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Their clothes are colourful, their expressions shy, embarrassed, a little defiant – much like an average teenager forced to pose for a photograph. However, unlike the average teenager, their faces and bodies are covered in thick werewolf-like fur.

Erik Mark Sandberg blue
Boy With Camo Tee, 2009
Erik Mark Sandberg pink
Youth With Floral Headband, 2012
Erik Mark Sandberg navy
Girl With Magenta Sweater, 2009
Erik Mark Sandberg green
Youth With Floral Collard Sweater, 2010

On one hand there is a sense of nostalgia to Sandberg’s paintings, bringing to mind the faded vintage ‘freak show’ photographs of circus performers afflicted with Hypertrichosis, informally known as ‘werewolf syndrome’. However, the flashy colours – all synthetic sugary pastels and fluorescents – seem to contradict this.

Sandberg explains, the thick hair that covers his creatures isn’t real, but symbolic. Their furry faces act as a metaphor for the insecurities “that come with the pressures of transitioning into adulthood”. The hair shrouding their faces is a protective cloak, cocooning them – but is at the same time an affliction, making them more visible than they want to be. They are primal, not yet fully evolved.

Erik Mark Sandberg grey
Girl With Star Spangled Sweater Blue, 2011
Erik Mark Sandberg group photo
Girls With Hot Summer Fashion, 2011
Erik Mark Sandberg group
The Wraith, 2011

Text Emma de Clercq
Images courtesy of Erik Mark Sandberg Website


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