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An Artist's Shine On Stage

Lisa Lundgren, Den röe, 2021

Painter Lisa Lundgren graduated from Mejan (The Royal Institute of Art) already a few years ago by now and I got to know her work better towards the end of her time there and although I’ve quietly (actually not so quietly) been an admirer of it at a distance, we only just met the other day in her studio at Galleri Nos. It’s a bit rare this tardy union; I usually run into artists already during their while at art school. Lisa I think for me is possibly not just a favourite, but the favourite, among a next generation of Swedish painters which is why I ultimately get to the pen about her work. Other painters among several to watch would include Edit Sihlberg, Elinor Silow and Fanny Hallgren.

Lisa Lundgren, Folk ändrar ansikten, 2021

Lisa Lundgren's characteristic paintings that at times have presented as windows into and on to and around theatrical stages allude to an allegory about life her father told her as kid: "You enter the stage, you take off your hat, take the bow and descend and exit”. The unabashed unfussiness and poetic ring to just that; about the unsingularity of a single life speaks greatly to me. There’s an oscilliation in mood between subtle melancholia in scenes that turn towards the exterior world and reek of an air of meteorological and seasonal shifts on the one hand, and the fanfaric majestic grandeur of “the grand stage” within the inside world on the other. When I was last in NYC in Januart, there was a moment leaving the Strand bookstore in particular where I thought of Lisa’s work (I thought of her numerous times during that trip) and felt frustrated not to find a way to tangibly connect her work to the city there. As though feeling her work has a possible momentum that she can’t even enjoy from afar in Stockholm. Her scope like with so many artists based around our shores should ideally be so much greater than just the local. And that; finding your space in the local can be a clusterfuck alone. The springboard platform for emerging painting is the commercial gallery circuit and that's an equation that does not quite add up given the amount of some twenty-galleires that make up this scene and where there might be a window for three-four emerging painters at most to take center stage in a substantial exhibition stint shortly following graduation at art school. Major art institutions in Stockholm have notably and surprisingly not been reflective of what has been called "the return of figurative painting" since about 2015 (and such headlines keep coming as per the end of 2022) which brings me back to NYC and painters like Salman Toor and Oscar yi Hou having made serious splashes at The Whitney and Brooklyn Museum. Also my recent gallery strolls along the bustling art district around Henry Street on the Lower East Side/Chinatown and Chelsea, needless to say, were very reflective of it. As has the writing work of prominent critics like Roberta Smith or Jerry Saltz, or a leading publication like Artforum whose tentacles touch an emerging generation of painters all the way to the obscure new transplant galleries in corners of the city.

Lisa Lundgren, Januari, 2022

Lisa Lundgren's moment took a few years until her first solo exhibition with Björkholmen Gallery (good call by the gallery adding younger fresh blood to the roster; it was overdue). Her next and second exhibition with the gallery which is due in May will be quite bold and show moves that emphasize only the essential parts of her painting to date, down to the bare minimum; much more naked compositions stripped away from the detail range and capacity that I've gotten used to. I’m excited to see what the reception of this shift might be and am intrigued so far as per a studio visit and on board for it. Or here for it, as the saying goes.

Ashik Zaman


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