamed so much that the red turned bright pink, like sea foam. When the butcher came into the studio to wash off his hands and butcher knives in the industrial sink, I showed him the ongoing painting of her. He called me later from the truck and asked if I wanted to keep her skin.

Today I applied white on her whole body in the painting. The fur consists of the white with the deep blood-brown spots, deep brown like the river Voxnan's water - but I added too much white. Various shades, both titanium and zinc. At first, I didn't know if it was good and if I was bold, I thought that was how it should be done, but also, I didn't know if I crossed a line? Easily disturbed, a lot had happened at home; men, children, engines. Hate summer holidays. Had a hard time navigating my inner voice. Also, a little bored, by the responsibility of the task. Thought I was done at lunch and left.

But when Christian and I came down to the studio later, I saw that it was too much white, too thick! The surface was therefore closed, soulless. I panicked, it would dry soon, I had a window of 30 minutes before it was forever too late, and the white pigments would sink in and merge together with the fibres of the canvas. Christian almost made the decision for me, and I knew it had to be done with a spray bottle and white bed sheets. We wiped off the white colour, her fur, hard, drastically, wilfully. It was difficult to manoeuvre when the painting and Daria's body are so large. Christian assisted me, holding up the fabric and pressing it to the canvas, the second after I wet the oil paint with solvent, but before it started to run. I stroked the fabric hard, picking up all the unnecessary colour with my hands through the linen. I dressed her in the sheet, and in that way, turned off the light. It got better and the cloth's own bare raw colour suddenly pulled through the white fur and began to shimmer. The body became hollow and took shape. The negative print, the dead colour left an imprint on the sheet which Christian held up and smiled at, I've seen a thousand of those, so I don't care anymore, but sure, it's fun.

July 13, 2022

Had a good struggle with the horse painting (Supernatural Helper), it should be ready soon, but I can't see where to tie it together!! It is darker than usual, the light is briefer, shorter, and it stops to glow before it hits the outer border of the painting. Tore my hair and everything felt grey. Tough, the hours go by, nothing happens, the light doesn't fall into place. But it is important. I want to escape but I’m kept in a small cage with prison bars of colour: But I will push this until it falls into place. It's a certain silvery darkness in the leaves I'm looking for. And an illuminated darkness, dull, a dark romanticism. I want to believe. Nick Cave lives in this painting! In the afternoon I finally gave up and treated myself with painting a euphoric little landscape with a nude in front, stretched out in front of a puddle. It's outside the beaver’s lodge. It fell into place in an hour, and it was lovely, I feel like I have human dignity again. Cobalt blue and transparent iron oxide yellow, and little else, in perfect harmony (Wave Breaker).

August 26, 2022

The Train came to the studio today. There was never an occasion, with that painting, where an abyss widened between us. We were following the whole time, restrained, but I'd be lying if I didn't admit I was a bit high on her elegance. Right from the start. She would be so unstoppable, barefoot with dirty feet. Dirty white by stone dust, impossible to wash off afterwards. The dry pigment marries so well with the oil of the skin, isn’t that the first colour ever made?

But the most important thing is the sediments of soil and history, she pushes through; time and herself. Dressed as Mother Courage, in a ravine, or between pressing crusts, she rushes forward. Driven by steam through unburnt umber, ochre, ultramarine, and a bead of brilliant rose. All that sorrow in the segment of the earth around her burning head, flows down behind and becomes like a mantle of blue. Elevated, yet fallen, as if oozed from the earth's crust. A strong contrast to her transparent skin and red hair. Actually, she too is beautiful, I never paint them that beautiful, but she's not me, she's someone else, she's time, and time just left the station!

Exit the cave on to the Dirt Bridge.

- Text by Jesper Elg & Sara-Vide Ericson.

Sara-Vide Ericson, born 1983, Sweden, Lives and works in Hälsingland, Sweden. Recent exhibitions include Ditch Dance, Kulturhuset, Stockholm, Sweden; Ditch Dance, Skellefteå Konsthall, Sweden, Interior Ambush at The Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Stockholm, Sweden; Interior Ambush, Kalmar Konstmuseum, Kalmar, Sweden; Interior Ambush, Hälsinglands museum, Hudiksvall, Sweden; The Marsh Report, Bror Hjorts Hus, Uppsala, Sweden and The Trees, Light Green, Landscape Painting – Past and Present, Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm, Sweden. Dirt Bridge is her fifth solo exhibition with V1 Gallery / Eighteen. A catalogue documenting the process and exhibition will be available this fall.