In this, our first exhibition in our new space at Västra Trädgårdsgatan we want to celebrate the unrivalled potential of art to produce acts of resistance against the ruling ideology of rationalism: The Beautiful Escape.
Five artists, who all employ different practices and hail from very different times and places, explore the potential disruptive force inherent to the act of withdrawing from the world. This choice is not necessarily a selfish act of escapism, pursued solely for personal pleasure and enjoyment. On the contrary, it can represent a courageous and vital struggle involving great risk.
One artist who possessed this kind of vision was Hilma af Klint (1862–1944). She was an astute and educated woman of her times, who had feelers extended well beyond the confines of conventional thinking. Her artistic explorations of the realms of the abstract and the transcendental are positively astonishing, and no less radical than those of Mondrian, Kandinsky, or Malevich. She just happened to be ever so slightly ahead of what we refer to as the avant-garde.
Christine Ödlund’s most recent paintings display a striking kinship with Hilma af Klint’s work. She too takes the transcendent as her core subject matter. Perceived affinities between life and music, or between plants and humans, are no mere fantasies. They are real. Science is ill-equipped to help us grasp the miracle of life. Carsten Höller, one of the most celebrated artists of our time, has also arrived at this conclusion. He abandoned a promising career as a biology researcher to explore the more distant outskirts of the mind. What actually happens within us when we are manipulated, whether by our reflexive reactions or by substances?
Ryan McGinley suggests an escape of another kind. His paradisal photographs of people in nature are strangely provocative. These are human beings behaving in opposition with any conventional notions of utility. They don’t conform to the stereotypes of beauty, and they are all preoccupied with doing nothing in particular. This is as rebellious as could be in an age so obsessively focused on the bottom line.
We are also thrilled to show three works by Paloma Varga Weisz, who has never been shown in Sweden before. This Düsseldorf-based artist has undergone extensive training in the age-old art of woodcarving, a skill rooted in the traditions of German medieval sculpture. The craftsmanship and frankness she displays in her remarkable, almost reverent, objects evoke wonder and fascination.
In closing, we would like to thank Martina Montelius, one of the leading authors and playwrights of our time. She has written a prose poem for this exhibition that is unlikely to leave any reader unmoved. Get ready! It’s time to make a Beautiful Escape!