Karl Mårtens



The famous pianist Arthur Rubinstein was considered by many at the pinnacle of his career when he had reached his eighties. At that time he was almost blind. His own opinion about the matter was that he was no longer so concerned with playing without mistakes. The fact that he couldn’t see the keys properly forced him to rely on feeling rather than technique.

In Kyudo, Japanese archery, one teaches the idea of shooting with the heart (Kokoro in Japanese) instead of with the brain. One also speaks about mu shin—no mind—a state of mind where the intellect is” disconnected” from one’s actions. In Kyudo, this state of mind is manifested by an accuracy that cannot be achieved simply by learning to aim. Kyudo masters illustrate this by hitting the target dead center, at 28 meters (92 feet)—in total darkness.

Shih-t’ao, a revered Chinese painter during the 17th century, maintained that the artist must trust his or her own ability. Being receptive to impressions is more important than knowledge.

He also emphasized the importance of the first brush stroke. He called it “the holistic brushstroke”. It creates something where nothing was. Optimally it emanates from emptiness, void of thought.

I feel that these examples illustrate the strength of letting go of knowledge and intellect, and opening oneself to the unknown, and thereby getting in touch with one’s intuition. This is a parallel to Zen’s description of ”moving from emptiness”.

My belief is that intuition is simply the crystallization of all our knowledge and creativity. Perhaps it even contains inherited knowledge from several generations. When we are in contact with our intuition, or emptiness, we are not affected by all the limiting conditions that our intellect can give rise to; doubts, fears, expectations and performance-related anxiety. This way we also are in contact with our highest potential.

Through my painting I try to approach this state of mind by letting go of the knowledge, which is associated with my intellect, and instead act from emptiness. Hence, the purpose of my painting is more to train my mind for meeting all of life’s challenges—rather than creating art. And part of this training is to challenge my limitations and in as many ways as possible expose myself to the unexpected.



Kårl Martens video interview

Selected exhibitions


Selvatica Festival, Palazzo Gromo Losa, Biella.


Galleri Örsta Kumla, Svezia.

Galleri bergman, Gothenburg, Svezia.


Wykeham Gallery, Stockbridge, UK

Art Southhampton, Southampton, Long Island, New York, USA (Cricket Fine art Gallery)


Galleri Blå, Linköping, Svezia.

Galleri Backlund, Gothenburg, Svezia.

Cricket Fine Art Gallery, London, UK


Wykeham Gallery, Stockbridge, UK.

Tomarps kungsgård, Ängelholm, Svezia.

Galleri Ridelius, Visby, Svezia.

Galleri Stefan Larsson, Uppsala, Svezia.


Edsviks Konsthall, Stockholm, Svezia.

Lilla Galleriet, Umeå, Svezia.

Cricket Fine Art Gellery, London, UK.


Galleri Imma, Mariestad, Svezia.

Tomarps kungsgård, Ängelholm, Svezia.


Tomarps Kungsgård, Engelholm, Svezia.

Dansksvenska Kompaniet, Simrishamn, Svezia

Raulands Kunstforening, Rauland, Norvegia.

Ekerum Konsthall/Holmer Gallery, Ekerum, Svezia.

Konst & Folk, Stockholm, Svezia.

Iona House Gallery, Woodstock, UK.

Cricket Fine Art Gallery, London, UK

Galleri Ridelius, Visby, Svezia.

Galleri Stefan Larsson, Uppsala, Svezia.


Edsviks Konsthall, Stockholm, Svezia.

Galleri Eklund, Djursholm, Svezia.

Galleri Blå, Linköping, Svezia

Galleri Remi, Östersund, Svezia.

W.H. Patterson Gallery, London, UK

Galleri Stefan Larsson, Uppsala, Svezia.


Galleri Lindberg, Luleå, Svezia.

Galleri Henrik Gerner, Moss, Norvegia.

Konst & Folk, Stockholm, Svezia.

Galeri Jenzen, Aalborg, Danimarca.

Ulriksholm Slott, Odense, Danimarca.

Audubon Society, Rockland, Maine, USA

Galleri Sjöhästen, Nyköping, Svezia.

Galleri Flamingo, Falkenberg, Svezia.

Galleri Kim Anstensen, Gothenburg, Svezia.

Galleri Stefan Larsson, Uppsala, Svezia.


Galleri Linné, Uppsala, Svezia

Galleri Eklund Wallmark, Stockholm, Svezia

Lilla Galleriet, Umeå, Svezia

Galleri Blå, Linköping, Svezia

Swedish Embassy, Tokyo, Giappone

Galleri Ridelius, Visby, Svezia

Thereses Kunstsalong, Oslo, Norvegia


Galleri Edvard, Värmdö, Svezia.

Galleri Abante, Stockholm, Svezia.


Galleri Kroken, Nynäshamn, Svezia


Galleri Linné, Uppsala, Svezia.


Il National Geographic Magazine ha anche commissionato all’artista l’illustrazione dei numeri di Dicembre 2013 e Ottobre 2014.