Exhibitions 2007

Roger Metto - In the heart of the Mountain

November 10 - January 13 2008

Roger Metto, born in Kiruna in 1964, was trained at the Nordic Art School in Kokkola, Finland and the Royal University College of Fine Arts in Stockholm. He lives and works in Stockholm and Lidingö.

In the Heart of the Mountain displays a selection of works that Metto created in the last five years. The artist has previously displayed his paintings at, among other venues, Galleri Leger, Malmö, Galleri Thomassen, Göteborg, Gallerie Ahnlund, Umeå, and Gävleborgs länsmuseum, Gävle. He is also represented at the National Swedish Public Art Council, Göteborgs konstmuseum, Västerås konstmuseum, and the municipalities of Umeå, Vallentuna and Botkyrka.

Roger Metto´s principal motif by far is landscape. In paintings that reference film´s wide-screen format, panoramic scenes emerge from Lapland´s wilderness and the midnight sun, as well as from the Wild West of American settlers. Strong, vibrant colors and contrast-rich fields characterize these landscapes.

Just as one can trace the roots of Roger Metto´s art to romantic 19th century landscapes and a pastoral tradition, it is also possible to see his playful manipulation of popular cultural clichés, particularly American ones, such as brightly colored toys, comic strip figures, and the cowboys and Native Americans of the Rocky Mountains. Even the playfulness of his works titles French Connection, Linimentville, Stretching in British Columbia, and Kicking Horse incorporates an undertone of urban poetry. Metto fuses these restatements of well-known pictorial content and contemporary mythology with mental images of folkloric wall hangings in bold color combinations reminiscent of his childhood in Kiruna.

Mountainous landscapes appear as an underlying drone in most of the paintings, just as they do in John Ford´s legendary cinematic environments; however, the mountains grow in and out of the picture, disappear in the distance, hover in the foreground or are occasionally abstracted to the point of taking on a new form.

The depiction of time and memory constitutes another aspect of Roger Metto´s work. Picture fragments turn up and are placed in the painting´s sliding plane between the foreground and the background. Detailed, individually sketched houses, spruce trees, animals and figures drift in their own, fabricated space, as if in a flowing stream of memory.

The abstracted parts rub up against the elegantly formulated fields, creating resistance, complexity and even questions about our experiences, our history and our recollections.

Several paintings feature colorful vertical and transverse bands, which give the works direction and movement but also indicate a transformation of the pictorial content. They form frameworks, a palette of opportunity for the rest of the image; they shimmer their way into the composition, disrupting the order of things; they vibrate like a visualized audio tape; they are the annotations of a language that is not easily deciphered, if at all; they appear as the panels of a film strip where, like melting celluloid, they dissolve and wither. Visual pictures are transformed, changed; they become indecipherable or disappear. Different levels of reality are created. Childhood memories mix with dreams and desires. The smaller, known world provides formulations for the huge, boundless one. Expanses are measured against boundaries.

The cowboy, a central figure in several paintings, gives way to thoughts about movie idols, children´s games of make-believe and masculine prototypes a folk hero, a magical figure of the imagination, and a classic image of unfettered freedom.  The image of the man and the landscape, inscribed in art history by Caspar David Friedrich, draws on associations to both the Lone Ranger and neo-romanticism.

The work In the Heart of the Mountain permits the cowboy form to be inscribed in a multi-layered space with schematic drawings of houses, defined by a multi-colored decorative border. It is worth noting that the artist often draws with a brush, scattering bits of graphic art evocative of picture books or comic books in is paintings. The front part of the painting´ s edge shows a number of spruce trees drawn as silhouettes where, windswept and misshapen, they become a story book shadow play with crooked figures. The mountain chains, abstracted and partially dissolved, flank the cowboys enclosed area; they are transformed into two gigantic faces, a parental perspective dressed in mountain chains, like primeval stone statues carved out of the mountain.

The landscape is animated or personified. In nature, a human being is small. The massive mountain takes on the shape of a cloven heart, where the child and its imagination are given a sheltered place in which to grow.

Roger Metto has created his own world of images, a world that appears to undulate from a synthesis of visual impressions created around a theme, which touches on our being and our experiences, memories and attempts to express perceptions and context. We encounter a multi-faceted image system, an internal and external landscape in a continual exchange between form and content, color and blackness.

Isabella Nilsson
Museum Director 

Esko Männikkö - Cocktails 1990-2007

September 1 - November 4 2007

The Finnish artist Esko Männikkö likes to visit the periphery. Tensions between the margins and the centre of power are present in his pictures, which delicately balance between social sensitivity, the power of observation, distance and political sub-texts. Esko Männikkö has sought out the individual narratives. His pictures of decaying abandoned farms and mouldering rooms in countryside of Scania province depict isolation and loneliness, but also relaxed, worn life, combined with respect for the suggestions of relics of human life.  The welfare state of our time is reflected in another existence, another account. Finnish bachelors were depicted with great integrity, humour and warmth, but also moving universality in the works which represented his breakthrough. Through pictorial series such as Flora & Fauna and Harmony Sisters, where the animal kingdom returns as a sort of still life from a new perspective, the viewer is confronted with the melancholy of deterioration, but - as in many of the artist?s works - art history is present in the motif and theme, colour and form choices.

Millesgården's ambition is to now exhibit a large-scale presentation of his work, providing a broader introduction to his work for the art public in Sweden.

Esko Männikkö was born 1959 in Pudasjärvi, Finland, and lives and works in Oulu, Finland.

Auguste Rodin & Carl Milles - a meeting of masters

May 26 - August 26 2007

The works of Auguste Rodin have retained an enduring impact on today's sculptors. The renowned contemporary English sculptor Rachel Whiteread finds his work, "very expressive and internal: crouching figures, legs splayed, they are so erotic and sensual, incredibly emotional. They come from his stomach like regurgitated pieces of work." Her fellow countryman, sculptor Tony Cragg has expressed his wonder over Rodin's seemingly alchemistic power over matter," You do feel that life energy of an artist has rubbed up against material. I mean dumb innate material- plaster and clay, whatever it is. So that the energy invested and the thoughts, the movements and gestures get invested from this person Rodin into the material and then he leaves the room and even a hundred years later, people walk into the room and BANG!

During Rodin's lifetime (1840-1917) his work attracted such major French sculptors as Aristide Maillol, Antoine Bourdelle and Camille Claudel into collaborative employment as studio assistants. The experience also attracted the young Romanian-born sculptor Constantin Brancusi, who worked briefly under Rodin's direction. Years later Brancusi acknowledged that Rodin's innovative Balzac, remains the incontestable point of departure for modern sculpture?

In 1897 the young Swedish sculptor Carl Milles (1875-1955) moved to Paris seeking to broaden his horizons by exposure to the new tendencies in French art. At the autumn Salon that year he encountered Auguste Rodin's powerful sculpture of author Balzac later writing in a memoir,"I was completely overwhelmed by it and life began to have meaning for me".

The following year, 1898, Carl Milles began work on his three meter tall sculpture entitled Dante's Heaven and Hell, clearly under the influence of Rodin's ill-fated project The Gate of Hell. This intended monumental gateway of marble and bronze had been Rodin's first commission for a public institution: a museum for decorative arts. Auguste Rodin had begun work on this commission in 1880, but his Gate of Hell was never to be realized while he lived. Carl Milles' sculpture took instead the form of an upward striving tower of naked couples culminating in a fiery-coloured glass globe at its peak, illuminated within by electric light. When Milles "Heaven and Hell, also inspired by the medieval poet Dante's work Divina Commedia, was rejected by the Salon jury, the young sculptor felt such boundless disappointment that he destroyed the plaster maquette. Two preserved plaster fragments of the original are in the exhibition, together with a photographic restoration, illustrating the original composition and colouring of Heaven and Hell's bronze, glass and stone surfaces.

In 1899 Carl Milles made his debut at the Paris Salon, followed in 1900 by new sculptures being awarded the bronze medal at the Salon and a silver medal at the Paris World Exhibition in the same year. Milles continued to exhibit at the Salon de la Société des Artistes Francais and Salon de la Société des Beaux-Arts each succeeding year, until he returned to Sweden in 1906.

Ann Edholm & Håkan Rehnberg - painting & sculpture

March 24 - May 20 2007

Painting has always stood in focus for Ann Edholm, to be driven a certain direction, where symbolism and physical expression almost short-circuit. Håkan Rehnberg's works move between painting and special objects, where concepts susch as place and happening are central.

Understanding, conception, the experience itself occurs through the physical meeting with work. Ann Edholm and Håkan Rehnberg further a tradition in wich scale is extremely important. The art works are intellectual models, they are physical objects in space. All dimensions measure scale onte to one.

Edholm and Rehnberg share similar backgrounds, educated at the Royal Art Academy in Stockholm, where they have also taught. They are both represented in the same public and private art colletions. To step into Ann Edholm's studio with Håkan Rehnberg or vice versa is not self-evident, but at the same time there is a curiosity that ignores boundaries and liberates older suppositions.

Carl-Fredrik Hårleman

Modern Fables - contemporary artist draw

January 20 - March 18 2007

Participating artists: Kristina Abell Elander b 1952, Gertrud Alfredsson b 1965, Fredrik Andersson b 1971, Lotta Antonsson b 1963, Mats G Bengtson(1944-2005), Eva Björkstrand b 1975, Carl Hammoud b 1976, Lisa Jeannin b 1972, Maria Johansson b 1960, Ulf Kihlander b 1956, Bruno Knutman b 1930, Andreas Korsar b 1977, Patric Larsson b 1964, Maria Lindberg b 1958, Katerina Lönnby b 1967, Bo Melin b 1964, Ragnar Persson b 1980, Hampus Pettersson b 1973, Helena Roos b 1968, Andreas Roth b 1965, Linnea Sjöberg b 1983, Linda Spåman b 1976, Johan Zetterqvist b 1968, Emma Åkerman b 1976 and Ola Åstrand b 1959.

The exhibition was produced by Bohusläns Museum. Curator's Agneta von Zeipel, Ola Åstrand and Andreas Roth.

In connection with the exhibition This is Know, a special 220 page issue of the Malmö based magazine has been published, with 50 invited artists work, including most of those participating in Modern fables.

26 Swedish artists from various generations participate in the exhibition Modern fables, all having drawing as their starting point. Many of the artists are well established in the Swedish art scene, while others have newly graduated from art schools.

The selection, made by curators Agneta von Zeipel, gallery director of Bohusläns Museum, and artists Andreas Roth and Ola Åstrand, is intended to reflect many different perspectives as well as a wide span. The theme of the exhibition Modern fables may be interpreted broadly; encompassing shifting narratives and reflections about our times, true or constructed, in the form of installations, fanzines, comics and animations.

Throughout history drawing has always been considered an important component of an artist's education. It's status has however often been undervalued, because of prevailing views of drawing as a preparatory and somewhat incomplete work in relation to other artistic expressions such as painting and sculpture. However, for Leonardo da Vinci drawing was an expression of the divine. It has taken until now for artists to be able to devote their primary artistic expression to drawing and gain the same kind of appreciation, as drawing did during the Renaissance.

Today drawing has an increased importance, partially due to the artists' desire to use a direct technique when expressing themselves as opposed to using a medium depending upon a slower process and planning. This renewed interest may even be seen as a reaction to the advanced projects of the 1990s. The challenge of hierarchies following upon decades of avant-garde movement has made an artistic pathway for poor material like drawing possible. The dynamic development that comic books for adults have had in Sweden since the late 1970´s, has given the art of drawing an increased interest amongst a broadened public.

The relationship between drawing, time and room, being and becoming, figuration and ground has with time caused artists to see drawing as a process, that in itself encompasses the development of avant-garde art theories; first as abstract expressionism and later as minimalism and conceptual art.

Another aspect of drawing is that it is associated with freedom, underground, spontaneity, subjectivity and memory. Many associate drawing with anecdotes, since drawing always has been closely allied with narratives/fables, for example in children's books, comics and medieval pictures.

The drawn picture is everywhere, integrated into our daily life. We draw in the sand, on fogged glass panes, ponder upon the aeroplanes? trails in the sky and make play patterns in the snow. From the child's deformations and school-age practice, drawing is part of the daily communication in our urban society encompassing everything from telephone scribble and pictorial jokes to schematic sketches and graffiti.

Isabella Nilsson
Museum director