Sweden is Erik Abrahamson’s oyster in the rich and compelling collection of landscapes the artist produced throughout his life. From the remote island of Jutholmen, buildings delicately placed upon nature as if not to disturb, to the train station at Östra, seating itself with much more force upon a withering wetland, Abrahamson captures the energy of his homeland.
There was, at the time, a passion amongst Swedish artists for capturing the everyday life of their country. Artists, like Abrahamson, were giving up the importance placed on classical and traditional forms of art that they might have learnt during their studies at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts. Instead, they were adopting much more natural and emotional forms of artistic expression.
Many took inspiration from the impressionists working in France and across Europe, with their focus on capturing nature as it was, and imbuing each brushstroke with passion. Swedish artist Anders Zorn (1860-1920) became one of the most celebrated of his compatriots to experiment with these new directions in art.
Everyday life and the surrounding Swedish landscape provided ample fuel for such a fire and Abrahamson certainly wanted to capture his own sparks.
A delicate hand sweeps wavering water across his canvas, reflecting strong trees standing with serene grace on the banks, as if in contemplation.
Gathering storm clouds devour a wilting blue sky as shadow falls across a craggy coastal scene. Grass upon a riverbank is cleverly concocted from visible brushstrokes which produce texture and life. Abrahamson’s use of rich colour injects his works with a slightly romantic, fantastical feel, but he does not lose sight of the landscapes from which he draws inspiration. They are first and foremost the focus.
Abrahamson also showed promise as an engraver. He was employed for some time by the Swedish Post Office to undertake engravings for their stamps and other visual material. In these, he was also said to carry a charming character of execution. Perhaps this was for him a more stable career than the sometimes-tempestuous world of painting.
Regrettably, Abrahamson died at the young age of 35, and so to what further scenes he might have turned his brush, we can only guess. His works are, however, a worthy tribute to an artist excited by the turning artistic tides of the late 19th-century, longing to represent the beauty of his homeland through such new waves.
Some of his work is now held in the Uppsala University Library.
Born in Stockholm.
Studied at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Stockholm.
Enrolled in Axel Tallberg’s etching course.
Died in Stockholm.