Andreas Englund is an amazing artist that we are honored to be bringing to Select Art Fair! His paintings are a human depiction of superheroes, the life between the fights and the action shots. Andreas is a man who cares about the small details and the small beauty in life, and it’s no surprise, because his work shows his care and passion. Check out his interview:
Where are you from? Where do you live right now? How has each of these places contributed to you as a person, what have you learned from each?
I’m from a small city in the middle of Sweden called Falun, 250 km north west of Stockholm. Falun lies in Dalecarlia, a region known for it’s traditions. A lot of Swedes go there when celebrating Midsummer. The Dalecarlia horse – also manufactured in my region is one of the most famous symbols of Sweden. This has given me a strong relation to my home region, which gives me comfort. I moved to Stockholm back in ’96 and have lived there ever since. Stockholm is full of inspiration. Lots of driven people with their mind filled with self confidence. You can sense that energy and in my case I learned that anything is possible if I put my mind to it.
In your previous interview you mentioned that you are constantly looking for small things that make a difference. On my commute home from work every day there is one particular part where I cross a bridge, and on a clear day I can see a massive snow capped mountain rising up in the distance. It is a beautiful thing to see every day but more often than not I find myself wondering how many people in the cars around me stare at it in wonder. What is something that you have experienced recently that is small but has made a big difference, whether in your life or in the lives of others?
Cool! Well, I try to be looking up instead of looking down while I’m walking (downtown in Stockholm). Then I get to see all kinds of interesting architecture. Also sculptures and mural paintings high up under the roofs of the older buildings. I used to think about all that craftsmanship and time spent on those buildings, knowledge that now is probably since long forgotten. For example what masons could do back then with bricks. How they where placed around windows and doors, creating patterns and sculptural structures. It’s beautiful I think.
Your protagonist is inspired by superheroes, specifically Superman and The Phantom. Do you read many comics?
I don’t read that many comics nowadays. With a small family your own spare time just disappears…
I found out about Simon Bisley back in 93. He became my absolute favorite and still is. I’m very impressed by Alex Ross and he’s the one I read most recently.
What do you think the current prevalence of superhero stories says of modern culture?
The amount of superhero stories has grown rapidly over the years and are now more popular than ever. Like in all genres only a few make it to the top to become really good movies. It’s all about special effects mostly and the film producers know it will attract people even though the storyline is thin. I hope there will be more stories with more focus on the characters than explosions. One of my favorite movies is ”District 9” it’s not a superhero movie but kind of close since the anti hero gets sprayed and starts to turn into an alien. Very exciting and unique story, great character build and awesome special effects.
Your work contains an incredibly interesting discussion: what happens to superheroes when life happens to them? That is, when they go home to have a drink to de-stress, or when they’re children are born, or when they grow old. Do you think home life and maturation is an absent narrative within modern superhero stories? Or is it unnecessary?
Some movies like the Watchmen, Kick-Ass or the latest Batman movies explores that I think and I like it. However when it comes to Superhero movies/stories being old is more rare. X-men have old people but not in the way I try to portray them. The classic Superhero is a stereotype and for me it is more interesting when that stereotype is challenged. It shows that there’s an alternative to the main stream perception. It connects us and gives us inspiration and hope I think. Like how Aimee Mullins gave a whole new perception on how to become a supermodel and an athlete.
In ‘Cops’, the piece you’re sending to Select Art Fair, the protagonist is surrounded by police but not under arrest. What is the situation? What is the protagonist feeling at that point? The image almost looks like a candid photo, the protagonist looks like he’s been caught rearranging himself for comfort, was this your goal?
Exactly. I wanted to show the aftermath. When the Superhero and the cops round up after an event, when the action is over. They chitchat, probably about what to do next, ending up with something like ”We’ll keep in touch” or ”see you down at the station”. This is one of those moments when you do something without thinking about it but being caught while doing it. I guess it has to feel like you need to rearrange down there sometimes, especially when you have that kind of suit with tight underpants on top.
Are you seeking to humanize superheroes? As someone who portrays superheroes, how do you feel superheroes differ from ‘normal’ people? Besides maybe powers, what makes them special, if anything? Will? Morals?
Humanizing the superhero makes him more interesting to me. I think if you became a superhero you would feel that you had to achieve something good with your powers, sooner or later. Like being a sport celebrity, people look up to you and you get a responsibility whether you want it or not. I guess the more you are respected the more you feel responsibility to earn that respect and live up to it.
Do you see these qualities exemplified by normal people to the same degree?
I know there are real people out there who have done much greater deeds than any superhero which is truly amazing and shows what we are capable of doing.
What, if anything, do you expect out of your work being shown at Select Art Fair? Are you excited? How might this showing be different than showing at a different gallery?
I have stopped having expectations about anything many years ago. It’s good actually cause then I more often get positively surprised.
I hope on this show artists, gallerists and art lovers will blend in a mix full of good energy.
What’s your favorite muscle car?
The Plymouth ”Hemi” Barracuda from 1970 or 71
All images are available as prints on Andreas’ site, check it out: