And the bird flew boldly in search of its cage

Journalist Nina Solomin writes a review of The bird flew boldly in search of its cage by Lars Lerin.

With his calm thermal dialect and sincerity about vulnerabilities and human shortcomings, the watercolor painter Lars Lerin has walked straight into the hearts of the Swedish people in recent years.

He has become famous and loved as few, as a kind of art’s equivalent to popular Leif GW Persson.  In recent years, Lerin has his own television programs, he is awarded for the Male Television Profile of the Year, and he has created several books, of which Naturlära (2014) received the August prize. Last year the prize parade was crowned with a royal medal, Litterus et Artibus.

It is undoubtedly a funky but not uncommon combination: the blotting of an inner darkness and the potential of becoming popular. It’s easy to love great talent that depicts its edge-wise perception of the world, without adoring it. We can all recognize us in the shortcomings.

All the more exciting then, that the watercolor painter Lars Lerin, whose life story contains anxiety, addiction and destructiveness, in a new book meets watercolor painter Carl Larsson, famous for making his own image of the Swedish idyll through his paintings.

The really classic pictures of Carl Larsson,  like for instance “A Home” or “Other Children”, have almost become clichés. Lars Lerin writes in the introduction: “You have seen his watercolors (…) on so many framed reproductions and coffee baskets and Christmas papers that they are almost invisible. (…) Though they are so stupidly made and the line is so easy, I cannot stand the children’s eyes and all the sweetness… “

Yes, Lars Lerin’s own paintings undoubtedly contain a larger measure of darkness, and in this magnificent volume,, the reader is invited to explore the works of both artists.  Just browsing the pictures is a journey in itself. Larsson’s gray watercolors with beautiful harmony in color and design. Lerin’s magnificent lazy dark skies, his ice-lakes or forests, or dramatic letters.

There are also handwritten letters, reproduced in the art. And I’m sure the handwriting is so beautiful and today so unusual that it produces nostalgia. Lars Lerin has been using writing for a long time as part of his artwork, letters from travels, notes and pictures mixed in this book are just the cream of the cake.

The book contains some old letters by Carl Larsson, he writes primarily about the strong love of his wife Karin,  there are his daily letters to family and relatives, and they are, of course, not as existentially reflective as Lerin’s texts in the book.

The dark side of Carl Larsson, who was raised in a poor home in Stockholm during the second half of the 19th century, does not appear much in these documents, except in some pervasive detail. In a letter, for example, he asks hismother if she can afford a dress for his wedding – he being in France and he does not have a cent to send: “I have the worst business as usual.”

The idea of ​​bringing them together; one of today’s largest Nordic watercolor painters, with a lot of darkness in his artistry, and one from a hundred years ago with so much idyll in his artistry (August Strindberg accused Carl Larsson of having “lied together a character”) is certainly not stupid.

As a reader, you also get a little happier to experience this book.