MAYA EIZIN ÖIJER
Agneta von Zeipel
Director, Bohusläns museum, Uddevalla
— My first encounter with Maya Eizin Öijer´s world of images proved instantly fascinating. The bright red enamel in the painting contrasting with shiny black, a sublime and subversive vocabulary of images characterised by desire, corruption, dreams and shadowy landscapes. Almost fifteen years have past since that moment and we have had several opportunities of working together on exhibitions.
The encounter was important to me on a personal level and it awoke an interest in dreams and psychological processes. Producing a book on Maya Eizin Öijer´s art I see as a privilege, in that she has been a major figure on the art scene in Sweden ever since the 1970s and her works have great relevance to her own time. Her art moves in and reflects the flow of time yet she is entirely her own, making use of a rich vocabulary of images heavily charged with symbols like some artists of the Renaissence.
— I would also like to thank Mattias Givell who designed the book and Lars O. Ericsson, Jan-Erik Lundström and John Peter Nilsson who have enriched it with their essays. Finally I must thank most sincerely the institutions and people that we have collaborated with in publishing this book. Christer Fällman, director of Passagen, Linköpings konsthall, Jan-Erik Lundström, director of BildMuseet University of Umeå and Isabella Nilsson, director of Uppsala Konstmuseum. —
– on the deconstructive dualism in Maya Eizin Öijer´s art –
Lars O. Ericsson
art critic and curator
— As we have previously noted, Maya wants to invite us on an adventure, to take us with her to a world that is bigger than our grey, everyday one. As a “door opener” she often makes use of the hypnagogic state, the condition between waking and sleeping that dissolves contours, categories, boundaries, opposites and hierarchies. Theoretically and intellectually the hypnagogic state is deconstructive in the way it dismantles opposites. Emotionally and libidinally it is a surging, borderline-like “androgynous” flood that mixes everything together.
But the drama, the adventure recurs on many other levels: structurally as highly striking juxtapositions, materially as synthetic leaps between photo, painting, repro, film stills, silkscreen and computer manipulated images; representationally and semiotically as interaction between painted images and images of paintings; thematically as a leaning towards the “big subjects” – desire, eroticism, love, pain and death; and symbolically with a love of archetypes (bear, wolf and hare…). Not least with regard to symbolism Maya often takes conscious, but carefully calculated risks. She does not try to avoid a symbolism whose magic threatens at any moment to be broken and to give way to worn clichés and kitsch. On the contrary, she searches out this symbolism. But only to charge it with the sort of impure dualism that has always been her characteristic.
Black and red, so emblematic of drama, have become something of a signature for Maya´s work (particularly that of the 1980s). But it is not red against black but a red that is penetrated with sharp threads. Not love against hate but hate within love, not life against death but the presence of death in life, not pain against pleasure but pleasure in the midst of pain. With Maya, one might claim, the duality works as a sort of hypnagogic double “embrace”.
Nothing In Maya´s art is entirely what it is, everything is also characterised by its opposite. The irrevocable flight of time, but also its frozen, adhesive capacity, like a persistent “forest of memories” of faded images of lost worlds. What is the greatest loss, to die or not to have been at all? Our allotted time is squeezed in between birth and death, gradually broken down by forgetfulness, by the gradual numbing of our limbs and our senses, by the mercilessness of time itself.
The forest of memories cannot be ravaged entirely but it is constantly washed with the bleach of oblivion. These melancholy and existential layers are also a central and important dimension of Maya´s wide-ranging and rich art. –
THE FOREST OF MEMORIES
The forest of memories, the forest of images cannot be ravaged. It lingers in our consciousness, it floats in our blood.
In this wilderness there are no roads leading home or astray. Here you walk. Here is your richness. Here life itself digs for water.
Everything seems more beautiful, more clear, more obvious. And pain catches your eye.
Bruno K. Öijer
THE WEIGHT OF A HEART
director of BildMuseet University of Umeå
– Yet the atlas of emotion that is staged in Maya Eizin Öijer´s re-photographed collages, prints and other works, in the unmistakable tone of voice of love and death are shifted using lightness and movement as markers, is distant from the critical task that occupied (and occupies) much of postmodernist practice.
I hesitate somewhat before the word poetic but if Plato is to decide and with him we maintain that “The entire cause of something being transformed from non-being into being is, precisely, poetry” then perhaps we shall be allowed to apply it to Maya Eizin Öijers art. In fact, in her use and re-use of both historical and contemporary images (among her sources there are also often actual objects that have been photographed by the artist in order to be included in a work), the world of images that meets the viewer is her own personal world, sometimes including specifically private reasons for the choice of an image, even in its confrontation with the most powerful dimensions of existence.
It is an oeuvre which, through undertones and discrete dissonances, portrays the cognitive complexity of passions. Here too, I hesitate before claiming that Maya Eizin Öijer´s work is “about” this. In fact I am not sure about this matter. But it is an attractive insecurity, a beneficial anxiety that cannot be stilled. For perhaps this too can be seen as work that is critical of the media. To let images populate and preserve and denominate worlds and values and their absolute complexity; to show that these human dimensions can be recreated even in the heart of the media society, using the very building blocks of popular culture. The heart is an organ weighing approximately 300 grams. –
A MOST VITAL MESSAGE
John Peter Nilsson
director of Moderna Museet Malmö 2012 – 2016
If You Disappear I´ll Be Your Come Back
Your World is Cruel
But Who Am I To Choose
Bruno K. Öijer “1/2 Maya-Elle” (c/o NIGHT, 1976)
– When in the 1990s Maya reused motifs from rococo painters Watteau and Fragonard, for example, she was fascinated by their stylized aesthetic. The way in which they encapsulate emotions in perfect form. Like d´Annunzio, Warhol… As in advertising images or– why not – as in the stylised Japanese culture. Yet again we encounter a contradiction in Mayas art. On the one side is the dream of a perfect and controlled life. Filled with emotions. On the other side – inexorable death. Emptied of feelings. An escape. But it is no academic outing. Nor is it a matter of some private therapeutic narcissism. The play with the rococo aesthetic, with decadence, she uses a way of gaining our attention – but also to attack a conformist way of expressing feelings.
Maya wants to master the form and the elegant surface – at the same time that she is aware of the falsity of the surface since in the dreams of the night (nightmares) there rests another life. With a virtuosic touch she succeeds in balancing these worlds. Didactically she explains the necessity of living side by side with them both.
To view Maya´s work from the 1970s up to the present is to be gripped by a mood. Red and black, life and death, sex and violence, sadness and joy – the list can be made a long one. She makes use of props that might be viewed as having served their term – but there lies a challenge. She wants us again to be capable of being gripped by a sunset without thinking of the cliché of a sunset. Her art deals with time, change, memory – but also with disappearing. She is looking for a work of art in which life just exists. But in life there is also always memory of the past. –