(Swedish, b. 1978)
Watercolor paintings of tranquil landscapes and emotive portraits of rock icons in acrylic appear to stand at odds. For one artist to specialize in such far ends of the visual spectrum seems extremely unlikely. But that is exactly what Peter Eugén Nilsson does.
Born in 1978 in Sweden’s forested Sundsvall, Peter grew up loving the quietude of nature. But like many youth of his time, he also enjoyed listening to the piercing sounds of rock and hard rock music.
Inspired by his fellow countryman and watercolor master Lars Lerin, Peter began his artistic career in 2001 with a concentration on hushed landscapes rendered via the soft touch of watercolors.
Once established as an artist in his hometown, he furthered his ambitions by moving to Stockholm in 2007. There, he transitioned to pop-style portraiture in acrylic paint, temporarily dropping landscapes from his repertoire.
“I primarily chose to paint rock icons that had an interesting story to tell. I read biographies about the artists to better reflect their expression and personality,” he says. “I’m fascinated by The Rolling Stones’ history and The Beatles’ timeless music.”
Just as rock music and those who perform it tend to exude a rough edge, Peter gives his subjects’ faces undeniable intensity. Particularly in his paintings of Stones members Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, he emphasizes wrinkles that mark hard-lived years. Other musicians he has profiled in imagery include Jimi Hendrix, Freddie Mercury, Slash, Kurt Cobain, Iggy Pop, Bob Dylan, and Amy Winehouse. His celebrity portraiture also reflects an interest in film actors and pop-icon Andy Warhol.
Eventually returning to watercolor landscapes, Peter proved that he could command two divergent styles simultaneously. In addition to multiple exhibitions in Sweden, his work has been shown in galleries and art shows in such culture-rich cities as London, Paris, Rome, Hamburg, Hong Kong, and New York.
Peter’s list of collectors and fans — including Bruce Springsteen, John Fogerty, Sean Connery, and his oft-painted subject Keith Richards — attest to his skill in painting faces with “truth”.