mellow cello tone


Article by Stig Ake Staalnacke, art critic, a member of the AICA



A Mellow Cello Tone

These are words about art I have met and artworks which broadened my mind. It is about art which brightens up Light and occurantly releases a memory inside of me. A memory I did not realize the possession of, and which reveals unconscious or long forgotten experiences.
Occasionally - when I watch the pictures here described - I have experienced my reality conveyed a higher and different dimension. And for a few seconds this fragmentary feeling becomes a glass of pure source water.

The hand leading the brush or the chalk is the tool of the soul. It is a prolongation of the most internal feeling. The arm and the hand moves - slowly or snappy as a lightening - across canvas and paper, and wonders occure.The secret of Man has spoken.

The more I watch the images of Theis Eljas the more I understand, that painting never is about surface, but really and only about sacrifice, rite, prayer, and the reflections of the spirit.

How easy to remember the white Swedish Winter’s day that met me at my first closer acquaintaince with his art. Lots of snow has fallen and the air was biting, clear and cold.

The pictures in his studio were enriched with shadows and hi-lights, shimmer and lust, with yearning and with all the magic of the unspoken.

Theis Eljas is working in the landscape of Myth. He turns his face towards the viable and refuses to get manipulated by trends or the fashion boys’ parades.

This was my  impression when i first viewed his art in a Malmoe gallery in Sweden. I saw art rehabilitated, in an epoque of artistic development taking the opposite direction; towards desolation and desolution, and  - to speak frankly - towards ugliness.

That day in Malmoe and the white day in Axhult restored my opinion of art’s ability to produce air to breathe and life to live.

Theis Eljas never allows his pictures to be servants of the glittering and surficial life. He is travelling into the past and - first of all - into his inner self. He wonders who is the queen of our soul and he lets his spirit rejoice from the music of Mendelsohn.

And without any obvious reflections about how it happened, a picture suddenly appeared. A painting from his hand growing into a dull and - at the same time - ringing tribute to all the ladies in our hearts and all the music, making our lives possible.

Somewhere at that level his art steps into my life, and there - somewhere-  he performs a miracle. From a heart - yearning and warm - through an arm and out into a hand holding a chalk goes the miracle. Then establishing itself in an image - indeed hard toreach sometimes, but when you do, it will bring you more of magic, poetry and intoxication in life.

It is almost embarrasing clear, that an artist of Theis Eljas’ kind becomes a strange bird on our art scene. Well, he never tried to find the tricks and the cheap gimmicks to seduce. On the contrary. He has meditated his way forth towards an outlook on life, absorbing the riches of mental life and has held up his hand against the injurable. This life structure, these insights have brought forth a man in balance. Theis Eljas does not have a lack of temper, and fortunately he is an ordinary poor man with all of the poor man’s defectiveness.

But I dare proclaim, that Theis Eljas - in his painting - points out a kind of refinement path to the spirit. If that is possible to understand right...

Approximately like this: Eljas’ pictures describes the grandiose and almost sacred in being human.

The figures of his art own a tranquil dignity. Certainly they are living in a caleidoscopic and almost chaotic world. But these are beings dealing with our emotions. His art describes an environment, which can only be found in the core of our consciousness and at the bottom of our souls.

Sometimes I have experienced Theis Eljas’ figures as an original people, a race of the ultimately naked human and the pictures as an echoe of times long past, but still ringing inside of us all.

When I met the pictures of Theis Eljas I went through a door. I have been on my way towards that door for a long time. Now I stood just outside, and I entered his rooms.

Expressive and warm-hearted his world of peculiarities stood before me. i was not looking for something to lean on. What i have yearned for was an emotional travel. A travel towards my inner self. soon I realized, that in these images I could start my self-exploration.

Why am I so attracted to pictures? What is the magic of good pictures? What can be expressed in pictures that cannot be put into words? Why pictures, and not the Bible or the Koran?

I involuntarily “stuck” in certain paintings of his. He painted an apparently simple musician. But it was not really an ordinary portrait of this musician. He was a symbolic substitute for the soul of music, and it never stopped vibrating a dull tone, a cello stroke in the artwork...

occassionally, I have a great lust for a very simple description of complexities. Concerning the paintings of Theis Eljas this is not an easy matter.

Anyway, I know, that nothing of intellectualism or education are needed to be attracted or touched by his art. All you need is an open mind. You will have to believe that art has a meaning, and that art never is decor, if you want to reach the core of his painting. Perhaps you must actually proclaim your rights to join his song.

This is probably the very condition to capture his work.

Well, i have confirmed - once again - that images are able to say what words cannot. I saw - and most of all felt - that Theis Eljas’ painting touched the unspeakable in my soul. From this source derives a magical and mythical power.

A painting is often a colored square. Or black and white.

So is even a love-letter.Iit is square, small and often very simple.

But yet it is able to open sluices, call forth tears, gild lives.

Same thing with paintings. And that is that.

And precisely the same with the pictures of Theis Eljas. Enough said.

With words I shall never be able to capture or frameor interpret a work of art. Words can never - and I say never - give justice to a painting.

But words are able to communicate with art works. Words can answer an artwork as the echo answers the shout in the valley. or as one bird answers the other. This very personal and really the only possible relation has occured between me and Theis Eljas’ person and his pictures.

The person Theis Eljas may occasionally be just as square and confused as I am.

But the pictures signed Eljas dance like the shadows on a Midsummer’s Night and like the candle flame in dark evenings. The figures are dancing and humming and whispering words of tenderness in my ear...

Stig Ake Staalnacke, art critic, Malmoe, Sweden