The thick hair hiding the personalities in Erik Sandberg’s paintings may not be opaque at all, the growth speaking and representing volumes of its own. This exploration of our oft-derided animal nature reminds us that even in a sterilized and epilated world, body hair and fur have an allure of their own.

How would you describe your process of creating your artworks? 

My process usually starts by writing random notes on my phone, collecting random images and textures that I see in my daily experiences. Over time, directions and ideas for new pieces begin to formulate and emerge. Once I have a direction, I tend to circle into the studio work and then embark on a series of long unhealthy painting marathons—technology aids in the visual planning of the work and construction of certain assets.

Your humans, if I can call them that, are usually covered in soft fur. What is the reason? Does this “fluff” have any connection with their character? 

The figurative treatments reflect the ideas I’m thinking about bringing into the work. Whether it be comments about perceived persona, love in the modern age, the impact of consumer culture. The hair began as a symbolic vehicle for describing the effects of populace culture. There is a softness that the hirsutism and fur textures communicate, which informs the language of the paintings. These figurative elements refer to contemporary personas found in digital environments and observations from daily life. The figures within the images are not specific individuals, more of a visual signifier of various identities.

Are there any particular stories behind your human-animal friendship in your paintings? If yes, can you tell us some details or share some of the stories with our readers? 

The paintings are non-narrative-based. The figurative elements come from various sources, including contemporary advertising, daily observations, media, and imagination. Some of the aesthetic figurations are derived from vintage cookie jars. It was the idea of a shiny vessel with unknown contents that seemed apropos for some of the paintings.

There are some dreamlike places in your paintings, are they inspired by real places you have visited, or are they part of the story happening in the painting? 

The soft, dreamlike environment of the paintings is an echo of living and working out of Los Angeles. The California dreaming vibe has been a recurring character in my work over the past few years. There is a visual comfort communicated with the color of the light in Los Angeles and the soft figurative textures. I’ve been thinking about it in the newer works and am trying to investigate more.

Are you currently preparing any exhibitions or projects we can look forward to? 

Yes, there are a few exhibitions on the schedule for 2022. A group exhibition at Galleri 47 March 4th – 25th, Næstved, Denmark, and a solo exhibition September 3rd – 24th at ThinkSpace Projects, Culver City, California, USA.

Within the framework of our current theme, “Who Let the Dogs Out,” what animal would you like to have as a lifetime companion (could be realistic or fantastic)?

For a lifetime companion, it’s hard not to choose a good dog, but having Pegasus in the backyard would probably save on fuel and time in traffic.

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Erik Mark Sandberg is an artist and academic working out of Los Angeles, California. His paintings, sculptures, and printmaking works investigate issues around the mechanics of consumer culture and love in the modern-day. The images create a painterly space of psychological dimensions between the natural environment and the ersatz reality of the digital realm.


Arworks / Erik Mark Sandberg @erikmarksandberg

Interview / Markéta Kosinová

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