At once sensual and restrained, the paintings in Swedish artist Mamma Andersson’s show “Behind the Curtain” were beautifully rendered. There were eerie surrealist-tinged interiors with objects and furnishings from the 18th century to the present. Lightly brushed-over areas of thick impasto were juxtaposed with stained sections. The rich browns playing off glowing whites created surfaces that were satisfyingly tactile, yet never overworked.
The titles set up menacing implications for ostensibly innocent subjects. A theatrical domestic setting was implied in some paintings, with allusions to costume changes. But the mise-en-scène was lifeless and silent. Even the two women dancing in Ceremony (2014) seemed lost in a trance. The compact black feline in Lyckokatt (2014), however, looks back at the viewer with steadfast golden eyes.
In Hangman (2014), a figurine suspended by his hands from a horizontal pole supported by ornamental columns casts a threatening shadow on an invisible wall. The same image gained even more drama blown up in a monumental mural painted on a wall in a dimly lit second gallery. A second mural featured an enormous female mannequin in an antique gown, while three more intimate paintings redoubled the contrast in scale. Andersson’s serenely spooky images are enthralling whatever their size.
A version of this story originally appeared in the May 2015 issue of ARTnews on page 107.