Artist gets Sweden all wired up

Artist gets Sweden all wired up
For every Local reader there's a Local Story. This month Jonquille Okhiria introduces an artist who has carved out a niche for himself in Sweden.

Born in Paris in 1970 and raised in Buenos Aires, Eka Acosta is a French-Argentine artist who has spent the last ten years of his life in Sweden. While studying and travelling in Europe, Acosta met a Swedish girl in London and followed his heart to Stockholm three years later.

“We were in love, she was pregnant and I liked the idea of raising a family in Sweden. It is ideal with all the facilities it has to offer. Now I am here with two kids.”

While his fellow students struggled to get their heads around the Swedish vowel system, Eka sailed through the Swedish for Immigrants (SFI) course.

“After one year at SFI, I had learned basic Swedish. But then of course it took many years to get a real grasp of the language.

“For me it was easy from the beginning as I speak other languages, so I had those as a reference and some of the words are similar. I found it interesting and I thought it was important. It’s the first step if you want to integrate into the culture.”

Having come from a lively South American background and been part of the social scene in vibrant cities such as Paris and London, Eka found the social aspects of Swedish life to be his greatest challenge.

“In London I had a lot of friends and was part of a big group of people all the time and it was the same even in the other countries I have lived in. Coming to Sweden, I found myself alone. It still is a challenge. Even if you know people it’s hard. It’s part of life here in Sweden.”

Ten years on, he has become one of the most sought after artists in Stockholm.

“I didn’t start out wanting to be an artist. I actually wanted to be a marine biologist and studied biology at home in Argentina. I have always had a love of animals and nature.”

While helping his cousin out in the interior design and decoration business in Argentina and Paraguay, Eka’s career took an unexpected turn. He started to develop an interest in art and discovered steel mesh and wire after being asked to make some birds using the material.

“I started making things for fun with wire. One day they asked me to make some birds for their autumn/winter season using mesh wire and dried plants for feathers. Those birds became a huge success and I was then asked to make some Easter decorations.”

Eka found a natural mode of expression in steel netting and wire sculptures.

Inspired by his passion for nature and animals, he used the steel wire to bring his subjects to life by creating a 3D form that is both visually open and airy.

“I experimented with the medium and developed my own technique by bending the mesh with hands and pincers to shape forms and volumes in order to give more life, personality and movement to the animals.

“It was interesting because it was new and different, particularly in the way I work with this material.”

After years of perfecting his technique, Eka has firmly established himself as a wire sculptor with exhibitions at prestigious venues in Sweden including Liljevalchs Spring Salon, a permanent display at Svenskt Tenn, a solo exhibition at Naturhistoriska Riksmuseet and a display at Agatha Ruis in Paris.

But the road to success has not been easy, as it takes more than talent to make it as an independent artist in Sweden.

“It’s not easy. Here you have to be commercial to survive as an artist.

Everyone follows trends and is afraid of breaking the rules, but I have been lucky as I found a way to express myself that has not been seen here.

“In the beginning, no one knew me so they didn’t take me seriously and would not give me an exhibition. Now doors are open to me.”

Eka has recently completed a big commission for global company Ångpanneföreningen (ÅF Group) where he was asked to make an animal for each room of their new head office in Stockholm.

“It was an interesting project. Each animal represented a country that the company is present in.”

He is now eager to get back to his ongoing series ‘Eka-logical Hunting Trophies’ were he uses the steel wire mesh to create life size heads of wild game, as a cruelty-free alternative to the traditional hunting trophy.

“My intention is to help preserve these majestic animals by immortalizing their beauty and awakening their spirit with steel wire mesh, as an alternative to a ‘dead’ animal head on the wall.”

With Stockholm, Paris and possibly London to add to his impressive CV, where to next for Eka and his life size steel wire animals?

“Japan – I feel my sculptures belong to the way in which they see art. It’s very much like Sweden. They have the same feeling about art as Nordic people, minimalism, nature and the design. I know they will love my sculptures in Japan.”

If you would like more information about Eka Acosta and his life size steel wire animals see www.ecaacosta.com