KÖHLER´S FEELING FOR ART

During the two years that passed since he graduated from Royal College of Fine Arts, 30 years old artist Peter Köhler has had several collective and individ- ual exhibitions, presented numerous editions of his own fanzine ¨Mascara¨ and published the book ¨Open¨. What holds the key to his sucess?

When Peter Köhler in 2001, after a year as an assistant to New York artist Donald Baechler, came back to Stock- holm, he brought hundreds of little drawings with him. Naive little doddles that in a short comic strip format act out scenes from the downside of life. In the book ¨Open¨ (Biondi Books), which consists of Köhler´s American drawings, there are scenes from reality interpret- ed in a highly personal manner. Here the viewer is proffered page after page of fragmented perceptions from a, to say the least, bizarre existence. ¨Really there are just as many weird types here in Sweden¨, Peter Köhler ex- plains. ¨But in the States things are a bit more extreme. When I wasn´t working as an assistant I would just be sitting around drawing. I also travelled around the States and drew what I perceived of what i saw. It was very stimulating¨.

The absurd permeates every page of ¨Open¨, and in looking at there is a dis- tance, but it is more often loving than scorning. Really there are as many themes as there are drawings, but some of theme are undeniably reoccuring: Kinky sex, how to handle depression, ironizing commercial messages and so on. In Peter Köhler´s consciously naive comic strips there is always a large portion of deliberate satire. ¨Certainly there is a sence of isolation in what I do¨, Köhler continues. ¨But it easily be- comes sterotyped when it is talked about. I have been affected by writers like William Burroughs an Isidore Ducasse, and in theire work there is de- finitely a sense of isolation and an ob- servation of the absurdities in life¨.

On a purely stylistic level there are certainly traces of the uncrowned king of underground comic strips; Robert Crumb. Köhler recounts how also the Swede Öyvind Fahlström and the French imagist Moreau have worked as sources of insperation. Moreover, painting occu- pies as much more of Peter Köhler´s time as drawing does. Recently he ex- hibited some of his paintings at Gallery Brändström & Stene in Stockholm, and he is now preparing paintings for an indiv- idual exhibition in New York next year. ¨I don´t work specifically for a part- icular exhibition, I just work all the time¨, Köhler says. ¨Exiting things are happening all the time. Sure, being an artist can be hard, but you have to keep your own ball rolling. That is what I am doing¨.