Paintings like cut outs of a movie about a childhood long lost

Martin Wickström, ”Paradiso (Out of the red)”
Galerie Forsblom

A play between light and shade on the facades of buildings, the park in the childhood town of Finspång, and photographs from an old family album. Glimpses from the skilled painter’s life and travels flashes by to the tones of Morricone’s movie soundtrack.

I will begin with a confession: I belong to to those who secretly wept in the dark movie theatre when Giuseppe Tornatore’s ”Cinema Paradiso” premiered in my home town. And that continued every time I revisited the story of little Toto and his friendship with the aging projectionist Alfredo, somewhere in a small town on Sicily. Ennio Morricone’s languishing music is obviously half of this tear drenched experience. Although highly overestimated and unbearably sentimental, ”Cinema Paradiso” hits right into the sore spot where personal memories seamlessly drift into something larger. If nothing else it makes you feel like you are part of the international collective of movie lovers.

The fact that Martin Wickström looks to this old classic feels more like logical consequence than a coincidence. The exhibition title ”Paradiso” refers both to the movie and to the long lost childhood that Wickström in various ways keeps returning to in his works. He often freely mixes paintings, toys and objects in his exhibitions, and together they form willful installations.

The presentation is more unmitigated this time, and concentrated around painting, although the key work is a slideshow composed by old photographs. The same young woman in picture after picture, most often smiling, looking towards the camera or the person holding it. Skiing vacation in the mountains. Sunny walks on a beach. Tourist streets and beautiful landscapes. The seasons change. The years go by. Scratches and defects mark the passing of the years in the old photographs. Time has softened the edges of the past. Martin Wickström succeeds in making a beautiful, personal homage to his parents and their lifelong love. It is however difficult to find a revolutionary artistic value in the projections.
Wickström’s work usually contains a broad range of references underneath the personal surface. World politics. Science history. International travels. Mount Fuji that proudly rises in the foreground. K2 in Himalaya and the dramatic memories of a friend who died there.
As a skilled painter Wickström manages to translate his impressions and experiences into images. The colors are strong, the cropping is brave and the formats vary – it is fast paced.

There are many trails here as well, the sceneries change like in a kaleidoscope. We recognize the motives in the new paintings from previous exhibitions. The sunny reflections on buildings and a logotype or two that might carry a personal message. Several sceneries are included: Scotland, the Vibjörn park in Finpsång, and the seven seas. All of it seemingly without a beginning or an end, in Martin Wickström’s characteristic manner. These fragments could all be cut outs from a movie. Like the kisses Alfredo from ”Cinema Paradiso” had to get rid of as soon as the vicar rang his bell of censorship. Once picked up by Toto they were however given a new life.

Joanna Persman