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Room to Move in the Tore A Jonasson Collection

Konsthall 16 launched its exhibition activities in 2019 with the exhibition Recollections of Sports, presenting new acquisitions for the Tore A Jonasson Foundation’s collection. All the acquired works relate in some way to sports and were made by contemporary Swedish artists. Since then, the collection has continued to grow, and the time has come to present the recent additions to the collection. The latest acquisitions represent a slight change; the time perspective has expanded with the inclusion of works by older artist generations closer to the artists Tore himself collected during his lifetime. These additions create a link between his original art collection and the new one that is gradually being created in his name.

One of the older artists whose works are now represented in the collection is Einar Jolin. A winter scene shows bandy players charging across the ice, with a couple of horse-drawn sleighs and a puffing steam engine in the background. The painting suggests cold that bites the cheeks and conveys the unique form of Expressionism that became so characteristic of Jolin’s works. Despite the bandy players, the title of the painting is Hockey, which has a historic explanation: this was what both bandy and ice hockey were called at the time when this painting was made. The term was used for both sports from the 1890s to the 1920s.

Another skating winter scene is Skaters #01.07. by Birgit Broms, one of her few favourite themes. Her subject matter may be limited, but instead she varies the composition almost endlessly. The volume of the bodies, the spaces between them, and the skaters’ movements together form a dynamic image that seems to be on the verge of escaping from the canvas.

In addition to winter scenes, the collection has also been enriched with a sports motif from the older generation, based on Greco-Roman imagery. Esaias Thorén’s Discus Thrower is from around the same period when Jolin painted his bandy players, but unlike the classical sculptures on this theme, Thorén’s gouache is in the cubist style he explored up until the early 1930s.

This focus on movement also characterises the recent acquisitions of works by contemporary artists. A link to the time when Jolin and Thorén were born is offered by Maria Andersson’s film The Model, portraying a gymnasium that was modern aound the previous turn of the century. Filmed in slow motion, the camera actually pans a model made in the late 1800s, which is on display in the exhibition Time at the Riksidrottsmuseet/National Sports Museum. The model was displayed at several world fairs, to demonstrate how gymnasiums were equipped for the exemplary Swedish gymnastics. Maria Andersson has explored Ling Gymnastics from the early 19th century and the role it played as a modernising project aimed at the massive influx of people to the cities from the countryside. The gymnasium was a place where urban moral decay and problems of the citizens could be solved and the nation fortified through varied physical exercise and discipline. The poetic and meditative narrative gives instructions on body positions and how the movements should be performed. The hall itself is also described, with wall bars and other equipment. Arch, balance, bend... movements and equipment are listed calmly and rhythmically, like a poem from A to Z, as the temperature in the gym begins to rise and cheeks go red.

The contemporary works also include Camilla Holmquist’s coloured pencil and dry-point portraits. After producing numerous drawings with speeding snowmobiles at the family’s cabin in Jämtland, Holmquist has focused since 2016 on portraits of politicians, athletes and other public figures. The Tore A Jonasson Collection now has a selection of Holmquist’s works, including several famous sports celebrities who were active from the 1970s to today. In addition to Ingemar Stenmark, Anja Pärson and Björn Borg, these include the Finnish ski jumping champion Janne Ahonen, and the legendary Bengt Grive, sports commentator at countless events. These personal portraits take us back to many highlights in front of the TV screen.

In her characteristic watercolours, Maria Nordin explores themes focusing on human beings, body and emotions. With large formats, far from the traditional small scale of the medium, and with a palette that approaches skin tones, she gives the viewer an enhanced physical experience of the image. The works also relate materially to the artist’s own body, since she paints by crawling across the huge sheet of paper, which has to lie flat to prevent the watercolours from dripping. The Embrace shows two men against a neutral background, captured in a frozen moment. An ambiguous image of a playful embrace, or a vice-like grip to get an opponent on his back, or perhaps both at the same time.

Klara Kristalova’s work explores human relationships, moods and emotional states, and nature is always close at hand. While her characters display a contrariness, far from traditional china figurines, they also have a darker side, of the kind we find in real life. Transformation and perpetual change are essential ingredients in her practice, and that also includes the viewer’s interpretation of her works. The glazed stoneware sculpture Touched by Horses conveys tenderness; the close affinity that can arise between rider and horse is well-known. But there is also an ambiguity involved. Depending on the viewer, the situation may appear either frightening or portray a state of total protection.

Two photography-based artists are represented in the new acquisitions. Although their approaches are entirely different, both focus on one of the world’s largest popular movements – football. Linda Hofvander uses an analogue large-format camera. Space, perception, and the relationship between the three-dimensional and the flat surface are her main topics. All her works are produced in the studio, whether they be wall paintings, textiles or, in the case of Bounce, a wire mesh that has been crumpled up in the middle. With one simple action, she creates an illusion suggesting specific movements in the room.

Anders Petersen operates in a totally different setting. Since the late 1960s, he has photographed people in urban environments, focusing on the individual. His unsentimental, black-and-white images in a documentary style portray existential encounters in restaurants and bars, or in institutions such as prisons or homes for the elderly all over Europe. The encounters are both between the photographer and his object, and between the viewer of the pictures and the depicted. In the snapshot from the bench by the football pitch, Fisksätra Sportsground 2017, Petersen conveys the sense of community that the sport can give, and a quiet moment beside the playing field after the game.

The title of this exhibition, Room to Move, seeks to embrace all these diverse interpretations of movement: physical motion, naturally, but also being emotionally moved, or touched. Once more, we invite you to enjoy an exhibition of works from the collection, in memory of Tore.

Ulrika Levén, curator