Artist talk with Tobias Ekman
"Bats did it!", 2020
Acrylic, spray paint and graphite on canvas
Tell us about yourself.
My name is Tobias, I´m 34 years old and live in Stockholm Sweden.
I don´t know what I should call myself, an artist? Painter? I just do things, so I guess I could call myself a Doer ☺
Where did your passion for art begin?
As a child, I loved to draw and very early I realised that I loved to draw on other things than paper.
When I was about 4 years old I took my crayons and ”decorated” our kitchen walls. My mom was so proud…
At 12, my eyes found Graffiti. I started to make tags in school. The feeling of painting and tagging on something that you are not really allowed to paint on was indescribable. Also, people around started to notice and talk about it. I guess we all want some kind of attention in life, especially at that age. Graffiti was a perfect element.
So, Graffiti has been a part of my life for a very long time and I realise how important it has been to me. When I was 27, my first child was born and I felt that I had no longer time to paint illegal Graffiti as much as I had done before. So I started to paint on canvases.
'Untitled' (Chanel or Die), 2021
Acrylic, spray paint and enamel och canvas
How would you describe your work to someone?
Now-days, I find it kind of weird to talk about my own art. I mean, I'm just doing it, it just happen. But I would say that first of all, it's heavily influenced by Graffiti.For example I use spray paint in most of my paintings and I like the dirtyness in it. To me, energy is important so I try to paint very energetically.
My Chanel or Die series is some kind of documentation of the contrast in my life.
Even though I have totally different values today than 3-5 years ago, I still like the good life, but I would never give it up for where I came from.
I think the contrast of the ”luxury” with the dirtyness from Graffiti is kind of cool. But, this whole thing with ”luxury life style” has gone way too far. So many people seems to value what kind of cloth they wear, what car they drive etc.. I get it, it can be fun, but I think that true happiness and most of all - peace, comes from within.
I like to use all kind of media without overthinking, it's not like ”Now I'm gonna make an oil painting”, I use what I have in all paintings, Acrylic, oil, spray, ink, house hold paint etc.
Right now, I'm into figurative paintings, which is new to me. My earlier work is more abstract and text based.
What are you currently working on?
Myself. I'm on a journey where I'm developing myself and therefore my art as well.
My 'Chanel or Die' series became very popular in an early stage, which I'm very blessed for. But, it's so easy to get stuck and just do the same thing over and over again. I love art and I love to develop myself. Some years ago, I would value the sales more, today I value the artworks and my journey 100%.
If it sells, it sells but thats more of a bonus. ☺
Acrylic and spray paint on canvas
When you start a new work or project, do you plan what you’re going to create or do you improvise?
My goal is to come to the point where I can say that I really just improvise.
Most of the time I do, but I still get stuck many times where I start to think too much.
I try to trust myself and that I have a topic to start from. But I really battle with myself right now since this figurative style is totally new to me. I can be proud over myself the one second and the other one I question what the fuck I'm doing..
Can you highlight some of your influences and discuss how your influences have made an impact on you and your practice?
Life is the biggest inspiration. Everyone has their own story which can be translated into a piece of art, a song, a dance etc.
I think I'm heavily influenced by things that happens around me and in the world at that particular moment. I would like my paintings to tell a little bit of the history in the future. Some of my favorite artists are Basquiat, Danny Fox, Cy Twombly, Eddie Martinez.
What are your plans for the remainder of this year?
I'm gonna keep painting more figurative. I am very good at starting new projects and then I get bored and start a new one. This time, I really gonna keep challenging myself.
The easy and in my perspective the wrong way, would be to keep paint my Chanel or Die, because I know that they are selling. But that is not my goal, I really just want to paint what comes to my mind.
'Listening to new music without skipping songs', 2021
Acrylic, spray paint and graphite on canvas