TR Ericsson, 1936-1942, 2023 / Courtesy the artist and TOTAH
TR Ericsson: Letters from Home
Sep 7 – Nov 4, 2023
New York, USA

TR Ericsson’s Letters from Home is at once archival, vestigial, and documentarian. Actual letters from Ericsson’s mother (who died by suicide in 2003) permeate the objects and situations he recreates across various media – ranging from oil paintings and screen prints, to pieces of powdered bone melted into raw linen and one nearly 1,000 pound granite sculpture.

While Ericsson’s photo-based recreations of family, friends, their heirlooms, their carefully arranged domestic interiors, are known for arriving at universal truths through the artist’s deeply personal relationship with his mother, Letters from Home invokes a particular sense of a place as much as history. In works like Day is Done, and The Fireplace, viewers pick up on some greater architectural precedent in relation to which an assortment of books on a bookshelf, or a fireplace studded with keepsakes, souvenirs, and mementos, comes to life as the expression of an actual dwelling place.

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Throughout Letters from Home, Ericsson is interested in a single person – his mother. He painstakingly recreates her letters, like gestural ciphers to her psyche, not so much out of loyalty, as out of love. Translating the particulars of his mother’s life into a universal sigil of complex social relationships – blurring the line between artifact and art, memory and the radiating expanse of history as it extends into an originary abyss – an ever-displaced sense of context reaches past the scrim of quotidian appearance towards a sheer involvement with the entropic nature of time. Ericsson’s exhumations bring to light an essential insight as articulated by the poet Li-Young Lee: “If love doesn’t prevail, who wants to live in this world?”

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