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On Tenterhooks

On Tenterhooks
signed, titled and dated 'ON TENTERHOOKS 2005 KARIN MAMMA ANDERSSON' (on the reverse)
acrylic and oil on panel, in three parts
overall: 24 x 99 3/8in. (61 x 252.5cm.)
Executed in 2005
Stephen Friedman Gallery, London.
Private Collection (acquired from the above in 2006).
Anon. sale, Christie’s London, 1 July 2014, lot 55.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
Mamma Andersson, exh. cat., Stockholm, Moderna Museet, 2007 (illustrated in colour, pp. 86-87).
London, Stephen Friedman Gallery, Mamma Andersson, 2005.
Special notice
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

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Lot Essay

On Tenterhooks (2005) is a monumental example of Karin Mamma Andersson’s elaborate and elusive panoramic landscapes. Executed across three panels—a signature format for the artist—it presents us with a vivid mountain scene, a group of hikers stationing their tents along its rocky surface. The tableau is distinctively otherworldly, its hallucinatory horizon and replication of figures suggesting a place between a landscape and a dream. In the left picture plane, an area of green foliage juxtaposes the stark black sky, a feature which appears naturalistic against the remainder of the work, where peaks are depicted in crimson and the sky a palette of neon pink and green. The figure to the far right, depicted from behind sporting a bright orange hat, might be mistaken for a campfire, the wooden logs he carries further adding to the illusion. The horizon, which appears to attract the attention of the campers, is evocative of both twilight and dawn, implying the activity of either winding down or setting up for the day. This transitional quality, further suggested by the title On Tenterhooks, lends the work a subtle air of suspense, suggesting the foreboding of an unknown future event. Uncanny yet inviting, the painting presents us with a new depiction of nature, transporting us into its sublime and ethereal otherworld.

Born in Luleå, Sweden in 1962, and raised near the Arctic Circle, Andersson’s works are largely inspired by her Nordic heritage. Like those of her contemporaries Peter Doig and Marlene Dumas, they celebrate the liquid, mirage-like qualities of paint, revelling in the slippages between art-historical echo, personal memory and fantasy. In On Tenterhooks, she presents us with a landscape that refers to her Scandinavian homeland, embedding it with the naturalistic drama of Romanticism. Taking local and contemporary vernacular as her starting point, she is also interested in the tradition of folk art, the expressive canvases of Ernst Josephson bearing a profound influence on her work. ‘As a Swedish painter there is no getting around Ernst Josephson, he is very interesting’, she has recalled, ‘both as a sane painter as well as a mentally ill drawer; he comes and goes in my work’ (M. Andersson, quoted in ‘The unvarnished place: Painter Mamma Andersson on ‘Gooseberry’, Culture Critic, 13 May 2013). Despite these associations, Andersson’s jarring depictions of space and juxtapositions of thick paint with watery washes of colour are uniquely her own. Exquisitely rendered in her illusory technique, On Tenterhooks is a magnificent example of the surreal atmospheric landscapes that lie at the heart of her practice.

Since her exhibition for the Nordic Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2003, Andersson has participated in a number of significant institutional shows across the globe, including at the Moderna Museet, Stockholm in 2007, the Aspen Art Museum in 2010 and the Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati in 2018. In 2006, she was awarded the Carnegie Art Award, and in 2018, she won the prestigious Daniel and Florence Guerlain Drawing Art Prize. In 2021, Andersson was the subject of a major retrospective at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humblebaek, an exhibition which celebrated fifteen years of her practice.

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