Down Stuff: Albin Looström

1 - 23 October 2016

Weather, elements, body and soul. Blobs cover the horizon. Tar-black drops of rain over putty grey skies. Cold winds and water smashing you in the face; an early morning slog to work. Maybe a sense of inner turmoil.


I meet up with Albin in his temporary studio in Stockholm; a space that seems to aesthetically fuse with his work. Damp color traces and pieces of unidentifiable scraps surround his paintings, placed on tin cans, leaning against the wall. When we're talking, Albin often returns to using two words in relation to his practice: failure, as a concept, and erosion. Two words that carry a negative connotation but that also relate to change. Technically, erosion is decomposition followed by movement of matter: metals, as well as coastal lines or the teeth in our mouths. Failure is a temporary, but acute, state. The moment a man rides a bike into a canal can transform from personal fiasco into a funny video on YouTube, or art as in the case of Bas Jan Ader.


In Albin's work, building materials and industrial grade paints form new qualities. They do not hold together nice apartment walls or sun-bleached verandas on summer houses. Instead the application and handling brings to mind scraps from construction sites, or the discarded remains of industrial areas. Sturdy materials constantly seem to be at their breaking point or already beyond; held together by a few laws of physics that won't let go. The surfaces of his paintings bear the marks of usage; as if they had been protecting a floor, or acted as temporary table for a messy project, or shielded from an x-acto blade through cardboard in the making of a protest sign.


When I ask Albin about the whiff of abstract expressionism in his work he says that he sometimes feels like he's playing Pollock. Not as theatrics but as a child plays with Legos. It makes sense, the modernist genius is a pose that is borderline impossible to inhabit with intact self-respect. Nevertheless it has a certain pull. The inner landscapes we all live with have a tendency to want to be explored and performed. Sadly, as they manifest they often rust into dramatic outbursts of over-the-topness. In the execution, and choice of materials, Albin seems to both acknowledge and bring this problem to the surface. Nothing is bombastic up-close. Instead his work exposes the side of a strong stance that is vulnerable and fragile. Where Robert Rauschenberg mocked his abstract predecessors, maybe Albin is the kind of offspring they didn't really want. Someone with similar targets, but who collapses the job on purpose because it is better that way.


Harsh landscapes. Rugged looking boards exposed to the same havoc, as if stripped by their own motifs. They are both ruined and elevated into a new form that was somehow all around us all along. A slight unavoidable failure that slowly erodes and shifts into something other and unexpected.


Text by Mark Frygell
Edited by Zoe Barcza