Martina Lundström

Growing up in Sweden where the inevitability of ‘outside’ and a certain angle of light would come to inform my belief in art as a medium for making things, I was given, through privilege, access to painting, to the fine arts, that has sustained me throughout my life.

I painted landscapes and still-lifes as a child, abstracted landscapes and the figure as a young adult. None entered or broke through the life I was living. I was performing roles, the role of the daughter, the wife, the young mother.

When I began my MFA, drawing and painting were moving me towards very personal—too personal— imagery, insinuating violence and sexuality that I did not want to pursue. I was not yet ready to make visible my impetus to make work, and painting had been a safe way to express myself—until it was no longer safe. When my painting became illustrative, it stopped working for me. My imagery was transgressive, and I kept myself isolated from the community around me, as I always have. It didn’t work.

To disappear into a work of fiction or a well-curated item in a museum and then to go home to stretch your own canvas that will invariably warp, that is one way to live. Or, more likely, a way to go back to your life and daydream that one day you will have a body of work to show the world. Body, eventually, would turn out to be the key word. Performance offered a completely different entry point.

And yet, painting and performance are alike in fundamental ways. The way paint talks back to you is not unlike how an audience responds. When exhibiting nonfigurative work, I ask that my audience suspend expectations beyond the fact of the rectangular framed flat image on a white wall. When performing, I extend the same invitation to explore their own interiority while resting their eyes on what I am doing. I am just not doing it in the studio but in front of them. Same difference. Live art. There are just so many ways in the world to surface, to become visible, audible.