From screen to canvas: Malin Molin's meditations on contemporary imagery

Written by Natalia Muntean

I seek more freedom through my paintings,” says Swedish artist Malin Molin as we stand in front of Dear eyes, what are you looking at?, one of her works from her current solo show, Ekfraser. Born in Gothenburg in 1989, Molin is exhibiting for the second time in a solo show, Ekfrases (Ekphrases), at Gallery Wetterling in Stockholm. Derived from the Greek ekfras, the title describes a commentary on a visual work of art, with the artist intending to offer a commentary on today’s culture of image.

Molin says she has an ambiguous relationship with the images we see online, and in our everyday lives. She is equally fascinated and enthralled by the neverending stream of imagery that can be found online, while also rebelling through her paintings against these same images deciding so many things for us, without us even being aware of it happening. The starting point for the colour-saturated paintings making up the exhibition are prompts given to AI software, such as Open Ai's Dall-e 3 or Midjourney. This is an essential part of Molin's attempt to understand the systems of image production that shape our reality, desires, minds, and bodies while counterbalancing these systems with oil painting. “I wanted to bring the flat images we see online and bring more movement, more body, more physicality to them. I believe that paintings offer the possibility of more immersion, more interaction and more awareness of your physical body,” she says about the movement, and livelihood even, present in her works. Rather than focusing on their visual meaning, Molin aims to draw attention to how the images were constructed. While the images are mostly inspired by animal and vegetal motifs, they are characterised by artificial lighting and a pinch of eccentricity.

I always feel a sense of dread before an exhibition and a feeling of it not being good enough,” she confesses. This time these feelings pushed her to start working on one more addition to the exhibition just two weeks before the opening, with the painting depicting two cats with circles ending up as the centrepiece of the show. Molin credits meditation for her success with painting, considering it one of her main rituals before facing the canvas, a space where she activates her sense of intuition and lets it guide her brushes and strokes.

Ultimately, through Ekfrases, Molin aims to examine how our daily consumption of media and the inundation of images in contemporary culture affects us. “I wanted to merge these images that we see every day with questions such as: who are we or what do we seek,” says the artist.

The show is on display at Wetterlling Gallery in Stockholm from March 14 until April 20, 2024.