Skog 2001 - 2024, beyond the border.

Skog 2001 - 2024, beyond the border.

Viewed from my oeuvre, Skog from 2001, made 23 years ago as part of a series of drawings in the same similar format; Political drawings because they show wildernesses and natural phenomena at a time when abuse and attacks on nature were at least as disturbing as they are today. This goes back further to the Club of Rome report, Limits to Growth (1972)

The experience of ending up in a place during walks is the experience of ‘the power of place’, which hooks into memory. What I see became a concept; I saw symbolism in it, a contradiction, a boundary…. I often felt the real ‘sense of home of the natural house’. I experienced the sublime.

The sublime is now the drawn-out subject of all my work.

I represented the encounters with - and insights through - the sublime and the representation of place in pictorial neo-romantic style drawn landscapes and scenes. Vista’s in boundary weaving works. Skog is a document of a primeval forest in sweden that is a conserved place, isolated in a new kind of wilderness; the mirkwood of production forest deserts. Such a place holds a subject that becomes understanding. In Skog, that is a frozen winter world thawing into the slow spring in the north. In the water reflection, we see the frozen state mirrored in an iron-rich blood-soaked fens in which, in the deep shallows, we see life returning. The work represents that moment in time; Framing accentuates composition and viewing lines and acts as a window into uplifting aspects and meanings of nature and landscape.

‘The inspiration created by an exotic yet brutal environment is transformed into charcoal and chalk in large-format drawings. The image exists in a balance between the act of drawing and the pursuit of depicting reality. The mark-making seeks solutions and creates a process that seems to direct itself. The drawing, like nature itself, is an order that emerges from chaos. This process builds a motoric memory. Solutions of handwriting group together as self-similar shapes. The detail forms the essence from which the final image is built in high density.’ (2005)

‘Within the current economic, political and social context in which fear seems to dominate, the dynamics of the Sublime can be particularly relevant. The Sublime can help describe the contemporary dejection of the ‘condition humaine’, but also help formulate a constructive response to it. The Sublime is about the experience of man who dares to confront that which is beyond his understanding and knowledge, and tries to give meaning to it. It could offer an alternative to the threat of madness and the possible disintegration of society.’ (E.O.2016)

Drawing and Photography. I only work with my own photographs. Drawing and photography are inseparable in the working process. The representation could be a form of ‘extended photography’ instead of ‘Photo Realism’.

Material: In the large performative in-situ works, I have discovered charcoal as a coarse physical material. In the studio, I do not use the drawing materials to show them recognisably as a material; The character of the material is totally secondary to the image I prefer to show and make 1 on 1…( the mark-making seeks solutions). On the illusory level during the public’s encounter with the walker’s drawn nature, the large format is inescapably the only way to disappear into it, be absorbed into it and at the same time be thrown back by a dark inaccessibility.

I may no longer even recognise how I made a work. The work is the representation, in the work-process the will of the work reveals itself and I am only an assistant. Only when the work is finished and has been looked at long enough do I celebrate the brief moment of my artistic ego, do I know whether the engagemant with the subject has succeeded after which I ‘lose’ the work and it becomes part of (art) history as a thing in itself…

Meanwhile: Any material is apt to remain subordinate in my opinion. I choose the material that ‘suits me’. Charcoal is the same for the draughtsman as clay is for the sculptor. Small, non-physical monumental drawings sometimes call for a finer material, that has to do with scale. But then there was the challenge of making a monumental work with that fine material (Ridisegno 2022). That had to become, in the service of the sculpture, a monk’s work; That gave me a new deepening experience. The experience of time is important here on multiple levels of meaning. The monk’s prayer brought me a summary dialectic about borders; the so-called ‘border ontological reflection.’ (E.O. 2024)

The paradigm in which my work emerges.

Labour craft process meaning

image concept execution

organisation execution time

role distribution interaction ambition

work ego loss

meaning stage public

The process is the execution. That takes place after the organisation. In execution, I assist in what the drawing wants; how the manuscript generates from the concept; role assignment. Time amplifies this into experience in the memory of the craft. This is labour. My ambition and growing meaning feed my persistence; obsessively. There is a division of roles and, as the process progresses, an interaction. In the final phase of the work, there is room for the ego which reinforces the meaning of the concept. The concept is the first image that manifested in my mind’s eye. Craft process and interaction create the image that in its appearance is more and different from the mind image that once presented itself…. Ego, image and meaning merge in the final stage of the work, and when the work is finished. Then the distance to the work arises and I find myself losing the work. Eventually the work gets a stage and an audience, and something happens with the meaning too; The meaning the audience puts into it, what the audience feels, and any real meaning is understood… but it is what it is, no more and no less.

The will creates the principles, the contours…. That is the will of the image that showed itself to me and my will to turn that image into message. (E.O.2023)

Viewed as an object of desire, my drawn and filmed narrative is about shifts in work and content. About change, usually projected through feeling, which becomes a task. Through the task, new feeling and conviction emerges, after catharsis and crisis, from desperation and ‘escape’.


craving intimacy muse


the synthesis

(in) the offing<

Erik Odijk Nijmegen 23 April 2024.

’ The painter Ernst Wilhelm Nay: ‘We cannot be arrogant and arrange nature to our liking, we can only look at nature, experience it; wait for it to let us in, wait for us to enter it.’ These rules also seem to apply to Erik Odijk’s work. The artwork as a reflection as well as an ode to nature.

Continuing to the edge of the drawing, where it threatens to become unbounded. Where lines and stains push and suck us back. The space where we disappear into the undergrowth.’ (anne bruggenkamp)

Statement: Erik Odijk’s oeuvre is important because of its terse depiction of one of the great subjects of our time: the changing perception of nature. In his work, he catches the split feeling of the nature traveller, who knows that every step he takes may harm this environment but who nevertheless cannot resist the call of the wilderness. The inner contradiction experienced by this artist/traveller comes out convincingly in his texts on the current call for nature in our culture. In his text for the ‘Power of Place’ study tour in the United States in 2007, Erik Odijk writes:

‘Arcadian duality is a theme I am immersed in. The two kinds of Arcadia: rugged and lovely, dark and light…. The pastoral Arcadia of good taste, harmony and appropriate forms versus the wild, rugged and disturbing Arcadia like a wilderness. There was and still is a need for both forms. Many urban and landscape parks in urban areas fit into the lovely Arcadia; they are places for relaxation, recreation and social intercourse. Social places with social trees, social hills and social water features supported by social amenities and infrastructure. There is also a renewed need for ‘wild nature’. The trend is to transform our arcadian agricultural cultural landscapes into wild nature. People are breaching dykes, creating riverine forests exposed and shaped by natural violence, complete with self-referential ‘wild animals’. Where is the boundary between the ordered and safe landscape of gardens, parks and cultural landscapes and the rugged, wild ‘inhospitable’ landscape that so many fear? Is that boundary even there?’ (Mark Kremer)

Translated with (free version)