Mats Pehrson looks at the world with an eye towards life’s contradictions. While he can paint sublimely lovely scenes, he sets out instead to capture the tensions that teem all around us. Pehrson uses collage to its best advantage, to stage a range of startling juxtapositions. Whereas collage usually entails “found” imagery, Pehrson makes his found images. Having captured the ripe moment or telling fragment, he then composes these images into a visual crescendo. Transferred onto canvas or other materials, the layered images are further vitalized through various other media, including oil, acrylic, charcoal, gesso, cement, shellac, and sand. Pehrson’s evolution toward such complexity was gradual. Born in Sweden in 1958, he has remained responsive to his changing surroundings, absorbing and reflecting his environs. The Nordic Light of Pehrson’s native land no doubt illuminates the radiant passages within his paintings. A residency in Spain in the late 1990s resulted in the “Signs and Symbols” series, which reflects the influence of Catalan art, especially the boldly suggestive work of Antoni Tàpies. The artist‘s various travels continue to feed his art, but since the late 80´s, when he moved to New York City, this urban landscape has been his key inspiration and graphic source.
 Pehrson has a distinct iconographic language with his own recurring motifs. His talent as a painter imbues his works with a lush fullness and rich color tonality. And Pehrson’s understanding of pictorial space allows him to produce a striking sense of depth. 

While Pehrson may have strong social views, these are not message paintings; they are more riddles than aphorisms. His paintings remind us that experience itself is a collage of shifting fragments, held together by our own sense of beauty and order. 

Suzanne Ramljak is an art historian, writer, and curator.
STUDIO, 80 Beaver Street, New York City

STUDIO, 80 Beaver Street, New York City