Ethereal Inspirations

Marie Åkerlund is a Swedish artist who focuses on painting, drawing and portraiture. Her subtle compositions revolve around the fragile, ethereal and essential notion of inspiration, whether that comes in the guise of despair, desire, happiness or hope. Åkerlund’s work has been shown in numerous exhibitions in Europe and the USA, and is held in the European Art Museum’s private collection in Denmark. We speak with the artist to find out more.

A: You create what you call “inspirational paintings” – what do you mean by this?
MA: What I mean by inspirational paintings is when I don’t have a previously thought-out motif, but working with the feelings I currently have. Therefore I find it exciting to see where the painting takes me.

A: How do your collectors tend to respond to your works?
MA: A lot of them get very emotional, depending upon which painting they connect with. They tend to see warmth, happiness, beauty and also sadness in my works.

A: Tell us about the use of various materials in your paintings, and how you work with them to achieve your desired result.
MA: Most of the time, I don´t think about how I am building the paintings and layers, but if I see something missing and want to accentuate I am not afraid to use other media to complete my work to the desired result. Lately though, I have exclusively worked in acrylic.

A: How does the Swedish landscape near your home inspire your work?
MA: It inspires me a lot; I have an old forest just outside my window where I take long walks daily along with the family dog and my camera. It clears my head and gives me lots of new inspiration!

A: How much of the Swedish identity do you think comes through in your work?
MA: That’s difficult to answer. I think some of my paintings feels very Swedish, and some are more international. Maybe that’s because I like to paint in different styles in order to keep up the joy of working.

A: Some of your landscape paintings have names such as The Hideout, Secret Places and Old Cottage – are these real or imagined places?
MA: All of them are imagined places, although they are inspired by Swedish nature.

A: Some of these paintings depict fairies and angels – what is the story behind this?
MA: For me, angels symbolise warmth, purity and kindness. Early on, I painted a very darkish kind of angel which characterised my own feelings at that time. They have since then changed into brighter beings which stands for a more peaceful mindset. So for me the angels became a way to mediate an emotion with the viewer.

A: You are also a designer for the well-known glass works in Sweden, Reijmyre Glasbruk. How much of your time is spent on this kind of work, and how is your design approach different (or the same) from your personal work?
MA: I just designed a series of plates with my motifs on and a collection of Jugend vases for them although that work is complete, so at the moment I’m not spending very much time designing glass. I think that those who recognise my paintings also recognise my style in my glass work.

A: You have worked full time as an artist since 2013 – what is a typical day like for you?
MA: I like to get up early in the morning and drink my coffee while the sun rises. Then I do some administrative work before heading out into the woods with the dog. For the rest of the day I paint in my art studio, which is located in our main house. The evening is most often spent with my family, friends or at the gym.

A: Your work was exhibited at Spectrum Miami in 2017. What are your exhibition plans for 2018?
MA: I think 2017 was a fantastic year with many solo as well as group exhibitions in Europe and USA which drained my strength a bit, but like I said, a very fantastic year!

This year I am taking it a bit slower exhibition-wise but booked so far are exhibitions in Stockholm, New York, San Diego, Ronneby and Alvesta in Sweden as well as Art Marbella in July.

The work of Marie Åkerlund appears in the Artists’ Directory in Issue 80 of Aesthetica. To pick up a copy, visit our shop:

1. Secret Places.
2. The Little Cottage In The Forest.
3. Porsven.
4. The Big Fire.
5. They Are Always Around.
6. Forest Of Angels.
7. Marie Åkerlund Jugend Apple Blossom Vase. In collaboration with Reijmyre Glasbruk.