17 December

From Freud’s couch to interstellar graffiti. Today, we gather around Tilpo’s favorite exhibitions of 2021.

Bruno Knutman, In the Basement Studio, 1983.

Bruno Knutman, In the Basement Studio, Galleri Magnus Karlsson, Stockholm

Bruno Knutman’s posthumous and very peculiar exhibition was actually a kind of double presentation with Jockum Nordström, where Knutman’s work was installed in the three larger galleries while Nordström’s was on view in the showroom. Knutman showed about forty smaller ink drawings of more or less vulnerable people made over a period of 26 years. It was a fantastic selection demonstrating the artist’s multifaceted and enigmatic image world comprising childhood memories, dreams, and theatrical subject matter with abstract and Surrealist elements. It was fascinating to see how Knutman, through his graphic-like lines, could keep everything in place, and wonderful that these two – with such strong artistic connections to each other – were shown together. Nordström has been influenced by Knutman as a painter, but both have singular psychic subject matters in addition to the eternal drawing of childhood. It gave me hope that humanism will become fashionable again. – Hanna Aihonen

Jim Thorell, Tropics of Beach Naps, installation view from Setareh Gallery, Düsseldorf.

Jim Thorell, Tropics of Beach Naps, Setareh Gallery, Düsseldorf 

From figurative, emblematic, and perspectively reduced narratives to ’interstellar graffiti’. This is how one might describe Jim Thorell’s artistic development in recent years. At Setareh Gallery, he showed huge paintings of some 2×3 metres, where graffiti-like shapes unfold like luminous fireworks over white or light blue expanses. At the same time, there is a strong fictional element with ’hypertags’ and a kind of persistent automatic writing. These expand linearly above and below layers of considered streaks of paint that are saturated on the surface and tend towards milder spectrally-toned hues underneath. In Thorell’s work, fabulous distinctions operate which palpably detach themselves from conventional graffiti. It gives a distinctive feeling of liberation that becomes undeniable and with a more personal and mythical address. – Hans Eriksson

Roland Persson, Random Dance, 164 x 60 x 100 cm, silicone and mixed media, 2021.

Roland Persson, In Both Directions at Once, Galleri Andersson/Sandström, Stockholm

Establishing contact with the emotional capital of Roland Persson’s work brings on an astronomic felling of guilt as well as a generous helping of splinted compassion. But how is the drawing, reminiscent of Freud’s famous couch, connected to Persson’s latex sculptures of animals and plants? The couch seems to be an ironic way out from the exhibition’s documentary character – a reflection on the status quo that lulls the viewer into a dead end, a “nimbus” interpreted literally that unites us in hymns of tears. Persson has easily and ingeniously succeeded with failure. He combines the magnificent with the abject using simple means, despite the work’s highly driven and extremely subtle sense of material. Is this a dystopia? No, not only. It is also a form of adaptation coupled with reflection – as in the exhibition title. I’m also reminded of Freud’s words to Jung: “We must build a bulwark against occultism!” It does not have to be more dramatic than that. – Hans Eriksson

– Tilpo is a pseudonym for the Stockholm-based artist duo Hans Eriksson and Hanna Aihonen, who work mainly with painting and drawing, but also in genres such as sculpture, stage installations, text, and video. Tilpo most recently exhibited at Galleri Kenetti Helsinki and at Passagen, Linköping Konsthall in 2021, and is currently working on an upcoming exhibition at Moderna Museet in Malmö, opening in the spring of 2022.

For this year’s contributions to the Advent Calendar, see here.