Contemporary Swedish art: previous >
Viktor Rosdahl's darkly disquieting meditations on urbanism and the ideological outsider are laced with auto-biographical detail.
Elineberg 2020 (2010), for example, is a portrait of the Helsingborg housing estate in which he grew up. Other works consider the political and social ramifications of Sweden's industrial heritage (Rosdahl's grandfather was a farmhand, his father a welder). Elliptic emotional entanglements - although perhaps not the artist's own - are hinted at via dryly humorous titles such as Wedding Night at SKF, or My Years As A Soccer Wife.
This recycling of cultural and personal history is echoed by Rosdahl's habit of painting directly onto discarded materials such as broken plates, plastic bags or even a bridal veil.
This is often accompanied by 'damage' to the works inflicted in the form of splashes, hackings and stains.
As Rosdahl has stated, "out of the ruins can sometimes come new approaches", and such attacks embody an unlikely polarity: potential renewal as well as metaphorical decay. The sense of claustrophobia that pervades Rosdahl's practice is not without optimism; oppression in all its forms gives rise to possibilities for expansiveness, freedom and escape.
Recent, semi-abstract paintings in black and white both stifle and lure with their intricacies. Sculptural pieces appear (and often are) brutalised (below).
Providing gritty alternatives to the idealised vision of Sweden that prevails among those who don't live there, Rosdahl's work is both universal and localised in its compass; a withering view of contemporary society, but one imbued with a surprisingly romantic spirit.
The fundamental ordinariness Hans Lannér chooses to depict is shaped into something extraordinary through his facility with paint and evident pleasure in using it.
At the risk of over-urging the artist's unassuming configurations, their subject matter and treatment finds echoes in the idea of the Joycean epiphany or Woolfian moment: a transcendence of the everyday through sudden insight into its poetic potential. Lannér's small, pale-hued canvases have no obvious agenda other than to share or initiate such experience.
While recognising the artist's quest for simplicity, however, it would be wrong to underestimate the stylistic complexity involved. Such apparently casual, fluid mark making is tied to highly disciplined composition: Lannér's pictorial space is one in which small areas of focus are offset by omissions or suggestive washes, a skill shared by the likes of Craigie Aitchison.
Lannér makes no claim to the avant-garde, but his humble paintings are very accomplished indeed.
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