After studying painting for the last two decades, at Kunglinga Konsthvogskolan in Stockholm between 1986 and 1993, Karin 'Mamma' Andersson experienced a breakthrough, when she was featured in the Venice Biennale in 2003. There she gained international accolades for her display at the Nordic Pavilion, as part of an exhibition entitled Devil-May-Care, and come to be recognized as one of the most important contributors to the revivification of painting in the past decade.
Heimat Land, painted on the heels of this breakthrough, is a monumental tour de force of Andersson's unique painting style ranging from dense swathes of paint to watery stained washes that bleed into each other and exposed areas of canvas, all applied in a fluid, seemingly intuitive, manner, it is a vast panoramic scene. The painting represents a contemporary continuation of the Nordic tradition of the sublime and psychologically charged landscape. Heimat Land appears to be both a depiction of an actual landscape, an epic Nordic view of low rolling hills and an expanse of water, yet it is also a landscape of dreams, coloured by the unconscious, much like the Symbolist landscapes of Edvard Munch. Enveloping the viewer in a portrait of nature in flux, the portentous undulating clouds and shifting surface of water convey a sense of psychological unease, heightened by the flame-like colours playing across it. These intimations of apocalypse seem to coexist with a tranquil and transcendent beauty.
The title of the work alludes to the theme of Heimat, a word which refers to a specifically Germanic concept of homeland, and to the notion of a people bound to the region in which they are born and raised. This idea, at one time co-opted to serve various extremes of nationalism, took hold in reaction to the modern shift of populations from the countryside to urban centres, which resulted in a pervasive sense of alienation and loss. Andersson, raised near the Artic Circle, depicts a landscape that refers to her homeland, bestowing upon it a transcendent sense of Romaticism and grandeur.
Revisiting a theme of art history, this extravagant vista simultaneously pays homage to the tradition of landscape painting and transforms it into a vision that is thoroughly contemporary. Much like in the work of Peter Doig, Andersson's distinct handling of paint, her selection of vaguely unnatural colors, her experimentation with perspective and scale, imbues a terrain once home to Classical depictions of Arcadia, Romantic scenes of countryside and Historical pursuits of documentary accuracy, with a sense of disorientation and uncertainty. The marked differences between the landscapes of the past and Andersson's tumultuous representation of her northern home bring into relief this contemporary character of the work. Here, ultimately, is a new depiction of nature, at once real and sublime, uneasy and meditative, concrete and ethereal, fully embodying the unsettled state of today's world.