Yrjo Edelmann/ Yrjö Edelmann

Sweden 1941 - 2016

Hyperrealism

Yrjo Edelmann
Yrjö Edelmann
Male
Sweden
1941

A theme old as the painting itself – even the ancient Greek painters have been obsessed with mimetic qualities of their art. In the contest between Zeuxis and Parrhasius regarding who is the greater artist Zeuxis’s grapes were so masterfully painted that the birds started picking it up. But it was Parrhasius to win the competition in the end since he managed to deceive Zeuxis that his painting was concealed behind a curtain – the curtain that was the painted illusion. Today, in contemporary art Yrjo Edelmann’s oil paintings of poorly wrapped blue or green packages and parcels create a perfectly crafted illusion. He manages to deceive the eye with these three-dimensional pictures that have a hauntingly vivid presence. Edelmann is the best known Swedish artist abroad, a master of optical illusion in the manner of hyperrealism who creates mysterious and ambiguous art.

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Yrjo Edelmann – Packed blue pacific ocean, 2005 – Image via 1stdibs

The Career of Yrjö Edelmann

Yrjö Edelmann was born in Finland in 1941. In 1951 he moved to Sweden where he studied freehand drawing at the University College of Arts in Stockholm. Firstly, he started as a comic book illustrator and worked with publishers as Åhlén & Åkerlund in Stockholm – he even did covers for James Bond novels – until he started being interested in Surrealism in 1973. Since 1976 his work has been displayed continuously in galleries worldwide. International breakthrough that raised Edelmann in the line with artists like Andy Warhol and Keith Haring was in 1993 when he participated in the famous Absolut Vodka advertising campaign. He covered the vodka in silk paper and then painted the wrapped bottle. After that, Edelmann did a painting of a wrapped-up McLaren and a racing car for Felipe Massa, in the same manner. The artist died in 2016 at 75 years.

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Yrjo Edelmann – Summary of experimental observations of Black, 2010 – Image via artsper

Colorfull Hyperrealism

He was originally inspired by French Surrealism and artists like Rene Magritte, Giorgio de Chirico and Marcel Duchamp, whose main preoccupations were the trompe l’oeil character of the perception itself. But Edelmann took those principles to a funnier and lighter level. Bright and sensual colored package is contrasted to the crude twine and ordinary brown tape, but the subtle reflections of light and shade reflect Edelmann’s exquisite technique. In that way, he produces a sense of mystery while, at the same time, he highlights the surface and form, making a trompe l’oeil that with an ironic playfulness questions the limits of perception. The colors that he most often uses for the packages are green, blue, violet and yellow. And it was by accident that Yrjö Edelmann got to the idea of using crinkled paper in his work. Thinking about how to paint a cloud that he saw outside of his studio and to avoid an ordinary landscape painting, he cut the form of a cloud and then painted it.

Oil paintings or photographs – and what is the catch?

gkm gallery- new Installation view
Yrjo Edelmann – Installation view – Image courtesy of Scott Richards Contemporary Art

Fool the Observer

Creating photorealistic oil paintings of badly wrapped parcels and gifts that can very easily be mistaken for photographs, Yrjö Edelmann is offering humorous and inspiring gifts to spectators in a gallery – are they illusions of gifts, empty packages or mysterious objects of our own desires? He insisted that he hadn’t imagined anything inside while painting. And as he said, it’s for us to decide; his biggest reward was to fool the observer. In his own words: My paintings are like the photos – only better.

Yrjö Edelmann lived and worked in Sweeden.

Featured image: Yrjö Edelmann portrait photo via thisiscolossal.com
All images used for illustrative purposes only

YearExibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2015 Heat, Work & Energy Galleri GKM Siwert Bergstrom, Malmo, SwedenSolo
2013 Structure and Spectrum: New Paintings by Yrjo Edelmann Scott RichardsSolo
2013UntitledContemporary Art, San Francisco, CASolo
2013 Play on Perspective Scott Richards Contemporary Art, San Francisco, CAGroup
2012 Wrapping Up the Force of Perspective MAD Museum of Art & Design, SingaporeSolo
2012UntitledCraighead & Green Gallery, Dallas, TX Solo
2011Untitled Galleri GKM Siwert Bergstrom, Malmo, Sweden Solo
2011UntitledArt Stage, Singapore, with MAD, SingaporeSolo
2010Untitled Kalmar Slott (Castle of Kalmar), SwedenSolo
2010Untitled Galleri GKM Siwert Bergstrom, Malmo, Sweden Solo
2010UntitledCraighead & Green Gallery, Dallas, TXSolo
2010UntitledGalerie Jane Griffiths, Val d'Isère, FranceSolo
2010UntitledJasmine Fine Art Gallery, SingaporeSolo
2010Untitled1021 Designcenter AB, Löderup, SwedenSolo
2010UntitledGalleri Bergström , Båstad, Sweden Solo
2010Untitled Craighead Green Gallery, Dallas, TXGroup
2010UntitledGalerie Jane Griffiths, Val d'Isère, FranceGroup
2010UntitledJasmine Fine Art Gallery, SingaporeGroup
2010UntitledGalleri Bergström , Båstad, SwedenGroup
2010Untitled1021 Designcenter AB, Löderup, SwedenGroup
2010UntitledGalleri GKM Siwert Bergström, Malmö, SwedenGroup
2010UntitledKalmar Slott (Castle of Kalmar), SwedenGroup
2010UntitledGalleri GKM Siwert Bergström, Art Anglais, Stockholm, SwedenGroup
2009Untitled Galleri Victoria, Halmstad, SwedenSolo
2009UntitledKonstgalleri Vättern, Motala, SwedenSolo
2009UntitledGalleri Backlund, Göteborg, SwedenSolo
2009UntitledSteninge Slott Kulturcenter, Märsta, SwedenSolo
2009Untitled Galleri Victoria, Halmstad, SwedenGroup
2008Untitled Gallery Luc Pieters, Knokke-Heist, BelgiumSolo
2008Untitled Galleri GKM Siwert Bergstrom, Malmo, Sweden Solo
2008UntitledGalleri Strand, Borgholm, Sweden Solo
2007UntitledGalleri Bronda, Helsinki, FinlandSolo
2007UntitledCraighead & Green Gallery, Dallas, TX Solo
2007UntitledEdsvik Art Hall, ”Retrospectiv” Sollentuna, SwedenSolo
2007UntitledHooks- Epstein Galleries, Houston, USA Solo
2006Untitled Galleri GKM Siwert Bergström, ArtParis, Paris, FranceSolo
2005Untitled The second International Beijing Art Bienale, ChinaSolo
2005UntitledCraighead & Green Gallery, Dallas, TX Solo
2005UntitledGalleri GKM Siwert Bergström, Art Paris, FranceSolo
2005UntitledLilian Heidenberg Gallery, New York, USASolo
2004 All Wrapped UpHooks-Epstein Galleries, Houston, TXSolo
2004UntitledCraighead & Green Gallery, Dallas, TX Solo
2004UntitledGalleri Smedbyn, Huskvarna, SwedenSolo
2004UntitledGallerie Alain Blondel, Paris, FranceSolo
2004UntitledGalleri Bronda, Helsinki, FinlandSolo
2003UntitledSwedish Embassy, Tokyo, JapanSolo
2003UntitledGallery Kato, Tokyo, JapanSolo
2003UntitledGalleri Infra, Upplans-Väsby, SwedenSolo
2003Untitled2002 Galleri Bergman, Stockholm, SwedenSolo
2002UntitledFalsterbo Art Hall, SwedenSolo
2001Untitled Falsterbo Art Hall, SwedenSolo
2000UntitledGallerie Alain Blondel, Paris, FranceSolo
2000UntitledGalleri Bronda, Helsinki, FinlandSolo
2000UntitledSteninge Palace, Stockholm, SwedenSolo
1994UntitledWaddington and Corse Gallery, Montreal, CanadaSolo
1993UntitledSwedish Embassy, Tokyo, JapanSolo
1992UntitledGalerie Marie-Louise Muller, Lormondreche, SwitzerlandSolo
1991UntitledGalleri Bronda, Helsinki, FinlandSolo
1990UntitledGalerie Marie-Louise Muller, Commondreche, SwitzerlandSolo