23 December Frans Josef Petersson

Which were the most crackerjack exhibitions of 2020 according to Kunstkritikk’s Swedish editor?

Lina Bjerneld, Shape the Air, oil on canvas, 2019.

Lina Bjerneld, D-d-d-Ding, The Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Stockholm

Paradoxically, given this year of isolation, I can’t remember ever seeing as many memorable exhibitions as I have in 2020. Best of all was Lina Bjerneld at The Royal Academy of Fine Arts. Bjerneld’s paintings of mute church bells and solitary musicians felt both neurotic and autistic. More specifically, it seems to me that she depicted autism, not as a diagnosis, but rather as a neurosis – the neurosis of our time. Yet, she managed to turn the sense of solitude and despair into something to gather around. In the exhibition, there were benches where visitors could sit in front of the paintings and ponder how we all ended up here. How did quarantine become the next step in late capitalism’s social atomisation process?

Jarl Ingvarsson, Fabricae, mixed media, 2020. Installation view from Galerie Forsblom, Stockholm, 2020.

Jarl Ingvarsson, Fabricae, Galerie Forsblom, Stockholm

“He must be insane,” my friend exclaimed at Jarl Ingvarsson’s opening in January. Crazy or not, Ingvarsson has always struck me as a crackerjack painter who does whatever he wants. Instead of traditional pictures, the exhibition featured a spirited installation in which the artist had painted on bed sheets and suspended them from the ceiling. In my review, I hoped that he’d be able to wake us from “late capitalism’s pandemic fatigue.” He wasn’t. Two weeks later, Sweden’s first case of COVID-19 was confirmed, and Finnish Galerie Forsblom was forced to close its Stockholm branch.

Windy Fur Rundgren, The Ocean is Listening, 2020. Installation view from Stene Projects, Stockholm.

Windy Fur Rundgren, Havet lyssnar (The Ocean is Listening), Stene Projects, Stockholm

If the tendency to motivate artistic choices in political terms seems to have a depleting effect, then why not take a closer look at artist’s ideas instead? Like Windy Fur Rundgren, whose exhibition at Stene Projects had one eye on Malevich and the other on the Swedish artist and art historian Oscar Reutersvärd. Yet, Rundgren’s paintings were entirely distinctive, with their shimmering surfaces and ‘impossible figures’, which aren’t impossible at all, but rather prove how we can view something from different angles at the same time. It turns out that the black square still holds new possibilities beyond hopelessness and demagoguery.

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