Opening Reception: Thursday, November 9 from 6:30pm to 8pm
Swedish artist Karin Lithell layers text over acrylic and oil paintings to pose the ineffable questions: what makes a home a home? How do you make a home for yourself when you’ve been forced to move? How much of the animal population being pushed away from their homes is due to habitat loss? Lithell broaches these topics by incorporating printing into her paintings, allowing her work to be read by viewers in a more literal sense — a text message of sorts. Her exhibit, Home Sweet Home — On the Move will be on view at The Art League gallery, November 9— December 3, 2017.
Lithell carefully selected her text phrasing, pulling from sources both literary and personal, keeping them in harmony with her paintings of sun-washed landscapes and luminous birch forests. “I want people to interpret my paintings as they wish,” Lithell remarked, “There is a Swedish expression for this: ‘Jag vill inte skriva på någon annans näsa’— I don’t want to write on someone else’s nose— to tell them what to think. But I do want to spark something more.”
As a Swedish expatriate, Lithell is intimately familiar with the process of leaving home and making a new home—or homes, in her case, having lived in Åmål, Stockholm, St. Petersburg, Estonia, Copenhagen, and, currently, Washington, DC. Lithell has certainly been on the move. It’s a privilege, in her eyes, to be able to relocate with support from friends, family, and employers. While living in Sweden, her lifetime of happy re-nesting experiences was thrown into sharp contrast when she befriended Ali, a young Afghani boy who endured the turmoil of migrating alone to Sweden, at the age of twelve. Viewers can find a quote from Ali on Lithell’s painting of a boy on a bike. Splashed across the top of the painting, the text reads: I feel like I left my heart in the country I was born. “Ali’s words were so beautiful, I had to do something more with them,” Lithell reflected.
As Lithell became more and more troubled by the massive human migrations occurring across the globe, she put her palette knife to the canvas and began creating the works for this exhibit. For Lithell, painting with a palette knife creates an intriguing, scalloped surface. “I want to reward viewers for taking a closer look,” Lithell remarked, hoping that her painting’s three-dimensional textures will entice eyes to linger. The scenes Lithell depicts are calming, yet longing in nature. Lean, speckled birch trees appear throughout her series – an homage to the birch forests of Sweden that feel like home to Lithell. “Home is a physical place and a psychological idea. It’s inside your heart,” the artist remarks. Lithell hopes that by considering what home means to them, viewers will join a larger conversation about human migration, refugees, and immigration— a conversation about finding home, on the move.
- Daily, 10:00 am–6:00 pm
- Open Thursdays until 9:00 pm
- Sundays, 12:00 noon–6:00 pm
The exhibition is located at 105 North Union St., Studio 21, Alexandria, VA. For more information visit www.theartleague.org or call 703-683-1780