In the studio

Malin Persson

Amsterdam, NL

Interview with
Malin Persson

After her education at the Rietveld Academy and Rijksakademie, Malin Persson (1978, Gränna, Sweden) won the Royal Award for Modern Painting in 2007. In Perssons work landscape and nature beautifully combine with abstraction.

With yellow-greens in combination with black, gray and blue of skies she shows the structures in nature. By placing dark frames and grids the landscape changes - as if you look outside through a frame, window or a stained glass window.

According to Malin Persson, the Swedish landscape embraces you, while the Dutch panorama is open, you look as it were over nature. In the Netherlands, the landscape for her consists of lines, the horizon, the lines of air and water.

We asked Malin Persson about her work and the special edition she made for Akzo Nobel. Hi Malin, which themes are important in your work?

I am fascinated by the landscape. Probably because I grew up in a village where nature was always present. I prefer to visit places with dense forests and untraceable paths.

I paint the landscape because I think the history of the landscape is important. I spent a lot of time in the forests of Sweden. Images of rain and sunlight can be found in my work by making abstract images of it. I often paint from a photo that reminds me of special moments.

Untitled (2010), 50 x 65 cm, AkzoNobel Art Collection
Night meet Sunset (2007), 50 x 60 cm, AkzoNobel Art Collection

Where did you grow up, where were you trained as an artist?

I was born and raised in Gränna, a small village in Sweden. I lived there until I was 16 and moved to Jönköping to study Art and Culture at the Per Brahe Gymnasium (a high school). After that I had the choice to study further in art and decided to go to Örebro Art School. For me it was a good education and it felt natural to delve into painting and further develop my talent.

I applied at the Royal Academy of Art in Stockholm and the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam and was accepted at both academies. I decided to go abroad and started on the Gerrit Rietveld. In 2003 I got my degree as Bachelor of Arts and in 2006 I was admitted as Resident Artist at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam.

Vattenstrom (2005), 200 x 180 cm, AkzoNobel Art collection

Can you tell us about how you start new work?

I often use a photo or image as a basis. It is an instrument to bring my memories to life and to generate a feeling. It is not the intention to copy the photo. I use it as a map, which helps me find my way back to different places and memories.

In recent years I never painted my images directly on a white primed background. The first coat is usually ink or diluted oil paint. Sometimes it takes days or weeks before I start painting the picture. The painting then takes shape and develops during the process. I work both abstract and figurative. It is important to me that I stick to my own reality and not try to paint the reality of others. For me, abstraction and figuration are linked.

The view from the island I (2017), 24 x 30 cm

What does your average working day look like?

My working days differ. I try not to force myself to go to the studio. Then my thoughts stagnate. When I'm in a flow, I work best early in the morning. My paintings consist of layers of paint and there is a lot of time between each layer of paint. It takes a long time before I reach a final result and I therefore divide my week into different periods.

Can you describe your studio for us?

My studio has beautiful light coming in through two high windows, which has a good effect on me. I sometimes spend days just looking at a painting. When I don't actively paint for a while, I study and analyze my work.

What material do you like to work with?

I often use ink, gouache and oil paint on linen. I work with quite a traditional palette. Since I understand more of the painting of the Dutch 17th century, I am more aware of painting. Like mixing color; the landscape does not consist of tubes of greens. Grass and leaves are painted in brown tones by the Old Masters. They used a very limited palette. Everyone reaches for a tube with green paint in the artwarestore, unless they know their history and gain more understanding and discover that there is no pure green in the landscape. There are only many shades of brown.

For me, color is everything. I think it is important to take a tube of green every now and then to find out how easily you can kill a painting or keep it alive. There are times when you experiment with different techniques, mediums and effects. Every experience is educational.

What do you strive for in your work? When is a work finished for you?

I am looking for the "right" balance between shape and color. It is a process between me and work. Some paintings take longer than others.

Can you tell something about the work from the Akzo Nobel art collection Tidig Morgon - Early Morning?

Tidig Morgon - Early Morning is a mirror image of a memory from the past. The work emphasizes the relationship between man and nature. Light from two different sources; the sunlight and artificial light. I don't know what happens in the house, but I take you to a place where people just wake up and the animal nightlife falls asleep.

Malin Persson works in a former school in the centre of Amsterdam.
Study of the landscape, Calm Landscape (2001), 31 x 41 cm, AkzoNobel Art Collection

You can order this special AkzoNobel art edition by Malin Persson in the webshop.
Malin Person, Tidig Morgen, Early Morning (2009/2020), 31,8 x 23,9 cm
Edition 50, each print has unique handmade additions with black and silver ink.
Price: € 275 | In a custom made white frame with artglass: € 390

Special edition for sale of Malin Persson