Cecilia Sikström

Painters can’t socialize with other painters very easily, because being a painter is like being a priest and you can only have one priest to a congregation. Conversations can be creative, but the topic is just an illusion. We speak to each other to give a picture, not to understand each other. Painting is something like this, but it’s not talking with oneself, it’s having a conversation with a surprise.

Painting is everything.

If I want to make a dress I can use a sewing machine and I will get just a dress, I can wear it, that’s it. If I paint the dress I still get the dress but also more, something with expression, something that belongs to the rhythm of the moment of creating it, something free. I started to paint in order to be free – I was looking for freedom – but as soon as I began I became absorbed by the activity itself. Painting is similar to life, but is also against it: you can try to plan but you can never know in advance. Sometimes taking away is as important as adding to make the feeling of the image, which is true for painting but not for real life. That’s part of the pleasure of painting and part of its difference from life. In order to be happy, either in painting or in life, you have to be open to the unexpected. Painting is a great way to be surprised.

I started to paint to express myself very quickly, to not be logical, to not adjust. I was not interested in crafts (or anything that was necessary) and that’s why painting suited me. I’m a person that really doesn’t want to do anything at all! I just want to love and look at beautiful and strange things. I don’t want things to be decent! When the day is over I don’t want to be so serious. But then I begin to talk and to think, to have inner dialogues, then a stain or a drip appears that was not expected and that’s when it burns, because the painting becomes like life itself: unexpected. You cannot plan satisfaction, or treat it like work that is toiled over and then rewarded with beer.

I’m not a photographer because when you take a photo you can’t get angry, but with painting you can show anger. As you work with a painting it can develop, like emotions. Painting is not meditative – like knitting for example – it’s the opposite of that. It’s a sickness to paint. I had to force myself out of the studio every night, it is life that pulls me away from painting, otherwise I would have stayed looking at the canvas forever. When I’m gone from the studio for a few days I miss the painting, but out on the street, watching people, that is like a meditation after being with the work. Painting is a form of escaping from life. It’s not just making pictures, if you paint you do things you are not allowed to do. This frustration is in the work, it must be, and it comes out in the movements of the strokes.