Agneta Ekholm finds silence in paint

Abstract Expressionist Clyfford Still once said, “No painting stops with itself, is complete of itself. It is a continuation of previous paintings and is renewed in successive ones.” This is the approach Agneta Ekholm takes with her work. Each new painting is a response to the last, a confluence of the past and present. “I always look at my work as a continuous flow,” she says. “I see it as following on from previous works.”

This process is intuitive for Ekholm, who sees where inspiration takes her in layered, abstract canvases that engage with both the formal and technical elements of painting, alongside the organic nature of making marks on canvas. The Finland-born artist’s 25-year practice is a response to the world around her. Having moved from the city to the water in Ocean Grove, Victoria, during pandemic years, Ekholm has found the new setting conducive to creating: “I have become a better artist by being closer to nature and water.”

Agneta Ekholm, Divulge, 2023, acrylic on canvas, 85cm x 150cm.

Such an influence is not necessarily explicit in the output to canvas though. Some paintings echo the vague suggestion of landscape, but much of her work is purely imaginative, something of a dreamscape. The environmental setting is mainly used to offer stillness, so Ekholm can create without distraction. “Silence takes time to learn, to understand and appreciate,” she says. “And it takes time to become silent yourself.”

Her large-scale abstract paintings showing at Flinders Lane Gallery are up for audience interpretation. “It always surprises me that each person sees something different in my work,” Ekholm says. But for her, they are another part of the creative process: “I see my work as a research project. I have a desire to reach into the unknown with each new painting.”

Agneta Ekholm
Flinders Lane Gallery
26 September—14 October

This article was originally published in the September/October 2023 print edition of Art Guide Australia.

Preview Words by Sally Gearon