The collapse of vision as an opportunity

– Lennart Fägerskiöld’s series of yellow paintings


In the half-light of dusk figures may approach you, human bodies, monsters – or bushes, litter bins, rocks. Textbooks tell us that the brain fills in where our vision does not suffice. The rendition of perceptions is a never ending process. Much of the interpretation is ready made. Streets, houses and trees are identified without actually being “seen”. Everybody have the experience of suddenly “noticing” something they have seen thousands of times. The necessity of “selective perception” is taught in driving schools, a certain amount of non-seeing is necessary in order to focus on the driving. Our habitual vision needs some blind spots in order to function.


Art is a state of constant struggle against habitual perception. It is a trivial statement. The artistic process takes place at the battlefield of perception: aesthetics. A key notion in Martin Heidegger’s hermeneutics is the “defective mode” of tools. Objects can be disclosed to the active vision only in a defective mode. For example a hammer, can suddenly be noticed when it’s broken, and brought out of its habitual context. Lennart Fägerskiöld is exploring the deficient mode of vision itself. The collapsed vision: vision disturbances,  compensatory optical phenomena, dazzles and afterimages.


Exposed to Fägerskiöld’s series of paintings in white and yellow, my eyes and my vision cannot stop running. The labour of my eyes gets visible to my sight.. I look and look, and it doesn’t work, my vision is constantly disturbed, it compensates, creates afterimages, creates contrasting traces that are already there, painted on the canvas, but nevertheless are being created and re-created by me, the viewer: I suddenly find myself present on the artist’s battlefield.


With his interest in the materiality of the colours, the pigments, Fägerskiöld is balancing the balance out of his well composed almost modernistic arrangements. The destruction requires a hidden precision, or an apparent arbitrariness. In order to implode and start to corrode the eyes, the pigments must be spread in such a way as to immediately let the compensatory traces created by the viewer be disturbed by a similar, yet not identical field, that creates its own dazzles, its own shadows which begin to play in front of the eyes, with the eyes, inside the eyes. The result is subtle and beautiful, and very far from the mathematically computed optical illusions we usually see. In contrast Fägerskiöld’s paintings are organic and living.


The collapse of vision contains a reflexive movement,  the vision sees itself and is invited to participate in the artwork.


Simone Mellquist, 2014