5 December

Wham-Bam! Which exhibition gave art critic Jesper Strömbäck Eklund an intellectual orgasm?

Viktor Fordell, Sun #1–4, inkjet print, paper, acrylic, glue and varnish on canvas and aluminum frame, 180 x 577 cm, 2023. Installation view, Issues Gallery.

Viktor Fordell, More Diary, Issues Gallery, Stockholm

I often miss Berlin. The fantasy of what has not yet happened in the city keeps me going when Stockholm descends into the darkness of autumn. Fordell’s show at Issues Gallery was dominated by four inkjet prints taken from inside the Berlin Ostkreutz train station. The sunrise is filtered through the giant letters of the station logotype, and in the background, the cloudy horizon of Europe. Where are we going? It’s impossible to say exactly how, but Fordell gives shape to that depth –the abyss – of longing for places that are no longer what they once were. In all its uncomplicated beauty, the exhibition was the best of the year.

Sixten Sandra Österberg, Master of Disguise, 111 x 209 cm, oil on canvas, 2023. Photo: Johan Österholm. Courtesy of the artist and Andréhn-Schiptjenko. In the collection of Magasin III, Stockholm.

Sixten Sandra Österberg, Time of Nothingness: Everything Happens, Andréhn-Schiptjenko, Stockholm

Sixten Sandra Österberg’s marvellous debut at Andréhn-Schiptjenko last spring came back to me when I recently saw two paintings from her show in Moderna Museet’s long (difficult) corridor facing a barren gravel walkway. Again, I was floored by Österberg’s characteristic style that does what only painting can do: it just happens. We stand in front of a painting and everything we need to know about life and desire is laid out on that particular canvas. I think it’s called magic. I would think that most people who come across one of Österberg’s works simply have a tiny intellectual orgasm. Ooh!

Lisa Tan, Pa, 2023 (detail, to the left) & Promise or Threat, 2023 (detail, to the right). Installation view from Dodge and/or Burn at Accelerator, Stockholm. Photo: Jean-Baptiste Béranger.

Lisa Tan, Dodge and/or Burn, Accelerator, Stockholm. Curator: Therese Kellner 

Some exhibitions can trick us into thinking they are made just for us: I see you! Lisa Tan’s show at Accelerator was not only that. I also had a powerful experience of finding the mother I never had. If Tan’s art can feel a bit austere at first glance, it’s only because we haven’t scratched the surface hard enough. Behind the formalism and all the theories, there is a fragile core of ambivalence, humour, and nerviness. Tan succeeded in linking the human and the psyche in a fascinatingly precise way. 

Jesper Strömbäck Eklund is a critic and contributor to Kunstkritikk and Expressen.

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