Art Vandals Background

Van Gogh in Lomma, 1996, by Felix Gmelin
After Bengt Sandberg and Erik Johansson (1995) Oil on canvas, 100 x 121 cm


The culprit is Erik Johansson, 78, convicted yesterday for staging an artistic coup in Lomma, near Malmö. He as found guilty of criminal damage, having painted over a picture at the service centre for the elderly. »The painting was complete rubbish. How can you damage an object that is completely worthless?« Johansson comments on the verdict.
Johansson has nothing good to say about the painting Yellow Field by Bengt Sandberg, an artist from Lund. The painting was bought by the community of Lomma in the late eighties and eventually found its way to the therapy section of the service centre at Havsblick.
It was there Johansson, a pensioner, came across the painting and decided to do something about it. Erik Johansson is an artist himself. Only a better one - at least that is what he thinks.
»It is one of the worst paintings I have ever seen. The picture lacks composition. It is dirty yellow, dirty green and dirty white. Real junk. It defeats me how anyone could stand for something like this,« Johansson says.
Last spring, Johansson took matters into his own hands. In the therapy section of the service centre, he painted five splendid sunflowers over Yellow Field.
»Many people wanted me to do it,« Johansson maintains. »Several well-known artists agree that I did the right thing.«
»And my painting was far better art. A woman offered ßve thousand crowns for it.«
Lomma's Secretary of Culture reported the incident. A police inquiry followed. And yesterday Johansson was summoned to Malmö's district court to face charges of criminal damage.
Johansson admits that he painted over another artist's work. But he insists that he did not commit a crime.
»What I did was purely a charitable act.«

From Kvällsposten, September 12, 1995