Swedish raw artist Patrik Evereus chats about the influence of punk on his art, his love of the marginalised, and working as a mentor at a camp for unaccompanied refugee children…
Hi Patrik, and a very big welcome to Om Pom Happy. As you know I’m a great fan of your work. It’s simple yet complex at the same time…
Thank you so much Cand! You know, I’ve been reading your blog for a while now and it seems to me that you are driven by a genuine and honest interest in the many forms of art. And that reflects the way you approach the artists and their work. With curiosity and humbleness. I like that.
Gunnar Ekelöf, a favorite poet of mine, wrote, and I’m translating him kinda freely, ‘There’s a blemish in all. I’m sticking to that.’ Those words have become some kind of manifesto for me. It’s the flaws that appeal to me, that addresses my attention, my stomach, and for me it’s right there in the gut where good art begins. For good or bad without detours or the need of being intellectually explained. This may be the relationship between light and dark in a Rembrandt, or the direct raw power of a Basquiat… art that has that special attendance, that pulse you can feel in your body.
Some say my art is dark. My partner watched a documentary on kids with neuropsychological diagnosis and quoted one of the kids concerning her/his ‘dark’ drawings, ‘I draw dark, because I’m born that way’. Such a good line. Without any effort towards euphemism. Beautiful. I wish I’d said that. Cause that’s simply how it is.
I’m not light-minded. Never was. When the other kids in kindergarten drew rainbows and flowers, I drew people, then cut them out and decapitated them with the scissor. To my kindergarten lady’s big concern. So my future career choice was either the one of the serial-killer or I simply had to be an artist… hahaha…! I have a big love for the broken and the ragged. I’m finding a certain beauty in things standing close to devastation, in things that doesn’t quite fit in. I’ve always felt an affinity with the marginalized, the unheard, the forgotten, the unchosen. In my work I’m recomposing that into images, creating some form of ‘tatteredism’.
In my early teen’s punk-rock introduced itself to me and I became a part of this very vivid subculture. It affected me in many ways, but the most important thing it learned me was that I don’t need anybody to grant me the permission to go out and do what I want. And I don’t need to know how things are ‘supposed’ to be done. Everyone has the right to make up they’re own rules. With this came a creative tidal wave. With no money you had to be creative with the means available. Fanzines, posters, record-covers, t-shirts were created out of what was at hand and most of the times this was nearly nothing. But you did it anyway, not because you were looking for fame and money, you did it because you thought you had something to say. Because you needed to say it. And this gave birth to an aesthetic that deeply influenced my work and still does.
I often think the best art is created by people who work outside the ‘recognized’ art-scene. Children up to a certain age couldn’t care less about rules or expectations and that sets them free. I hope to find that place. Striving for the simple. Getting rid of the unnecessaries. No reconstruction after the event. Trying to be as honest and straightforward as I can. I think that’s why I appreciate to draw with black ink so much. There’s no going back. If I’m not happy I’ll go over it again… Sometimes ’till it’s all blackened out.
Your work is mostly figurative. Are there stories behind the figures or are they instantaneous thoughts that go straight to pen and paper?
The relation between the body and the mind fascinates me. I think the way we often talk about it ends up in a false dichotomy. The body is the instrument through which we are capable of communication. Of feeling. Of thought. So therefore we can’t separate them. Drawing and painting is a very physical act and… I’m not quite sure where I’m going with this… the whole thing gets complicated when trying to put it into words… I think that I tie my work in the forms of variations of bodies and figures… as an alias for myself. Some sort of body-doubles portraying my mind. Or what I see. And that didn’t sound pretentious at all hahaha…
You say you have an affinity for black ink, but you did a small series in red ink which I really loved…
I’m glad you like them! When I find something that appeals to me I seem to dwell on it. I enjoy examining different medias. To investigate them one at a time like those red ones. What interested me more than the motifs themselves, is the certain quality of the red colour. When you work in black the shadows get darker. They withdraw. Disappear. In red they somehow get more intense, create a significant luminescence that I find attractive. And there’s a satisfaction in drawing this. Maybe this will lead to something sometime, I don’t know. Right now it’s just some kind of a love affair with a colour.
And of course occasionally you also paint and then you expand into full colour…
I would paint more if I could. I don’t have the appropriate space for the moment. The economy is tight so it’s just an outcome of the circumstances. I draw more because I have the opportunity (:)) to do so.
So where do you work from? I take it you don’t have a studio right now?
I’ll find places to work where ever I am. My work-place is walking. I’ve been moving around quite a lot in my life and had a few studios. At the moment, because of the economic situation, the apartment I live in is a kind of everything-place. It’s the place where I eat, sleep, work and spend time with my very beloved and understanding partner. It’s home and I kinda’ like it. Even though I am really longing for a place to paint. To let loose.
You sell your work, but it’s pretty tough to survive as an artist. Do you work in any other way?
I sell every once in a while. The later year it has become more frequent, mostly for some reason, to France and USA. But I do not sell as much as I need to be able to live on it. Yet…
To make a living I nowadays work as a mentor at a camp for unaccompanied refugee children. I love it and it gives me a paycheque without me having to clamp down on my art.
For many years I worked as a tattoo artist. At the beginning it was a way to make a living out of your art, but after 14 years I grew tired of the stereotype and rigid scene. I still do tattoos when I get to do what I want to do, namely my art, not copying someone’s copy of a copy of a copy… I could talk about the tattoo-industry for a long time. But I wont. You wouldn’t be able to stop me if I started… hahaha…
Do you sketch and, if so, do you keep a sketchbook with you at all times?
I sketch whenever I get the chance with anything that leaves a mark. On everything. Paper. Napkins. Receipts. Envelopes. Walls. I always have pens and papers in my bag and I dont go anywhere without it. I love the nerve in the quick drawings. Theyr’e like polaroids.
Are you someone who works through the night into the early hours, or do you have a disciplined routine which involves getting up early?
I work all the time. Where-ever. Whenever. If I wouldn’t I’d probably go crazy. For real.
If I didn’t have to go to a second job I’d probably work during the evening and nights. I’m not much of a morning-person. But not because this should be a more inspirational time. The inspiration comes while working. It’s easier some days than other. But I always work when I have the opportunity. That’s when I feel at home.
Patrik, thank you so much for sharing with us! It’s been such fun getting to know you and I wish you and all the refugee children that you mentor the very best of futures. Let’s say goodbye with your choice of music…
Thank you so much! I choose The Fall and their absolutely fantastic Mountain Energy because if one of my paintings could be a song, I would wish for it to be this one. Right on. Simple. Raw. Authentic.
If you would like to purchase any of Patrik’s work please contact me, Cand Juskus, at firstname.lastname@example.org or via the contact in the om pom happy gallery shop raw art for sale
Words: CAND JUSKUS and PATRIK EVEREUS
Images: PATRIK EVEREUS Photos: MELINA EKH