Mats Bergquist, Votive ship, 2017

The works by Swedish artist Mats Bergquist appear before our eyes like enigmatic, mysterious figures – as if capable, surrounded by silence, of delivering an arcane secret kept hidden since the dawn of time. The artist starts from wooden supports, obtaining volumes that resemble concave or convex surfaces by means of a long process of stratifying extra-thin layers of material.


Therefore, creating the work takes time – and not merely from a chronological standpoint. It’s the time of prayer, of the desire to meet someone that we can count on, like monks waiting for the spirit to guide their gestures so as to give life to the image of an icon. Thus, the physical texture of the work is obtained by a slow, progressive act of layering materials until the object’s surface appears smooth and perfectly polished. The surface presents neither marks or imitative or naturalistic forms.


For the work of art Votive ship, realized in 2017, Bergquist draws inspiration from narrow and streamlined Viking ships, sculptures upon which he places ashes to remind us that death comes as the end for us all. The North European peoples transformed them into touching votive offerings to display in temples before setting them free along the river, on a voyage towards eternity. In any case, the artist creates poetic volumes pregnant with meaning, which appear to date back to a timeless dimension, all the way down to our present.