A Visit from a Far Away Galaxy

Eddie Figge’s paintings from the 1989 São Paulo Biennale should be shown in schools as proof that our planet has had visitors from a distant civilisation.

Eddie Figge, Farväl mitt 1900-tal (Farewell My 20th Century), mixed media and collage on canvas, 213 x 295 cm, 1993–94.

I came across Swedish painter Eddie Figges’s (1904–2003) work quite late in her life, a few years into my own practice. She entered like a whirlwind. Like something pulsating. Stirred things up. Disappeared, and came back from time to time. Each time, it was as is if the world went from black and white to colour. Hubble, eat your heart out. Eddie Figge was here!

Figge’s paintings are like instructions, or manuals. Movements captured in images. Messages carved. Faded by the sun and worn from their journey. The paintings are detached. As if the surfaces themselves are just reflections of something else, below or above us. Their motifs have sunk into the material. All that is left are remnants of human presence: a thread; a stick; a piece of metal. The motifs have long been out of reach. Sent on a mission in the great space we call Space. It’s as if the paintings were launched into orbit. Or, rather, sent off like mute satellites. Companions on Voyager II. It may sound grandiose. But then keep in mind that Figge is among the greatest we have.

Sometimes, I think of her paintings as large spaceships. Dreaming that I can join them on their journey. I wake up and realise that the paintings are here – on Earth. It may seem exaggerated, but it is completely true. The realisation that Eddie Figge’s paintings are on the same planet as I am, under the same sky, makes me shiver and my stomach tingle. The paintings from her participation in the 1989 São Paulo Biennale should be shown in schools as proof that we’ve had visitors from a distant civilisation. Her retrospective at Liljevalch’s Konsthall in Stockholm in 2003, at the age of 99, can serve as an argument that it is possible to achieve eternal life. On 1 June 2021, the US Department of Defense will release all its secret documents on extra-terrestrial life. Will Eddie Figge’s name be in there?

– Oskar Hult (1986) is an artist living in Stockholm. He is trained at Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Vienna, and The Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm. In june, he has a solo exhibition at Galleri Arnstedt in Östra Karup, Sweden.