Fredrik Söderberg & Carl Larsson
I’m not interested in function and logic. I want to achieve transcendence.
So it’s angels and halos, flowers and the Swedish flag. I don’t deny myself. It is simply delightful for a poor old sceptic like myself to revel in symbols, faith and beauty.
Magasin 3 Stockholm Konsthall presents an exhibition where the contemporary artist Fredrik Söderberg (f. 1972) meets the giant of the Swedish artistic canon, Carl Larsson (1853-1919). Fredrik Söderberg’s paintings encompassing the magical, fantastical and enchanting are a blend of historical references and contemporary cultural codes. Carl Larsson is one of these historical references. This exhibition includes a selection of illustrations and studies by Larsson that use the imagination as a point of departure. His whorl of ornamentation and the detailed drawings of knights and dark forests place him in a context of renewed interest for contemporary artists who, based in fairy tales and folklore, create their own idiosyncratic fantasy worlds.
Fredrik Söderberg describes his works as ‘collages’, referring not to the technique used to produce them but to how the content is collated from many different sources. In his watercolors, oil paintings and miniature models we find C.S. Lewis’ world of “Narnia”, fragments of Nordic mythology, photos of spiritual gatherings, and well-known festivals such as Midsummer. Söderberg creates dreamlike scenes that dwell on the mystical in the everyday and explore its history.
This exhibition includes a selection of illustrations and sketches by Carl Larsson. His whorl of ornamentation and the detailed drawings of knights and dark forests place him in a context of renewed interest for contemporary artists. Several of the works on exhibition are studies for his monumental paintings where figure drawings and nature studies form the basis of his fantastical compositions. Also included in the exhibition are Larsson’s illustrations of Swedish writer Viktor Rydberg’s romantic tale of “Singoalla”.
Elisabeth Millqvist, the curator of the exhibition, describes the process as follows:
“The exhibition started with an urge to investigate why, in the year 2008, art is crawling with witches, shamans and sacrificial rites. This led me to delve into Fredrik Söderberg’s oeuvre since he has worked with related themes in the last ten years. In his work there are several paraphrases of Carl Larsson’s motifs. I wanted to bring out these references and show a Carl Larsson that seems relevant today. This is how contemporary fantasy ended up next to the dark forests of National Romanticism’s mythical worlds.”
In descriptions of contemporary art, terms such as narrative and fictional worlds recur. But what kind of narratives do we see? Through the work of Fredrik Söderberg this exhibition explores the contemporary preoccupation with a search for something beyond a rational worldview. By bringing together the work of these two artists Söderberg’s referential working method is highlighted and Carl Larsson’s work serves as testimony to an historical interest in the same charged symbols and searching in a different age. In this exhibition including over 40 works the visitor is invited to take part in a world of mystical heroes and supernatural phenomena in art dated from the1890’s to the present.