Monthly Archives: December 2016

I love graffiti. When I pass a real good graffiti spot I get a thrill I rarely get from museums and art galleries, the thrill of just seeing beautiful composition and colour. It’s more like flipping through a fashion magazine only without the social angst. I have wanted to use graffiti as a method to make abstract images and I wanted to see who else has done that and why. 

Ida Ekblad, Norway

Idas paintings often include graffiti or cartoony looking figures and I always loved them so much. I guess she is working with juxtaposing different visual languages to create new connections.

“I always thought it was so stupid to do graffiti on painting,”she admits. “But maybe because it was so stupid, it was tempting.”/Ida


Ida Ekblad‘s artistic practice incorporates painting, sculpture, performance, filmmaking as well as poetry. Her works transmit a distinct vibrancy and spontaneity, created through the energetic movement of her compositions, the bold application of colour and the attentive use of found materials. Ekblad’s expressive paintings often depict winding and twisted lines, some indicate human-like figures, others resemble landscapes. The forms and gestures found in her work derive from a wide variety of inspirations and art historical references, such as CoBrA, Situationism and Abstract Expressionism but also pop cultural aesthetics like graffiti or cartoon that indicate Ekblad’s genre-crossing approach.


“(…) her oeuvre is slightly akimbo, which is how your legs need to be when you are limbo-ing. Nothing, from the heaviest of scrap-metal objects to the densest of paintings, can sit still. As the gate attests, what matters in Ekblad’s work is passing through. And the journey is a dance.”

“Poetry is key to Ekblad’s work – the song indivisible from the dance. She selects words for their sounds and forms with the recklessness that comes from not writing in your mother tongue.”

“Ekblad treats words roughly, clanging them together, or physically squashing or carving them into things (as in the gravestone-like A Caged Law of the Bird, the Hand, the Land, 2011) to fix them concretely. In the case of the Wagons/Tracks paintings, this technique felt heavy-handed, the problem being that you can’t force poetry into your work no matter how much pressure you apply. Ekblad is great with hard or heavy things, but words are altogether more slippery.”



Jean Michel Basquiat / SAMO

Basquiat started as a graffiti artist (SAMO), became hyped up and centre for a huge art market boom in NYC 1980’s and left the graffiti scene eventually. 

“Jean-Michel Basquiat”, Leonard Emmerling

“I think that the two similarities that Jean and graffiti in general had in common was that people wanted to harness a wild animal. They couldn’t control him and they couldn’t control graffiti. The art world was bland and they wanted something on their wall. Jean-Michel’s work is very anti-art world you know. It’s almost like a curse. Ad people still love that. They love being cursed at.” /Lee Quiones (page 14)

The art scene in the 80’s: The line between high art and trivial culture became even more “porous” than before. the bond between art, music and nightclubs was really strong. All much because of Andy Warhol. (page 8)

Same began as a “lifestyle religion devoid of all ethical substance”. “The SAMO project attacked the speciousness of materialist society. (page 12)



In the area where I used to live in Sweden the walls would occasionally be tagged or painted with graffiti. Since the city of Stockholm has a policy of “zero tolerance” to graffiti, this would quickly be removed. When the paint was sprayed on public walls the “sanitisers” came in big trucks and removed the paint with high pressure-wash and chemicals. However I guess that when the paint was on a private building it was the owners’ responsibility to get it removed. I assume this because the techniques of “sanitation” would differ from house to house and there was this particular house that stood out among the rest.

It was the house next to mine, a typical one for the neighbourhood; built in the 40’s in a functional modern way with a light yellowish facade. Whenever there would be graffiti on the walls they would stay longer than usual (which would let the overall composition develop over time with different taggers and colours) and when they where finally removed, they would paint over them. You would think they would just paint with the original colour reducing all traces (maybe they intended to but the sun had bleached the facade already) however there would always be a contrast between the new colour and the original.

What I am the most fascinated with is that not only  did they paint over the graffiti in a contrasting colour but they where also very sparse with the paint, painting only just where the graffiti was, so that you where able to see exactly where it had been. The painting survived its removal. And I like to think that the artists who took on this wall were not simply shut up but responded to.



Nina Kihlborg

TipEx. I love TipEx.

David Mabb, lecture on January 26th

Mabb worked with overlayering and making new images by reducing another artist’s work.


Genius is not something you are.

“In its earliest meaning in private cult, the genius of the Roman housefather and the iuno, or juno, of the housemother were worshiped. These certainly were not the souls of the married pair, as is clear both from their names and from the fact that in no early document is there mention of the genius or iuno of a dead person. The genius and iuno were probably the male and female forms of the family’s, or clan’s, power of continuing itself by reproduction, which were in the keeping of the heads of the family for the time being and passed at death to their successors. In this as in all forms of his cult, the genius was often conceived as appearing in the form of a snake, although he is also shown in art as a young man, generally engaged in sacrificing. At every wedding a bed, the lectus genialis, was made for the genius and iuno of the husband and wife, and its presence in the house was a sign of matrimony.

Owing to the rise of individualism and also to the prevalence of Greek ideas concerning a guardian spirit, or daimon, the genius lost its original meaning and came to be a sort of personification of the individual’s natural desires and appetites. Hence the phrases indulgere genio, genium defrudare, signifying, respectively, to lead a pleasurable life, and to lead a stingy life. The development, however, did not stop here. The genius came to be thought of as a sort of guardian angel, a higher self; and, as the Greek daimon was sometimes rationalized into the individual’s character or temper, so also the poet Horace half-seriously said that only the genius knows what makes one person so different from another, adding that he is a god who is born and dies with each one of us. This individual genius was worshipped by each individual, especially on his birthday. A few inscriptions even mention the genius of a dead person, as Christian epitaphs sometimes speak of his angel.

To show reverence for the genius of another or to swear by it was a mark of deep respect; hence, it is not unnatural that the genius of Augustus and of his successors formed objects of popular cult. Thus, to worship the genius Augusti avoided affronting the feeling against worshipping any living emperor, which remained fairly strong in Italy; for, of course, all genii were divine and might properly be worshipped.

As with the Greek daimones, there was a vast variety of genii, or guardian spirits—those of places, genius loci, including buildings (genius balneorum, etc.), and of corporations of all sorts, from the state (genius populi Romani) to small bodies of troops, guilds of tradesmen, and so forth. A very curious development is that one sometimes heard of the genius of a god, even of Jupiter, or of the iuno of a goddess.”


Spiritual/artistic technique of First get to practice then be inspired. 

Trance dance is a ritual where shamans dance as women clap the rhythm and sing special medicine songs. The San believe that these medicine songs are full of a supernatural potency. This potency comes from god himself, but it is also in the stomachs of shamans (medicine people).

“The dance can take several forms. Women can sit around a fire and clap while shamans dance, or shamans can dance in the centre while the women stand around them. As the trance dance increases in intensity, the women’s clapping and singing combine with the men’s persistent dancing to cause the potency to ‘boil’ and to rise up the shamans spines. When it ‘explodes’ in their heads, they enter trance.

For the San, trance is the spirit world; it is here that they heal the sick, remonstrate with malevolent spirits, and go on out-of-body journeys. The now-extinct southern San also believed that shamans could make rain and guide antelope herds into the hunters’ ambush. Moreover, the San saw parallels between the behaviour of a dying antelope, especially an eland, and a shaman ‘dying’ (dying is used in a metaphorical sense, meaning to enter the spirit world) in trance.

In  parallels drawn from trance behaviour, shamans and  dying antelope tremble, sweat profusely, stagger, bleed from the nose (RSA WAR1 1R , RSA LOM1 26) lower their heads (RARI RSA GAM1 5R; RARI RSA GAM1 102) and eventually fall unconscious. The San also believed that hair grew in a man in trance, and this feature is also seen on antelopes and on shamans with hair standing on end (RARI RSA GAM1 5R, RARI RSA RSS1 2R, RSA HEL1 2), bleeding from the nose (RARI RSA FET3 5R, RSA WAR3 1R, RARI RSA CAP1 1R, RARI LEE RSA GEE1 16), staggering and lowering their heads. At times in the art, shamans are placed next to a dying eland (RARI RSA WID2 171) because an antelope is believed to release its potency when it dies.

The trance dance is the San’s most important religious ritual, and an understanding of its various features and purposes is an essential key to appreciate the art.”