A broad survey of Brita Granström’s paintings, whether they are of Swedish or Northumbrian subjects, would reveal a kind of windswept paradise, a terrain of boundless adventure for children, where they might enjoy fishing, messing about in boats, or discovering a dead seal on a beach. It’s evident too, that she sees nature as benign in all its moods, enjoying the sheer energy of sun, wind, rain and snow; being in it while painting directly and honestly. Indeed, looking at her predominantly blue Swedish landscapes one can feel the cold which, she insists, can be so intense that “the snot in your nose freezes and your mouth can’t move properly.”
All of this she records rapidly and directly in a language akin to that of Winifred Nicholson with a vitality that echoes nature itself. There’s another inheritance too that is evident in her compositional structures and reckless graphic invention, and that is expressionism: think of Munch and Nolde as well as the Fauves.
Internationally known as an illustrator of children’s books, Granström believes that painting enriches her work and it’s something she couldn’t live without, besides, she’s part of a distinguished line of painter-illustrators such as Heath Robinson, who excelled in both genres. Her unselfconscious delight in the natural world reinforces the humanity with which her work is suffused. It is, one might fairly say, a breath of fresh air.
Exhibitions at Gallagher & Turner:
13 February - 15 April 2016