Jakob Simonson – Jakob’s Square

The paintings of Jakob Simonson consist of close to 200 layers of transparent acrylic paint. Using a roller he first applies a layer of cyan, then a layer of magenta, followed by a layer of yellow. Afterwards, he repeats the process. Each layer is applied very thinly over an aluminium plate. Every now and then Simonson takes a sanding-machine to the surface, removing the granulated irregularities left by the roller, but not the traces of his hand’s movements. The sanding reveals depth and releases the spaciousness of the painting. Oddly, in this way we are brought closer to the image. Initially, the beauty is not apparent, of course: one layer each of cyan, magenta and yellow makes for a rather dull and boring image without depth or vitality, and the early layers do not make a painting. It is only after 60, 90 or 120 layers that the work starts to show signs of life – the depth being of great importance.

There is also the question of stopping the process in time; the question of not adding too many layers. One coat too many and the magic is gone. A parallel with the photographic process is close at hand. An under-exposed picture is usually arid, dark and lifeless. But where is the line to be drawn? With each exhibition Simonson’s paintings have become a little darker. The number of coats has increased.

Nils-Eric Sahlin