More North, the elegant and spacious gallery in the heart of New York’s Tribeca, is always worth a visit but more so now than ever, as they are presenting new works by the enormously talented Swedish painter Harald Lyth. The paintings in Lyth’s “SPACES: Recent Works on Paper”, form a series of pictures that play with the issue of space, a theme that has interested Lyth for a long time.
“I don’t want to talk too much about my art,” Lyth says. “I want to show my art first and foremost.”
But he does talk about his art, and quite fluently so. It’s up to the viewer, he says, to interpret the painting. You see a mountain? You see rolls of paper lying on a desk? Whatever you see in his paintings is fine with him. Lyth is likewise careful with the titles.
“You don’t want a title that disturbs the experience for the viewer,” he says. “It’s like when you’re naming your children, don’t you know? You want names they can live with.”
So the titles are like the paintings themselves, clear, somewhat intellectual and clean in lines: “Vitreous”, “Building”, “Dialogue”… The palette is very selective, very sober and Nordic in its colors, grays, blues, and beiges. An occasional lighter teal but no traces of reds or yellows. It makes for a cold universe.
Lyth himself is tall and lanky, a bit aristocratic looking, and appears much younger than he is (he was born 1937 in Göteborg). He is very interesting to listen to.
“Technique,” he says, “is something you simply have in your pocket if you have studied art like I have. And I studied for nine years in Sweden and then in Italy and in France.”
He is not a very prolific painter – producing only about 12-15 works a year.
“I have good days, and bad days. The bad days easily outnumber the good ones. But the bad days are important, because if it weren’t for them, you wouldn’t go back into the studio trying to correct what went wrong, you see? I usually work on 4-5 paintings at once, adding, correcting… When the painting is done, it forces me out of it; it lets me know it’s done. That’s a good feeling, that way I know I can go on.”
The paintings teach him about life, he also says.
“I’m not a revolutionary, I never was. I am also not concerned with trends. Someone said, very wisely, that actuality is the poet’s worst enemy, and I believe that’s true.”
Music and literature, he adds, are influential for him as a painter. He prefers Bach and Satie but also jazz. He listens to music while he paints.
“But I definitely live in the visual world, and with music you have to be careful so it doesn’t overpower the painting you’re working on.”
And when classical music floods the gallery at the opening, Lyth looks up – aghast.
“It’s too much! Too big music, too big statements!”
Lyth first solo exhibition was at Galerie Blanche in Stockholm in 1972, and he has since been exhibiting internationally for over four decades: in Warsaw, Mexico City, Brussels, Buenos Aires, Avignon, Paris, Zurich, and Sao Paolo. His work is in the collections of some of the most prestigious Swedish institutions: the Modern Museum, the National Museum, the Royal National Library, and the Karolinska Institute.
The exhibition “Spaces” will run at More North until June 15.
For more information:
Phone: (212) 334-5541