The Arena – Tore A Jonasson
Sidan uppdaterades: 24 maj 2023
The arena is a place for public events, in sports, culture and politics. It is named after the Latin word harena, meaning the fine sand used in Roman amphitheatres. In those days, the events in the arena were a matter of life and death, and the sand had the dual purpose of covering the ground and soaking up the blood from the gladiator games. Today, the meaning of arena can be literal, a place for sports events, and figurative, a space for actively engaging in discussions or presentations, which most people in the arts do continuously.
Some of the works in this exhibition portray the actual stage, the arena, while others refer to more metaphorical places for existential, personal and poetic narratives. Three of them are very different from each other but all have ice skates as their motif.
Max Book’s painting Guogud shows a female skater in the fatal moment when she loses her balance and for a split second stops herself from falling by putting one hand on the ice. An instance where the aesthetic contrasts with the unaesthetic, or what he calls the breathless gap between what could be ugly and flat, and the indescribably beautiful, where sparks fly. Book bases his paintings on photographs that are digitally processed to heighten and warp the motifs. The surface is raw and often treated in various ways. Karin Wikström’s singular paintings spring from a narrative tradition where the small harbours the great, and where serious matters are conveyed with absurd comedy. Naive and slightly tousled imaginary characters populate her world, portrayed with barefaced rawness and gentle humour, scratching through the surface of our culture. In the painting Skridsko (Ice Skate), we meet the wide-open gaze of a dog-like figure who might be out on frozen deep waters, alongside a vaguely ominous grinning skate. Jarl Ingvarsson also features a skate prominently in his painting. He finds the material for his flowing and expressively dazzling paintings in the everyday bustle of events and objects, profane and sacred. With roots in a Swedish painterly tradition, he brings an immediate address and a style that is entirely his own. He creates his works directly, without sketches or preliminary studies. In several of his series, ordinary objects become almost monumental. In Snyggtennis (Susannes skridsko) (Fine Tennis (Susanne’s Skate)), for instance, a skate dances on ice with a tennis racquet and a couple of hockey sticks against an expressively-painted background.
Carl Hammoud’s works have formerly conveyed an underlying narrative but he recently started focusing more on depicting familiar objects out of context, thereby making them abstract and leaving the viewer to interpret their meaning. No details are left out in these realistic yet slightly magical motifs, where Hammoud’s personal style transforms the everyday into something enigmatic. The poetic title, Life is the Universe Developing a Memory, is a quote from the chemist Lee Cronin, a researcher in chemistry, from a talk about the origins of life on earth and in the universe. The perspective places the viewer to one side behind and below a basketball goal, looking up at the domed roof of the arena as an infinite space above the basket. Jenny Källman stages her images meticulously, to the degree that viewers might perceive them as documentary photos or even CCTV footage. The photographs show anonymous urban settings with young people in various social situations. Their faces are turned away from the camera lens, making it even harder for us to read and interpret the context. In Shoot Out, a solitary woman dribbles a football across a concrete square behind a barbed-wire fence, while On the Bench portrays five teenage girls from behind sitting on a bench before or after a game, with the ball on the ground behind them. In both pictures, the subjects are unaware of being observed, making us viewers peeping toms. Her later works also feature bodies, but movement, reflected light and mirroring are the central elements.
In Märta König’s Folk på Enskede IP (People at Enskede Sportsground), a big, red butterfly flutters above the green grass. Spotlights extend like spindly antennae over the horizon, and the people referred to in the title are like miniature painted portraits and silhouettes in the foreground. König paints in an intense, personal style, where earthy landscapes of fields, sea and mountains spread into the distance, along with interiors and commonplace details. Her fluid style of painting inspires us to continue filling in the picture beyond the canvas edges. Christian Simonson also portrays a sportsground, albeit in a low-key, near-abstract painting, where the brown grass field contrasts against a solid-grey sky. In Heden IP (Heden Sportsground), the cropped, bright goal draws our attention to its geometric shape to the right in the picture, and the net is almost like a veil obscuring the dark ground behind it. With subtle effects, he conveys a sense of late winter, and although the title refers to a specific place, the motif is familiar from countless places around Sweden. Lastly, the arena is the main protagonist in Jens Assur’s New Lusaka Stadium I, Lusaka, Zambia. This enormous photograph, taken with a large-format camera, belongs to an extensive series, Africa is a Great Country. After years of travel as a press photographer to war-torn countries, Assur wanted to challenge the prevailing image of Africa as a continent of war, hunger, disease on the one hand, and an exciting wildlife destination for tourists looking for adventure. Instead, he focuses on the developing African economies and the urban lifestyle of the growing middle class.
The Foundation has a work from Lars Blomqvist’s series of paintings, Utan titel (hjärtats övertygelse) (Untitled (The Heart’s Conviction)) in its collection: Untitled (Not Thinking Too Much or Too Little). The overarching theme of the series challenges the romantic notion of the artist, with painterly variations on circular and rectangular shapes. The consistent blue nuance in all the paintings relates to the blue flower that often features in Romantic art, symbolising a longing for the eternal. Blomqvist often finds inspiration in literature and poetry. The title of this work, and of other works in the series, comes from Ein Maler (The Artist) by the Swiss author Robert Walser (1876–1956), in which he philosophises about the artistic mind and the pleasurable yet ambivalent act of painting, where the feeling of having failed is reconsidered and gives way to the hope of succeeding.
In this fourth presentation of new acquisitions for the Tore A Jonasson collection, nine contemporary artists enter the arena with paintings and photographs that relate in some way to sports. In Tore’s memory, we invite you to an engaging and stimulating encounter with these new works.
Ulrika Levén, curator
Sidan publicerades: 27 januari 2023