5 December Christine Antaya

Art critic Christine Antaya lists her three favorite exhibitions in 2021.

Sara Lindeborg, A Malmö Trilogy: Shepherdess and Other Exilic Vernaculars, installation view from Signal, Malmö. Photo: Lotten Pålsson.

Sara Lindeborg, A Malmö Trilogy: Shepherdess and Other Exilic Vernaculars, Signal, Malmö

Sara Lindeborg’s show was the last in a series in which three Malmö-based artists exhibited together – the other two being Selma Sjöstedt and Angelica Falkeling – but with one of them headlining each time. The dialogical format was never fully developed as the public programme had to be cancelled due to Covid, but I have thought of Lindeborg’s chapter every time I’ve encountered painting since then. Most of the canvases were hanging from a rack in the ceiling, and the subject matter ranged from antique patterns to babies in pools, to the high loft ceiling in the artist’s studio. The entire presentation felt like an interface, a connection to everything, really, including painting as a cultural-historical practice and its implicit relationship to people’s longing for beauty and meaning.

José Leonilson, Vogue Ideal (fanzine), ink, ballpoint pen and graphite on paper, 1976. Photo: Rubens Chiri.

José Leonilson, Leonilson – Drawn: 1975–1993, Malmö Konsthall, Malmö

The presentation of the Brazilian artist José Leonilson (1957–1993) contained over two hundred works displayed in a labyrinthine exhibition design. But it was intimate rather than overwhelming. I especially remember the more portable works: a tiny staircase protruding from the wall, a collage of a magazine image of a man in denim, the word “liar” embroidered on a tote bag. I daydreamed about ending up next to the artist at a dinner. Or at least receiving a letter from him. One of the postcards he wrote to a friend read: “Be calm, try to enjoy yourself, and notice everything. Or not.”

Susanna Jablonski, Long Time Listener, First Time Caller, installation view from Kalmar Konstmuseum.

Susanna Jablonski, Long Time Listener, First Time Caller, Kalmar Konstmuseum, Kalmar

Susanna Jablonski’s sculptures have a formal intelligence that requires no explanation. I could have spent hours with a deconstructed Chagall painting in the form of a beautiful glass mobile, or metal rods sticking out of clay moulds like two ossified candles and placed next to a black lump. The starting point for the exhibition when it was first conceived for the Luleå Biennale in 2020 were two burnt-down warehouse buildings outside the city, which were used by German forces during the Second World War. In Kalmar, charred remains from the buildings were placed on a low shelf along one wall. The historical narrative might be seen as a contrast to the more personal works, but the insistence on the significance of materiality, as monument, as memento, as vessel, was a strong, unifying undercurrent in the exhibition.

 – Christine Antaya is an art critic and regular contributor to Kunstkritikk and Sydsvenska Dagbladet. She holds an MA in art history from University College London and is currently studying creative writing at Lund University. 

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