The Blank Memories Always Open From the South

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  • Provenance

    Stephen Friedman Gallery, London
    Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2002

  • Exhibited

    London, Stephen Friedman Gallery, Mamma Andersson, October 23 - November 23, 2002
    Venice, The Nordic Pavilion, La Biennale di Venezia: The 50th International Art Exhibition, Devil-may-care, June 15 - November 2, 2003, p. 78 (illustrated)
    Stockholm, Moderna Museet; Kunsthalle Helsinki; London, Camden Arts Centre, Mamma Andersson, May 5 - November 25, 2007, n.p. (illustrated)

  • Literature

    Eric Pauli Fylkeson, Hinna före kvällen, Lund, 2003 (detail illustrated on front and back cover)
    Christian Hawkey, "Mamma Andersson by Christian Hawkey", BOMB Magazine, no. 100, July 1, 2007, online
    Who is sleeping on my pillow: Mamma Andersson and Jockum Nordström, exh. cat., David Zwirner, New York, 2010, pp. 158-159 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Featured at the 50th Venice Biennale in 2003, The Blank Memories Always Open From the South, 2002, is one of Karin Mamma Andersson’s largest and most accomplished panoramic landscape paintings. Summoning a commanding presence, the over nine-foot wide canvas presents the vista of an ostensibly Delft or Scandinavian shore, punctuated by a line of ancient buildings. Setting the foundation for her celebrated painting Heimat Land, 2004, the present work marked the breakthrough moment in the painter’s career that preceded her award of the prestigious Carnegie Art Award three years later. A cornerstone work in Andersson’s œuvre, The Blank Memories Always Open From the South was included in the artist’s solo exhibition at the Moderna Museet, Stockholm in 2007 that traveled to the Kunsthalle, Helsinki, and the Camden Arts Centre, London.

    With a nod to the grand tradition of landscape painting, Andersson constructs a sublime and psychologically charged landscape that denotes a vision more dreamlike than real. Grounded in a Scandinavian landscape tradition that encompasses artists such as Ernst Josephson, Edvard Munch and Dick Bengtsson, Andersson’s distinct conceptual painting capitalizes on the conflation of real and fictitious images in a manner that strikes similar tones to Peter Doig's otherworldly paintings. Closer consideration of the present work reveals how Andersson works from appropriated imagery, mostly photographic, as evidenced in the repeated fragments of buildings that unfold akin to a filmstrip, but also in the insertion of Picasso-esque sculptures at the lower right. As art critic Fisun Guner observed, highlighting The Blank Memories Always Open From the South as the standout work in Andersson’s exhibition at the Camden Arts Center, the painting “might resemble a 17th-century Delft landscape were it not for the dilapidated buildings on the horizon and the silhouette of the Picasso sculpture in the foreground. These finely tuned paintings are both dreamily seductive and beautifully melancholic” (Fisun Guner, “Perfectly Packaged Art”, The Standard, October 4, 2007, online).

    Inspired by Nordic painting, photography and cinema, Andersson imbues seemingly familiar landscapes with a sense of the uncanny through her distinct handling of paint, unnatural colors and disorienting perspective. Form eludes content as Andersson meticulously details the ancient buildings’ contours with thin, delicate gestures, and shrouds the sky above and water below in washes of gauzy color. Smoother and hazier than the urban elements they surround, the tiers above and below the horizon take on softer shades: faded yellows, washed out pinks and blues, diffusing an air of mystery throughout. Merging the objectiveness of the camera lens with the subjectiveness of the artist’s hand, Andersson employs a contrejour technique as she turns objects into shadowy forms dimmed by their luminous backdrop — mimicking photography’s capacity to capture light. It is telling that Ann-Sofi Noring employed photographic terms to describe The Blank Memories Always Open From the South, noting how “The moment is freeze-framed. The ridges of cloud are no longer moving, they are as immobile as the breathless water. The view of a possible classical city proves on closer inspection to consist of symmetrical repetitions” (Ann-Sofi Noring, Mamma Andersson, exh. cat., Moderna Museet, Stockholm, 2007, n.p.).

    Andersson’s doubling within this painting – both vertically within the townscape itself, and horizontally in its reflection in the water – is a familiar strategy the artist employs. As American poet Christian Hawkey observed of its effect, “The repetition of mirrored space provides the ghost of a narrative, but one that is open, open-ended, incomplete. It is a space cut in half, a half-space, one that invites the viewer into an awareness that they are positioned…in a between-space, a space between here and there—a theater” (Christian Hawkey, “Mamma Andersson by Christian Hawkey”, BOMB Magazine, July 1, 2007, online). Liminality is key in Andersson’s work. In both her ominous landscapes and staged interiors, Andersson blurs the line between here and there, reality and imagination. As such, The Blank Memories Always Open From the South encapsulates Andersson’s atmospheric, vaguely anachronistic, universe, one in which, as Jennifer Higgie poetically put in a nutshell, "beauty and confusion go hand in hand, and then dance until they’re dizzy” (Jennifer Higgie, “Morning stands on tiptoe”, frieze, Issue 68, June-August 2002, pp. 68-71).

41

The Blank Memories Always Open From the South

signed, titled and dated "The blank memories always opens from South [in English and Swedish] Karin Mamma Andersson 2002" on the reverse
oil on canvas
31 5/8 x 110 3/8 in. (80.3 x 280.4 cm.)
Painted in 2002.

Estimate
$250,000 - 350,000 

sold for $162,500

Contact Specialist
Amanda Lo Iacono
Head of Evening Sale
New York
+1 212 940 1278
aloiacono@phillips.com

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 15 November 2018