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Roland Persson, “We All Try To Blend In”

Umeå, 24.1–1.3  2013

In this year’s first exhibition at Galleri Andersson/Sandström in Umeå, we are greeted by a gallery space occupied by wild animals. A brown bear is resting on top of a pile of garbage bags and bubble wrap. A little further away, a wide-eyed badger on a similar island of debris. Curiously, a raccoon is watching the scene from the top of a wobbly stack of taped boxes and an old first-aid kit. Roland Persson is the sculpture virtuoso beind these silicon works, creating an interface between the surreal and the humorous.

The vegetation and the plethoric waste piles are germinating in the gallery. From the hard concrete floor tiny mushrooms are emerging, small but teeming many. The remnants of civilization have become the domain of wild animals, and the integrity of nature is powerful, even defiant. The exhibition title “We All Try to Blend In” is directing us towards the story of these animals: in an environment that is not their own, they show obvious signs of adaptation.

Roland Persson often works in aluminum and bronze, but the silicone sculptures have become his hallmark. He colors silicone mass with pigments, and then wields the material with such skill that the ravishing end result is utterly realistic. Realism, a direct line to making the reality presented here, no matter how absurd it seems, credible. Persson says: “What is so appealing about silicone is that the material truly possesses its color, just like the skin on my hand is possessing the color of my hand. In silicone, I can create surfaces that are not only sculptural, but also painterly.”

The ambiguity is hovering over Persson’s sculpture suite, drawing us into unstoppable associative misconnections. Here, clashes take place between interior and nature, order and chaos, the human and the animalistic. This is the end of logic, and if you are searching for a narrative to the events taking place here, no answers can be found in the silent stares of these animals. Even the concept of time seems to dissolve in this seemingly post-apocalyptic scene.

Roland Persson is a Swedish artist, born 1963 in Hudiksvall and raised in Gävle. Today, he lives and works on the island Värmdö, just outside of Stockholm. Persson received his M.F.A. in 1993 at the Umeå Academy of Fine Arts, after which he has participated in a wide array of solo and group exhibitions, primarily in Sweden but also on an international level. Throughout the years, Persson has been awarded with numerous scholarships and grants, and many of his sculptures are permanently placed in public spaces all around Sweden. Persson’s bronze work “Untitled” from 1998 is a permanent sculpture in the Umedalen sculpture park.