I don’t know about you, but the burst of first buds always refreshes hope anew for not just novel ways of seeing and doing. It wholeheartedly pledges an originality that betters those that have come before; catalyzing and spreading the ignited complexities of positive synergies and emotions – even tears shed are those of not only uplifting relief, but more often of undiluted joy.
The art to sample in this season’s splendid arrival of colourfully energized renewal should exemplify the quintessential essence of such fortuitous sentiments for not just oneself. They are to be generously imbibed in good cheer with a multitude of others far and near.
Artist: Ai Weiwei
Where: Galerie Forsblom, Karlavägen 9
When: Till 26 March
China-based artist and activist Ai Weiwei’s works oscillate between the rich iconography of Chinese history, contemporary expressions and artistic predecessors and collaborators; with those in the exhibition also mirroring both injustice and yet hope in today’s society.
Converging at the core of his political and social topics are Conceptual Art, Minimalism, Zen Buddhism, along with Andy Warhol and the non-elitist expressions of pop art, and the revolutionary aesthetics of Dadaism.
During the avant-garde Ai’s decade in New York in the 1980s, his social circle that included Allen Ginsberg and Wang Keping birthed his familiarity with Marcel Duchamp‘s oeuvre; inspiring him to adopt an attitude of constantly challenging genres and questioning imposed limitations on art and mankind; birthing his conceptual work “Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn” in 1995 – an act of destruction documented through a series of three analogue photographs shortly after his return to China, symbolizing a Chinese society during times of dramatic change through societal transformations, with the recorded action as that of hope.
Included in this exhibition is Ai’s recreation of “Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn” with LEGO bricks.
Hence, Ai’s artistry is visual representation closely linked to the dealings of the activist; displaying the boldness often associated with significant artistries and a dedication to fighting injustice. Like his LEGO rendition, the other exhibited artworks revolve around the pre-conditions and problems that emerged in the fracture between ancient Chinese history and the Maoist Cultural Revolution; highlighting contemporary issues like the refugees’ journey across the Mediterranean to escape the horrors of Syria’s ongoing war.
In reworking ancient artifacts or through modeling sculptures greatly sensitive towards classical techniques, Ai creates a distillate of historical and contemporary aesthetics where iconoclasm and reverence converge to endow critical perspective as well as abundant elegance on his comments on contemporary political matters and global commerce.
Consequently, his exhibited films, photographs, sculpture, architecture and curatorial works become instruments of change – all in the effort to instill hope and courage and to really make the world a better place.
Exhibition & Artist: Martin Jacobson
Where: Andréhn-Schiptjenko, Hudiksvallsgatan 8
When: Till 4 March
The over 40 oil paintings, aquarelles and objects presented in a classical salon display are interpretations of previously made collages by Martin Jacobson; which are composite images collected from the scrap heap of visual culture – reproductions of reproductions, postcards, and illustrations from books for children and scientists, as well as about history.
The resultant paintings superficially appear to bear the handiwork of many, from those with the modesty of children’s book illustrators to others recalling art historical iconography; resulting in an eclectic imagery, simultaneously familiar and unknown. Yet running beneath the surface is Jacobson’s interest in dreams as a form of personal myths and myths as collective dreams.
Artist: Mafune Gonjo
Exhibition: Room of Her Shadow
Where: Galleri Charlotte Lund, Johannes plan 5
When: Till 4 March
Working with glass by combining pieces and shards to interplay light and shadow, Stockholm-based Japanese Mafune Gonjo’s exhibition shows unique sculptures where the design resides thematically in a tangible narrative from a very personal home setting.
A scenography spatiality with acute symbolism is thus generated – the sculptures, some in the form of classical feminine and masculine attributes, display the multifaceted material’s reference to human emotions and actions enhanced by the narrative; highlighting the medium’s sharp, fragile and beautiful character infused by varying transparencies, resulting in works oscillating between object and shadow with the shifting surrounding light.
Exhibition & Artist: Josefin Lindskog
Where: YA! – Young Art!, Karlavägen 5
When: Tentatively till 28 February (contact the gallery to get the latest on the closing date: http://youngart.se)
By the means of meticulously drawn graphite images of her body and its oddities, Josefin Lindskog not only confirms her existence, she screams it out for all to hear – of a status of abstraction where her skin turns into landscapes of deep crevasses and unidentified shapes; depending on how closely she looks.
Her art is thus about the body as a site for creating identity as well as the dichotomy of how it is perceived by oneself and others – she views her own body with mixed feelings: pleasure in knowing it can perform miracles, and fear over how it can betray her by silently carrying deadly diseases or letting her down in the most crucial moments.
Lindskog’s artistic process becomes her private means of taking back control of her own body, by allowing it to transgress its boundaries into other spaces and rooms; rendering herself in ways where her humour becomes disarming through its evocation of affinity and recognition; all the while publically inviting us to privately create meaning in her images from our own experiences that make our own bodies both universal and highly unique.
Artist: Catharina Gotby
Where: CFF – Centre for Photography, Tjärhovsgatan 44
When: Till 5 March
Despite the difficulty, Catharina Gotby is interested in capturing what is not seen, of what is below the surface – photographing tremendously intense, charged, furious, brutal and violent uncontrollable tears in the ground; uncovering openings to the earth.
The soil’s thin layers become witness to the site’s geographical ancient history that preceded the evolution of man on earth; and concurrently carrying traces of him – hints of love and hate as wounds arise from a love that is now gone; leaving behind the remains of what was, along with the equally distressing effects of betrayal and loss.
Artist: Timothy Greenfield-Sanders
Exhibition: The Trans List
Where: Wetterling Gallery, Kungsträdgården 3
When: Till 25 March
Timothy Greenfield-Sanders started working on The List series over 10 years ago. The first – The Black List – documented on film explorations of race, identity and achievement in the African-American community. Two other volumes followed, whose completion demanded an even broader reach to capture stories from other marginalized communities. The Latino List, The Out List and The Women’s List were thus realized; opening a floodgate of interviews, portraits, films, museum shows and books made on The List series’ deeply captivating meditation on race, gender, class, sexuality and ethnicity.
Showcased at this exhibition is Greenfield-Sanders’s latest work, The Trans List – of 11 portraits of transgender Americans and a HBO-funded documentary film – where persons portrayed share their insights on trans rights, the fight for equality, and their personal struggles and accomplishments.
Artist: Hanna Kanto
Exhibition: Terra Incognita
Where: Domeij Gallery AB, Luntmakargatan 52
When: Till 11 March
Tornio-born Haparanda-based Hanna Kanto has the minimalistic and inhospitable Lapponian landscape and its people as reference points for her art. Norrland is a red thread through her creative process as she lives and participates in the local industry in Northern Sweden – a place of strong contrasting dark winter nights with thousands of stars, and magical summer nights with swarms of mosquitoes, deserted houses, unemployment, magic and nostalgia.
Kanto wanders through the Norrland landscape, skis in the mountains and breathe the polar wind before entering her studio to define her place in the totality of living and dwelling as a woman in Norrbotten over and over again, using Tokyo’s unique figurative language to expand the Nordic reality through a diversified and experimental exploration of colour’s eternal capacity through the wielding of the airbrush in acrylic and oil – building on contrasts where the opposite completes the story.
Exhibition & Artist: Jonathan Lasker
Where: Bohman-Knäpper, Sturegatan 36
When: Till 18 March
There is no better way to describe American Jonathan Lasker’s art than quoting the artist himself, who says, “A critic once wrote that my work asked the same question of its viewer that John Q. Public would ask when looking at an abstract painting. The question being, “What is that supposed to be?” What the critic, Stephen Westfall, meant was that although my forms are abstract, my paintings give viewers suggestions to help them perceive pictorial images in my paintings. Suggestion, of course, being the only way one sees images in a painting, even if the painting is supposedly “realistic”.”
Artists: Susanne Johansson, Johanna Karlsson & Petra Lindholm
Exhibition: Under horisonten / Below the Horizon
Where: Galleri Magnus Karlsson, Fredsgatan 12
When: Till 19 March
Developed through a long dialogue among Susanne Johansson, Johanna Karlsson and Petra Lindholm, the works resonate with each other and bring up mutual investigations despite different expressions and techniques. Nature is the scenography that plays the lead in their practices; with all having their point of departure in the self-studies presented from the diverse landscapes or nature, and with everyday meetings or memories transformed in the studio into timeless reflections with a wider perspective.
Throughout human history the horizon has been the most obvious limitation of our consciousness, as a limit of our sight, knowledge and sense of security. “Below the Horizon” is not a land in twilight where the sun does not rise. It is rather a state of multiple layers of time, where past times search for a place in the world’s chronology together with times to come. How do we deal with current fateful reports about the state of the planet, all combined with mantras of growth, efficiency and ignorance of science?
“Below the Horizon” is hence a place where the current accelerating situation is slowed down and sorted into a greater narrative about planet earth, cosmos and eternity. Within the works on display, this place is found in nature. The ephemeral is frozen here for a moment and could peacefully be studied when juxtaposed to phenomenon as the tectonic plate movement or all the biological processes constantly evolving regardless of interference by civilization.
Artists: Karolina Hägg, Sarah Vedel Hurtigkarl, Machteld Lambeets, Sahar Tavasolian, Lina Pihl, Annika Nilsson, Saga Hedlund, Matilda Frid, Liao YuHsiang, Charlotta Lindvall, Lotta Grimborg, Lisa Fields, Victoria da Cruz, Amba Molly & Anna Nordström
Exhibition: Wunderkammer – 15 PERSPECTIVES ON CORPUS
Where: Konsthantverkarna, Södermalmstorg 4
When: Till 8 March
Wunderkammer is a concept born out of early European colonialism. With travel to new continents the European worldview became widened, embracing its description of the other regional blocks as “The New World”.
The 15 artists, based on a corpus practice and using different perspectives, materials and techniques, investigate where undiscovered continents can be found today. Maybe it is not about exploring the outer landmasses. But rather it involves looking towards a single region for what remains hidden behind habitual patterns and conformism through the form of a consumerist culture. And through that art can relate to their historical context while showing its potential as a platform for the exploration of contemporary material culture.
Artists: David Ohlsson & Dit-Cilinn
Where: Cecilia Hillström Gallery, Hälsingegatan 43
When: 23 February to 1 April
Having collaborated in exploring human existence and spirituality through elaborate objects, installations, and performances since 2009, David Ohlsson and Dit-Cilinn’s unique attention to detail and skillful combination of materials results in works that negotiate between present day urban life and a desire for something transcendent.
Having evolved around the concept of a hibernaculum or an incubator – a place for rest, introspective meditation and transformation, their exhibited site-specific installations and sculptures are physical poems uniting the primeval with the futuristic; a holistic forward-thinking approach combined with a responsiveness which may be found in animistic cultures – all the while presenting humans as a part of nature, playing an active role in their own evolution. So the past is a living foundation that is constantly recreated.
Artist: Viktor Rosdahl
Where: Christian Larsen, Hudiksvallsgatan 8
When: 23 February to 1 April
Viktor Rosdahl’s new works present a new direction in his detailed and time consuming dramatic and expressive landscape painting previously not shown in Stockholm.
Having revealed stories, methods, subjects and materials altered with a tender perspective on the individual, in the periphery of society, opposed to utopia and against a backdrop of monumental architecture and psychological and social vulnerability, he has now found a subject in the colors themselves, where the creative process reigns, where wet paint moves him out of time and space.
Artist: Astrid Sylwan
Exhibition: Mig driver en längtan – Yearning
Where: GALLERI ANDERSSON/SANDSTRÖM, Hudiksvallsgatan 6
When: 23 February to 1 April
Since her inaugural exhibition in 2005, Astrid Sylwan has held a prominent place in the Swedish art scene, with the language of painting her way of communicating. With her new “Yearning” paintings, she demonstrates a new vocabulary, having just reached the end of one chapter, and beginning a new other with a self-imposed self-determined restriction.
Her resulting highly abstract new found language confidently symbolises the male, modernist artistic genius, while ensuring historical conditions are never static. She is thus not afraid of the unknown. Rather welcoming the way it motivates the evolution of her oeuvre and questions her existing perceptions on painting.
In this way, she has expanded upon her lexicon, making it now more direct and tactile.
Artist: Cris Gianakos
Where: GALLERI ANDERSSON/SANDSTRÖM, Hudiksvallsgatan 6
When: 23 February to 1 April
A leading artist in geometric abstraction and minimalism, Greek-American Cris Gianakos´ 30 never-before-exhibited paintings from 1975 investigate the subtle nuances between color and form.
Discovered by chance during a recent visit in 2016 to Gianakos’ studio in New York by the gallerist Stefan Andersson, when he emptied all the contents of the overfilled cabinets on a wall that was at risk of falling, these 20 x 20 cm paintings had been created, packed nicely, and then just simply misplaced until recently.
Similar to many of his other works, they are a study in materials, of poetic expression, and a deep examination of the urban landscape in which Gianakos lived; “colorless” grisailles in the manner of Picasso’s Cubist collages and thus fall out of the Modernist logic trajectory that insisted that painting’s end point was a field of color.
His paintings instead might be considered a painterly iteration of bricolage, except there is color of a certain indoor weather, a time of night, library archive rooms, where the olive-cum-umber of linen is a mood, as are the dull silver grey of Sculpt Metal, copper’s warmth and the white of plaster.
Each can be seen a single unit of a larger grid. Each does something different but are joined into a larger unit by their shared diagrammatic and tactile scale.
Photo and information credits: The respective galleries and artists