Monday, September 5, 2016

Swedish Artist Cecilia Edefalk at Berkeley Art Museum

For the past thirty plus years, Berkeley Art Museum has curated more than 220 MATRIX exhibitions to actively engage with living artists since the program's inception in 1978. In the Museum's new location, Matrix 261 (June 20 - October 16, 2016) showcases an amazing Swedish artist Cecilia Edefalk, whose personal and moving employment, reinterpretation, and reinventing of daily objects of growth and decay, manifested in her sculptures, paintings, drawings and photographs, were touchingly melancholic, achingly beautiful, and strangely comforting.

The most eye-catching objects were a 2008 group titled "Minne", birch branches in various shapes and shades, made of silver nitrate on bronze, whose sheen and rust emitted an otherworldly beauty.

DSCN3820 - Cecilia Edefalk, BAMPFA

DSCN3815 - Cecilia Edefalk, BAMPFA

DSCN3775 - Minne, Silver nitrate on bronze, 2008, Cecilia Edefalk, BAMPFA

IMG_6390 - Cecilia Edefalk, BAMPFA

IMG_6387 - Cecilia Edefalk, BAMPFA

DSCN3774 - Minne, Silver nitrate on bronze, 2008, Cecilia Edefalk, BAMPFA

A group of classical mask replicas, based on Roman marble mask of Marcus Aurelius, infused with twigs and leaves in various shapes and formations, formed the second large group of the exhibition.  Those unusual "crowns" made these masks stranger looking, and we suddenly sensed something hidden beneath those perfect and immobile faces.

DSCN3825 - Cecilia Edefalk, BAMPFA

DSCN3823 - Cecilia Edefalk, BAMPFA

DSCN3841 - To view the painting from within, Oil & acrylic on linen, 2002, Cecilia Edefalk, BAMPFA

IMG_6670 - Cecilia Edefalk, BAMPFA

DSCN3827 - Cecilia Edefalk, BAMPFA

DSCN3826 - Cecilia Edefalk, BAMPFA

The balance of the exhibition included a single birch branch in a corner of the large hall - "Weeping Birch Stem", which invoked a palpable sense of loneliness.

DSCN3838 - Weeping Birch Stem, Bronze & oil, 2010, Cecilia Edefalk, BAMPFA DSCN3836 - Weeping Birch Stem, Bronze & oil, 2010, Cecilia Edefalk, BAMPFA

DSCN3819 - Weeping Birch Stem & IMG_6673 - To view the painting from within, Cecilia Edefalk, BAMPFACecilia Edefalk, BAMPFA

She also gave us something whimsical such as a "Birch Shoe" and a three-dimensional frame made of birch "branches" below, though the "Birch Show" was also echoed in a poignant painting, titled "Weeping Birch Mother". Even laughter mixed with tears.

 DSCN3829 - Weeping Birch Mother, Oil on linen, 2010, Cecilia Edefalk, BAMPFA
Birch Shoe, Bronze, gold leaf, 2010, & Weeping Birch Mother, Oil on linen, 2010

DSCN3816 - Cecilia Edefalk, BAMPFA

Some pieces on canvas generated perhaps less buzz, but they were just as valuable and more instructive as they demonstrated the breadth of her works and her methods behind those fascinating sculptures, with the insights "behind the scene" offered in this 2010 piece of tempera and charcoal of birch wood on linen, "Weeping Birch Shadow".

DSCN3817 - Weeping Birch Shadow, Tempera & Charcoal of birch wood on linen, 2010, Cecilia Edefalk, BAMPFA

A 2002 series of 12 oil and acrylic on linen paintings, "To view the painting from within", illustrated how she approached those fantastic masks.

DSCN3842 - Cecilia Edefalk, BAMPFA

DSCN3839 - To view the painting from within, Oil & acrylic on linen, 2002, Cecilia Edefalk, BAMPFA

IMG_6673 - To view the painting from within (background) Cecilia Edefalk, BAMPFA

A series of a 2016 tempera on linen painting, " The Meadow," were also quite interesting.

DSCN3834 - The Meadow, Tempera on linen, 2016, Cecilia Edefalk, BAMPFA

Cecilia Edefalk didn't strive for faddish, self-conscious avant-garde status or shock value so often plagued contemporary art; she dived deep into her private world full of feelings and background stories, which she generously shared with us, and we responded in kind.


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- In Berkeley Art Museum, California
- Eva Hesse and James Abbott McNeill Whistler in Berkeley Art Museum
- Recent Exhibitions at Berkeley Art Museum
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