This week, we took the opportunity to visit the Lars Lerin Exhibition at Liljevachs Konsthall in Stockholm. The centerpiece is a series of watercolour paintings on the ruins of Syria. They are hauntingly beautiful.
Haunting because of the reality they depict. Lars Lerin in an interview earlier this year: “I saw the news everyday, with this sad war. In the end, I couldn’t do otherwise but to paint it.”
Beautiful because of the incredible technique and portrayal. Lerin: “Unfortunately, it is quite picturesque with that terrible smoke and the ruins.”
The director of the art gallery wrote the following caption displayed in the room: Focus on bombed-out terror and darkness. Towns demolished beyond comprehension. The madness of war. Not a day goes by without us seeing unreal images on the television screen. We note the destruction of Syria, but it is too immense to grasp, so we switch off and move on. Lars Lerin makes us see again. He fixes the horror in the fleeting medium of the watercolour. He makes the devastation terrifying but also beautiful. With his unsurpassable technique he forces us to pause and with his art he makes us acknowledge that which we wish to suppress. (Mårten Castenfors, Director of Liljevachs Konsthall)
We switch off and move on. The artist makes us see again. The war, the destruction, the injustices.
As deacon and blogger Lawrence Klimecki puts it: “The prophet serves his community by speaking or interpreting the Word of God to God’s people, even if the people or community disregard the words or actions of the prophet.”
I don’t have the impression that Lars Lerin has a pronounced faith in God. But he sure points us in the same direction as God’s Word does.